The Jalpaiguri Shelter Home and Employment Center is progressing. March saw a change in location for current survivors as the lease on their temporary shelter expired. Another facility was rented and upgraded for health and safety reasons until the permanent shelter can be constructed. 30 survivors are currently residing in the rented space. In December the foundation for the permanent shelter is being poured.
In the meantime the employment program and jewelry training has begun. 15 girls are being trained as artisan goldsmiths. An expert designer from the United States, Nancy Edwards spent a month in April getting the girls trained in the basics of metal design. Soma S and Soma H, women who have been trained and excelled in the Calcutta Jewelry Program, regularly travel to the Jalpaiguri Jewelry Center to help the girls refine their methods and to teach new skills. A center supervisor was also hired.
Current shelter space being leased by Women’s Interlink Foundation expired
Lease on a temporary space found
$5,000 in renovations to space to make it livable
Kitchen and bathroom updated, running water added, locks and security installed
30 girls move into temporary shelter space
15 girls selected to begin training in jewelry program
Nancy Edwards, artisan jeweler and trainer, spends the month training the girls in metal skills and techniques.
Aparna Roy hired as supervisor for the jewelry center.
Soma Seal, a peer trainer from the Calcutta Jewelry Center, comes to check on the girls’ progress and skill levels. She is able to help them refine their techniques.
Peer Trainers Soma S and Soma H, revisit the Jalpaiguri Jewelry Center to teach new skills and help girls in the program improve their techniques.
Soma H. travels to Jalpaiguri for additional peer to peer training modules. Soma spent her teen years in a shelter home, and was one of the first members of our first jewelry center in Calcutta. This was Soma H’s first trip traveling alone by train. Below Soma talks about the experience.
"In my first class, the girls were very excited to see me. They had forgotten some of the lessons that had been taught by Nancy so I thought of brushing them up with previous lessons. It was good to see that they were showing interest and concentrated during class hours. There were two new girls in the team so I had to teach them everything from the very beginning. I realised that while teaching them I was actually taking my test as to how much I have retained the theory of Jewelry Making. I used to write notes every day after the class and plan for the next class. The girls and I developed a good rapport. I kept on telling them the story of my life, how I grew up at the shelter home, got married, had a baby and then I joined the program which changed my life completely. I think my story might have helped them to believe that life can surprise you anytime, you shouldn't give up, and you must stay hopeful.
AT the end of my training period, I took an assessment of the girls and sat with each one of them to correct their mistakes. They kept on asking me when would I visit them next and I guess that answers whether my trip was successful or not. This experience will always be very special in my life not only because I traveled all by myself, but because I was given the responsibility of training new girls. I am thankful to MBS to have the confidence in me to send me as a trainer. I hope that I have been able to live up to everyone's expectations".
Foundation will be poured for permanent shelter and jewelry center.