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Providing Life Skills to 300 Girls living in Slums

by Vacha Charitable Trust Vetted since 2011 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Site Visit Verified
Providing Life Skills to 300 Girls living in Slums
At a community resource centre
At a community resource centre

Dear friends, Hello, As you know your donations to Vacha has helped us reach tens thousands of poor adolescent girls living in slums of Mumbai and its outskirts. The girls suffer only due to poverty but also because of the huge son preference and orthodox traditions controlling girls’ mobility, education, early marriage and lack of choice in decision making. All girls in Vacha programme complete 12 years of schooling and many go for post 12th courses including college programmes. We have filed some of the success stories of girls becoming pharmacist, lawyer, and doctor and succeeding in field like stock exchange fellowship, National Day parade, fashion design and of air craft hospitality. We will be sending more stories. These girls would not have been successfully without our programme of training in soft and hard skills and leading community action. They have worked on preventing child marriage, demanding adequate number of clean public toilets (their homes do not have attached bathroom/toilet) and creating safe spaces for women and girls. Your donations have hugely contributed to our programmes. Vacha team, therefore, appeals to you to donate generously on GivingTuesday for continuing and expanding our work. Sincerely, Sonal Shukla

A daily chore
A daily chore
Girls make their points for presentation
Girls make their points for presentation

Dear friends,

As you know Vacha encourages participants in our programme of girls empowerment to own the project. That is why presentation by girls themselves at local and national seminars and local meetings are important to us. It adds to their self confidence and is part of their leadership program. A seminar on Marginalised Adolescent Girls’ Agency in Empowerment Strategies and Models was held last month in Mumbai in which social workers and girls from different parts of India participated. Girls had their own space separate as well as within the main presentations.

The girls were asked to think of the topic in context of their family, their community/ neighbourhood and the NGO working with them. Girls talked of restrictions to mobility, lack of understanding of and receptivity to girls’ perceptions by elders. They shared their experience of having to always compromise, being subjected to abusive language and lack of appreciation from family and imposition of orthodox and outdated customs and traditions. They felt they should work on themselves for being more communicative and courageous and to use tactics and also strategise to be able to negotiate with elders and others in power. They expected NGOs to deal with families and communities to get a better deal for girls.

Sabah Again:

Among the stories we have shared is one about Sabah, a past graduate of Vacha’s programme who is from a conservative family. The Hindus of various castes who have also moved to Mumbai in search of livelihood from Hindi belt in North also tend to be very conservative and women maintain purdah/veil in its sari version. Sabah gets along with her peers in both communities. Recently a major foundation chose her story and created an oversized poster to emphasise need for girls’ empowerment. That poster is part of the report.

Giving Tuesday:

It was towards the end of 2011 that the GlobalGiving began to help us collect donations from individuals to assure our work of imparting hard and soft skills to girls from poor families continues.  Your contributions go a long way in supporting our work. We appeal to your generosity to donate to us on Giving Tuesday so that today’s girls emerge as strong women who will not be subjected to violence and discrimination.  Our sincere thanks for the support.

Experienced panelists discuss about Girls
Experienced panelists discuss about Girls' Rights
Sabah in a Poster
Sabah in a Poster
Women's Toilet Block

You will be happy to learn that 41 girls in a very poor slum in a semi rural area adjoining the city have encouraged their mothers and brothers and their friends to campaign for clean and adequate number of public toilets for women and girls. There are 4 toilets for 5000 women. The unofficial number is higher. Some of the toilets are worse than the others due to broken doors, window or commodes. Often girls would be late for their school due to long queues to answer nature’s call. The queues are long and it is highly problematic if one has a stomach upset. In slums families hardly ever have indoor toilets. The girls in Vacha’s empowerment programme met their community’s representative in the local self govt. body. Actually the position is held notionally by her but her father has been a leader for a long time and his writ still runs. Girls and their mothers collected signatures in the area and made a presentation asking to repair toilets and build more. The leader was livid. He had never seen anything like this. He could not imagine teens would question his authority. The first thing he did was to cancel his permission for us to use a public space for learning sessions that was under his management and control. By that time the community had become supportive to us and another man with access to another useful space allowed us to run our centre from there. Girls also feel encouraged by our govt.’s strong support for toilets for all and argue from this position.

Girls, mothers and supportive boys and young men had made a survey and taken out a rally in their area. Then they approached Municipality and found out substantial amount of money had been sanctioned and provided of the elected leader to meet urgent needs of the community. After girls’ presentation one single toilet has been repaired, one that is nearest to her/his office in the area. Girls have now presented the case as a health issue in the relevant public department. They are not going to give up the issue. Your good wishes are requested. You have been giving us support through your donations. That is an ongoing process and we are grateful to you for it. This time our need is for your wishes for these girls to succeed in their mission. After all, they have come up to this level of leadership due to support from people like you.

