Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Girls Education Camp

In Barmer, many girls do not attend school after their eighth, or sometimes fifth, year.  In some villages, there are not even schools for girls beyond the eighth grade.  In the 2010-2011 year, Vikalp organized a residential girls education camp to last six months.  12 girls from various villages in Barmer participated in the education camp.  Ten of the girls were in the 10th class while the other two came from supplementary.  The families of these girls supported them in attending the Vikalp camp and desiring to continue their education.  However, the remainder of the village was not so open, often saying bad things about the girls.  Many villagers believed that there is no value in educating girls because they will marry, move to the husband’s family, and no longer be needed in their original family.  However, as one participant’s parent stated, the girls “will have confidence and will make good decisions for [their] futures” because of the camp.  
The girls all graduated from their 10th year class.  Not only did they continue their normal studies, but the camp gave the girls confidence, the ability to say ‘no,’ the importance of girls education, lessons on sanitation and hygiene, communication skills, and self-respect.  After they passed their exams, the girls applied for higher education and are now studying in schools of higher education.  After this accomplishment, not only are they and their families very proud, but some villagers have changed their opinion and are now sending their daughters to continue their schooling.  

After finishing their exams, the girls took a trip to Barmer city together, sponsored by Vikalp.  Over the course of two days, the girls met with a district collector, the Barmer police superintendent, the Gila Parmuk and other officers.  They also visited a park in Barmer, and enjoyed their time together.

Once month after the culmination of the education camp, Vikalp organized a girls adolescent training.  The twelve girls attended this training and shared with the others their positive experiences with Vikalp’s education camp.  They motivated the girls to continue their schooling, attend this camp if possible, and secure higher education!  The girls all took the responsibility of returning to their villages to try to convince all girls to enroll in school.

The girls in the camp had an extremely positive experience.  They showed courage as they broke away from the norm in their Barmer villages, as they followed their dreams toward a higher education and a better future.



Vikalp’ s Roshani Resource Centers

Many girls in Jodhpur stop going to school when they reach 9th or 10th standard, and sometimes earlier than this. With the help of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Vikalp Sansthan created Roshani Resource Centers (RRC) in 10 slum areas of Jodhpur city. These RRC serve the purpose of an academic and nurturing environment outside of school. The RRCs provide a safe haven for young girls as well as boys to play, read, and learn from the RRC librarians who are chosen by Vikalp and the community. 

Part of the mission of the RRC is to discuss the importance of education, promote healthy gender roles, and mitigate violence against girls and women.  When one walks into any RRC center, they will see the walls covered in posters such as the Hindi and English alphabet, healthy hygiene practices, and Vikalp gender violence and girl’s education posters. Shelves in these centers hold a small collection of books and art materials for the children’s enjoyment. 

However, these rooms are often cramped, lack electricity, and have no fans—making the facilities almost unbearable in Jodhpur’s heat. Due to these issues, Vikalp is now looking to rent slightly larger rooms for these resource centers. Furthermore, interns Shamyra and Tess have decided to use their grant to purchase and have installed ceiling fans for the 10 RRC centers.  This grant is allotted to them through the Foundation for Sustainable Development with whom they are also working. 

Since the founding of the RRCs many girls are now in school, child marriages have been prevented, and Vikalp staff have observed many case studies in which children have made great gains in their personal development and interaction with others.

Young boy reading in Sargara Basti RRC

Meeting at a RRC

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Women's Health Training

On Thursday and Friday July 14th and 15th, Vikalp led a two day health training in Jodhpur for community women. The women selected for the training were the Roshani Resource Center (located in ten bastis) facilitators. Facilitators each brought along a volunteer from their community so there were a total of 15-20 women at the training. The program covered the subjects of nutrition, sanitation/hygiene, skincare, and female sexual health.

Vikalp interns Shamyra Henderson and Tess Shiras, who are working with the organization for two months this summer, organized the training. Staff members Yaseen and Madhu helped facilitate the training, and two doctors attended the training from Vasundhara Hospital and Women’s Fertility Research Center. On day one, Doctor Priscilla, a dietician at Vasundhara hospital, spoke

on nutrition. The women were very engaged during the discussion, and asked many questions following Dr. Priscilla’s discussion. Dr. Priscilla spoke about the importance of maintaining a balanced diet and exercising, among other topics. On day two, Dr. Renu, a gynecologist at Vasundhara, spoke about proper hygiene and sexual health for women. During her discussion, Dr. Renu not only discussed the topics of female health with the women, but she also reminded the women about the importance of educating young girls and other women in their communities.

During the training, the women also participated in several

activities concerning proper sanitation and hygiene. These activities and games were designed to help them better understand the concepts and ideas that they had learned from the discussions on sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition. At the conclusion of the training, all of the participants received certificates congratulating them on the completion of the two-day training. All of the participants expressed that the training would not only be useful for them, but also to the members of their communities.