Vacha Team sends Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for 2015.
We take this opportunity to thank you once again for your generosity and for your active concern for empowerment of deprived girls who, for most of you, live in a far away country. All of us truly appreciate this.
Our girls live in families that have migrated from very poor regions where conservative traditions prevail. Communication across generations as well as gender is not very direct. Girls are discouraged from talking to father and male relatives. A girl may talk to her mother and sisters freely but not necessarily be able to share her thoughts and feelings fully. With brothers also there is limited communication. Her friends, all female, are different but then her mobility is largely restricted. A communication workshop was held in one large and conservative community focusing on conversation within family. It was the first time ever that such a topic was raised with girls in this community which is relatively new to Vacha programme. First day there was a discussion in which girls shared where they feel stifled, angry or upset but cannot express themselves in words without fear of repercussions. It was suggested by trainers that communication can be non verbal too and that people do express that way but we had to learn the right way to do it. A whole lot of non verbal communication ways and their pros and cons and possible impact were discussed. The powerless have to learn to maneuver the situation so that their point of view, dissent or demand can be communicated without negative consequences for them. The response was tremendous. Girls were creative in talking about various situations and solutions were sought collectively. Next day they practiced what they had learnt and saw the importance of using silence as a method of communication.
This kind of activity is something of tight rope walking. Strife within family has to be discouraged. Family is the only support system for girls as the State does not have a good and comprehensive welfare policy. Yet girls must also become active and self confident individuals. We are happy to report that local Vacha staff has been able to build trust and good will in the community. We look forward to sharing girls’ experiences of using the newly acquired communication skills and their impact.
Safety issues of girls are becoming a major concern. With the ratio for women in Mumbai being 832 per 1000 men, sexual harassment and assaults can only increase. Besides discussions on safety, groups of girls visited police stations to learn about processes involved in assuring safety for women and girls in public spaces. They created leaflets based on what they had learnt and shared the information with others in the community. One group also joined a rally organized by a youth group for spreading awareness and demanding action against the culprits.
We have written about Rehana in earlier reports. She is the girl who could not open her mouth because of an accident when she fell face down and her dentures closed tight. Vacha’s social worker Deepa organized a subsidized surgery. Vacha supplemented what her family could collect. This was possible because of contributions you make. Well, the good news is that she has just won second prize in a photography competition in her college that has over a thousand students. Rehana is naturally on Cloud Nine! It is the first success in her life and she hopes to become a professional photographer some day. She had learnt photography in a Vacha workshop but does not own a camera. Though new technology has made it a less expensive hobby but it is still out of bounds for poor girls. So let us celebrate Rehana’s victory in this festive season.
We request you to consider in future our long term programme for girls' training in life skills. Its objectives are to help them become productive members in the economy and active participants in civic life. While this project funding is nearly coming to an end, the long term project is at :http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/life-skills-training-annually-for-poor-girls-in-mumai/ Please do visit it and also our website for more information.
Once again we wish you the best and hope to have your continued support and good will through GlobalGiving in the coming year.
Girls' Visit to the Police Station
March Against Sexual Harassment
Rehana, Prize Winner in Photogrpahy