Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas

by Kranti
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Kranti and the Ladakhi Women
Kranti and the Ladakhi Women's Travel Company

We took advantage of the Diwali Holiday by taking a 3 week trip to Kashmir and Ladakh. For a month prior to the trip, we focused on lessons of the Kashmir conflict, including film discussions, the history of pre and post-Partitioned India, and Kashmiri culture. During the trip, the girls wrote journals and we had frequent discussions about what they learned along the way. After a few days in Srinagar, we traversed the mountains in a van for 20 hours in order to reach Leh, Ladakh. From there, we took a four day trek through the mountains with the female run and led Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company (http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2011/nov/04/trek-himalayas-ladakh-india-female ).  We then spent 4 days at SECMOL (Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh), a self-sustainable campus, where the Revolutionaries participated in daily chores, English classes, and also presented some gender & sexuality and sex ed workshops to the SECMOL students. The Revolutionaries are preparing a multi-media project that will include pictures and narrations of their experiences from the trip and the lessons learned in Kashmir. The theme for our project was ‘Journeys’, and the girls’ individual journeys were transformative, as was the overall Kranti journey!

During the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, four of our girls went on a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat for teens. They practiced meditation, mindfulness, and staying silent (well, almost silent) for 10 days! Most of the girls are continuing what they learned during the retreat and making time for daily meditation, which has really helped with mental and emotional health. Additionally, Kranti has started doing ten minutes of group meditation every night before bed.

This past month, Kranti’s Revolutionaries have had an opportunity to speak at a few conferences. Shweta represented Kranti at the Urban Poverty Workshop in Mumbai and again at the ACM DEV 2013 conference in Bangalore.  This month, the girls will be presenting at another conference in Mumbai as well as a class an alternative education course at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).  We are fortunate to have so many speaking opportunities for the Revolutionaries and continue to seek ways to make them visible as leaders.

Lunch on a mountain top
Lunch on a mountain top
Breakfast on a House Boat (Srinagar)
Breakfast on a House Boat (Srinagar)
Gliding across Dal Lake (Srinagar)
Gliding across Dal Lake (Srinagar)
Gender and Sexuality Workshop with SECMOL students
Gender and Sexuality Workshop with SECMOL students

Links:

Aparna Teaching Sex Ed
Aparna Teaching Sex Ed

June 2012: Kranti’s SJE Goes Global

In June, our local social justice education went global!  One of the Revolutionaries, Aparna, taught a series of sex education workshops for teenage girls at Project Crayons (http://www.projectcrayonsindia.org/).

And we are happy to announce that her sex education class was not only shared with the youth of Project Crayons but also made international news! Via the NY Times and NDTV, Aparna was able to educate and inform the world about her ideas of safe sex, clear up misconceptions about pregnancy and menstruation, and discuss the hardships sex workers face when getting medical treatment. Please follow the link to read the article and watch Aparna's honest and candid lesson about sex education. http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/meet-aparna-mumbais-teenage-sex-educator/

Summer vacation wrapped up as the Revolutionaries spent a week at a Rural Excursion Camp in Maharashtra. The girls spent time trekking, enjoying the forest, climbing trees, making new friends, and learning different skills, including rifle shooting!

Most of the Revolutionaries began a new school year in mid-June. We now have girls in 5th, 7th, 8th, and 12th English standards as well as 9th and 10th Hindi standards. The first few weeks of school were a dizzying exercise in organizing schedules for school, classes, tuition, and extra-curricular activities as each girl has a different daily schedule. Now, however, we have settled into a busy—yet consistent—routine, which includes the help of many volunteer tutors and at least one guest speaker per weekend.

 

July and August 2012: Revolutionaries Travel and Volunteer

Two of our Revolutionaries have a break from the demands of school and decided to spend some time volunteering and traveling. In her two months break between 10th and 11th standards, Laxmi chose to travel to Nepal to volunteer at a rural school, Maya Universe Academy, teaching Art and English to children. Here is the school’s website: http://www.mayauniverseacademy.org/.

Shweta, who passed her 12th board exams last spring and is currently taking a gap year, also traveled to Nepal, where she taught English to monks in a Buddhist monastery and sex ed to Nepali girls. Both Laxmi and Shweta returned return home in early August,; Laxmi started 11th standard in arts, and Shweta took a few days to study for the TOEFL exam before departing for Jharkhand, where she volunteering with the Gender Resource Center in the city of Ranchi for the remainder of the month.

For the rest of the Revolutionaries, the month of July was one of school, homework, and continued learning. Four of the Revolutionaries still make weekly trips to Project Crayons in order to teach on Sundays—in addition to Aparna’s sex ed classes, they have also been presenting classes on leadership and self-esteem.  We had a volunteer named Surhabi from Stanford University in California who worked  with the girls and helped them plan their weekly lessons for the girls at Project Crayons.