One of the Toilets
One of the Toilets
Collecting Signatures
Collecting Signatures
Brothers support the Rally
Brothers support the Rally
Savita with her Collection & Trophies
Savita with her Collection & Trophies


Some good news! We have been supporting empowerment programme for girls from deprived families who live in bastis (slums) of Mumbai. Later some other foundations also contributed to the programme, some in a major way. One of them started a scholarship programme for girls who showed promise academically together with their commitment to bring positive changes in their communities. This has inspired us to take initiative for providing scholarships where possible. The ‘scholarship girls’ are doing well. Among them two have achieved distinction. One of them is Savita.

Savita has been with our programme for several years. We had written about her in context of her community work. After completing a 3 year curriculum at Vacha, she continued through a youth group. She is cheerful and lively but had made it clear from the beginning that she was not going to work for top grades scholastically, that she would rather do street theatre and craft activities. On bagging a scholarship, she joined a 3 year course at the SNDT Women’s University in design. She continued working on design with other kids in her neighbourhood. This time, in her second year in the course, her designs were highly appreciated. She secured 69% in her course and won trophies in the categories of ‘Collection with the Best Melange of Fabrics’ and ‘The Outfit with Best Innovation in Style and Silhouette’ at the fashion exhibition cum sale held at Priya Chhabria Design Studio, Juhu, Mumbai. Savita has been offered an internship with the examining designer, Priyashri Patodia, which she may not take up if it conflicts with her class schedule during the academic term.

You have heard of Sabah from us before. Both these 19 year olds have shown a quiet leadership from the start. Sabah stood first in the college in her second year B.Com. exams this year. She had studied through Urdu at school level and had to switch over to English medium in college. She is the one who had persistently followed an international seminar in her college and was chosen to make a presentation in it. One of the Vacha teachers has been working on English with her. Her brilliance and hard work are innate and the outcome is rewarding for all of us now including all of the kind friends and supporters who contribute to the programme through GlobalGiving. There are many activities we could report but we thought first of the happy news.


With best wishes and regards,

Sonal Shukla.


Chanda is the leader of a youth group called Star Kids. This is an off shoot of Vacha’s educational programme for girls from deprived families living in slums. “We hold meetings, have discussions on community issues and plan action. We run a youth library and conduct games.”, she says.
Chanda’s father died when she was one year old. She is 16 now and has two older brothers. The father had migrated from a village in Uttar Pradesh and made a home in one of the more poor areas at the back of a slum in Santacruz in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is a small room of barely 120 square feet where she lives with her mother and two brothers. They use a public toilet. The mother has raised the children by selling bananas on the roadside. She has also turned part of the home front in to a small shop space and rented it out. Currently no rent is coming in because they had borrowed money from the tenant that needs to be paid off. The oldest brother had a job in a garment making unit but that has closed down. So he is now jobless. The other brother is doing first year in an undergraduate college.
Despite all these impediments, Chanda is generally quite forward looking in life. She enjoys the workshops on photography, street theatre etc. conducted by Vacha Trust. She went through an emotional crisis recently. She had passed her class 10 examination after which students have to apply for admission in junior colleges for classes 11 and 12. Education for girls at this level continues to remain free. Chanda did not get admission anywhere in the initial rounds but then she got into one of the best colleges for class 11. Her mother refused to let her take admission in this college because it was at a distance and she did not want her daughter to have this long commute on a daily basis. Chanda was very keen and insisted on accepting the seat. She was beaten up but held on to her demand. Finally, with intervention from Vacha’s community organiser, the mother agreed.  A compromise was reached. Chanda is now able to attend a fairly good and upcoming college not too far from where she lives. It is her ambition to acquire good qualifications and extricate her family from the circle of poverty.
Your support will help Chanda fulfil her aspirations. On the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March), we appeal to you to donate generously to champion girls like Chanda acquire a good education as well as the soft and hard skills necessary for a productive life in the 21st century.
As part of the International Women’s Day campaign, we request you to kindly DONATE on

8 March   from   12:00 AM   to   11:59 PM   EST
8 March   from   10:30 AM   to   9 March   10:29 AM   IST
8 March   from   05:00 AM   to   9 March   04:59 AM   GMT.



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Organization Information

Vacha Charitable Trust

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra - India
Project Leader:
Sonal Shukla
Mumbai, Maharashtra India
$37,678 raised of $50,000 goal
544 donations
$12,322 to go
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