Vacha receives Dasra Award, pic. courtesy Dasra
You will be happy to learn that Vacha has won the Dasra Girl Power Award in the life skills category for 2014 and a prize of Rs. 10 lakh (INR 1 million, USD a bit over 16,000.00). There was an all India competition for the award. Vacha was first short listed and then selected as the finalist for it. The award is for the same work that you are supporting through Global Giving so each one of you, our esteemed donors, have contributed towards our refining and expanding the programme and finally winning an important award for it in India. Out team sincerely thanks you or it.
Republic Day 2014:
As you know Vacha youth bring out their own newsletters twice a year. They collect information, take pictures, conduct interviews and form committees to type and edit the newsletters. In some areas this year they brought out 11th edition of their own newsletter that they themselves produce and sell. The newsletter was released on January 26, the Republic Day. Different communities had different versions and these were released along with public performances by girls such as street play performances, power point presentations, speeches and rallies with messages about girls’ rights. Local elected representatives, teachers, social workers, and their parents and peers attended these public events.
The Women’s Day
A major event that was helped organise by girls at all centres was a Women’s Day event on March 8th. Women across 15 bastis in Mumbai, Thane and Valsad (South Gujarat) were invited to spend a few hours away from their house work, and celebrate themselves through games, songs, and other fun activities. Girls had planned competitions and other activities for their mothers to enjoy on Women’s Day, and had a blast seeing their usually reticent mothers fight with each other to win the prize! Women shared with each other about their hobbies and dreams, and found the space to express themselves.
Exams and Vacation
Every year we used to note a declining number of participants in Vacha classes for 2 months from mid February. They said they had to study for the final exams in early April. This year, wherever possible, we turned Vacha centres in to study spaces. Girls like this as they get some quiet and comfortable space in which to study. Their homes are small and crowded. They also have to perform many domestic chores if they are around. In Vacha centres they have books, dictionaries and a facilitator who can help them with their studies.
The final exams will be followed by a long summer vacation. A number of workshops and other activities are planned for all those who will not be going off to their native villages.
‘How does one say on seeing one’s own tongue after a long long time?’ exclaimed Rehana when asked how did she feel after her major dental surgery? We had mentioned her problem last time. Rehana’s cheek had puffed up and she could not open her mouth fully. She meshed food in to small balls and pushed it in through a gap between her teeth in one place. As a child she had tried to run and hide from a strict family elder and fallen down. She had hurt her mouth and the dentures did not align. The treatment was very painful so she gave up after a while. Her cheek kept puffing up. She could not speak clearly but she was fascinated by Vacha class and kept coming. The Vacha ‘teacher’, the social worker Deepa Pawar, herself from a deprived community, pursued the matter with her and her family and arranged for an important surgery at low rate. She stood by Rehana every moment. The family raised some finance and Vacha contributed too. Your contributions helped. Today Rehana can open her mouth and look at her tongue for the first time in many years. She can take proper nutrition too. She has more confidence now and better self esteem. ‘I am going to be a professional photographer’, she says. And she will certainly emerge as one. Why not?
As we near the end of this phase of our project we sincerely hope you will remain with us always and support us in helping girls acquire skills that will make them active and visible in community leadership and help them emerge as strong productive women citizens.
Rehana - before surgery
Rehana - after surgery
Deepa Pawar, who helped Rehana
Girls shouting slogans at rally organised by them
Performing street theatre on rights of girls