Morning Exercise at Rural Camp in Maharashtra
Morning Exercise at Rural Camp in Maharashtra
Shweta Teaching Classes to Nepali Girls
Shweta Teaching Classes to Nepali Girls
Laxmi Teaching Art to Children in Rural Nepal
Laxmi Teaching Art to Children in Rural Nepal
First Days of School
First Days of School

Links:

Jet skiing during one of Kranti
Jet skiing during one of Kranti's field trips

Early April was all about exams and then on the final day of completion the Revolutionaries cheered with joy and welcomed their awaited summer break!

Summer break in the Kranti house boiled down to three words: Educational Boot Camp!

April was the start of Kranti Summer Boot Camp, where every day included an educational workshop, guest speaker/teacher and a field trip. The Revolutionaries’ kicked off the month by attending an exhibit by Dharavi kids. The Kranti girls stayed within the realm of self-expression and created artwork of their own. Our walls were decked out with Revolutionary art, stories and poems!

The boot camp has been jammed packed with one exhilarating event after another, from puppet making to film debating. The Revolutionaries used their mental and physical strength while rock climbing and strategizing their way up a 43ft. wall! The girls have attended over 15 plays, films and workshops within the last month. On top of all the educational and fun- filled workshops they also attended various summer camps; ranging from survival skills in the Maharashtra forest to film making in the jungle of Chennai. One of the most exciting events of all was a trip to one of Mumbai’s islands where the Revolutionaries got to cool off and participate in water sports. They each got to ride a jet ski, learn how to kayak, and survive the twists and turns of a giant banana boat!

On the home-front, Kranti welcomed a new Revolutionary to our home and family! Sheetal is 17 years old and she has come at the most exciting time. With boot camp on the agenda and her firecracker personality she has settled right in with our other Revolutionaries!

Self defense training at home
Self defense training at home
Kranti @Pride, Mumbai 2012
Kranti @Pride, Mumbai 2012

The year kicked off by attending Mumbai's Pride Parade in regal Revolutionary garb! We made our presence felt as a group to reckon with as over 25 Kranti volunteers, staff and of course Revolutionaries danced along to Pride 2012 wearing t-shirts emblazoned with Kranti's logo. To own your very own Kranti t-shirt, just email us with your size and postal address.


We said in our last newsletter that as a continuation of 'Ability' month the Revolutionaries will be visiting and volunteering at a special school. The entire Kranti family spent a day in Sadhana School for special children, conducting art, sports and dance workshops for the children there. Not only was finger painting, basketball and Bollywood dancing super-fun for the Revolutionaries and the children, the Revolutionaries got hands-on experience of working with specially abled children.
Last month marked the 10th year anniversary of the communal genocide in Gujrat. The Revolutionaries attended a day long remembrance, with documentary screenings, photography exhibitions and panel discussions about the riots and learnt about the causes and nature of communalism. They were also part of activist rallies demanding justice for the families of the victims of the communal genocide.

And most exciting of all, we are now reaching out to 50 more marginalised girls with our leadership training and Social Justice Education Curriculum. We have been discussing Women's Rights all of February with the girls from Project Crayons, holding workshops on the current status of Women's Rights and what changes they want to make in them, and screening the Pakistani movie, Bol, around the issue of patriarchy. A group of students being educated byAkanksha visited Kranti, and not only learnt about our work, but learnt about food justice through the workshops we conducted with them.

Let the Revolution grow!
Kranti @Sadhana Special School
Kranti @Sadhana Special School
Revolutionaries speak about Sadhana Special School
Revolutionaries speak about Sadhana Special School

Kranti made its first ever public performance on 17th December in front of a crowd of 250! The Revolutionaries participated, in an inter-NGO event, "Our Life. Our Choice.", advocating accepting, respecting and supporting women who defy the norms of society, like single mothers, queer women and sex workers. The Revolutionaries, completely independently, scripted and performed a series of monologues about the lives of sex workers, demanding dignity of labour, access to health and education, and protection from abuse by the law, for sex workers. Their performance was met by huge applause! Kranti has truly appeared on the non-profit sector in Mumbai!


The Revolutionaries turned activists this month, participating in protest rallies, candle light vigils and signing campaigns to support Irom Sharmila's 11 year long hunger strike to protest against the attrocities of the military against civilans in North-East India.

December was "Special Abilities" month at Kranti. The month started with workshops, teaching the Revolutionaries about the different kinds of disabilities, both physical and mental. They were also inspired by the success stories of people with Special Abilities, like Helen Keller and Stephen Hawking. We will continue with this theme in the new year too, where the Revolutionaries will visit and volunteeer in a school for special children.
 
But the most exciting event of all was the Revolutionaries trekking up to the Pindari Glacier in the Himalayas at 12000 feet! Last month, we told you about some of the Revolutionaries being inspired to climb Mt. Everest. Well, I guess that dream is well on it's way. 

2012, here come the Revolutionaries!!!

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Kranti

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra - India
Website: http:/​/​www.kranti-india.org
Project Leader:
Robin Chaurasiya
Mumbai, Maharashtra India

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