Beacons of light...
ENCOURAGING Khvaab Project's mentorship programme underway
Independent & confident
Satya Lakshmi K V and Aarushi Singhania, fellows based in Bengaluru, started Pehchan for young girls and women who have the will to do something in life, but don’t have enough resources and opportunities to pursue their dreams. “We focus on building financial independence by equipping women with skills such as jewellery making,” says Aarushi. By doing so, they hope that the women are able to become confident and self-sufficient. For now, they work with women and girls from the Belathur colony in Bengaluru and have impacted 21 women and their families.
Everyday, girls who have dropped out of school and women, between the ages of 13 to 40, are trained for two hours. While there are several organisations out there that are doing the same, what sets this initiative apart is its interactiveness and the interest the facilitators take in their students’ well-being. This ensures that they come back every week. “I enjoy coming here as I am exposed to different things and learn something new every day,” says 15-year-old Akshatha.
While the time spent with them seems short, a lot has been achieved. The session starts with a ‘circle time’, where they spend around 30 minutes discussing problems that they may have at home and how they can overcome it. The next 90 minutes are spent building their digital literacy, spoken English and entrepreneurial skills. “We believe that these skills are necessary for them to independently run the show,” elaborates Aarushi.
Since starting the project in January 2016, Aarushi and Satya have seen immense changes in the women they work with. While their main challenge has been convincing parents to send their daughters to their centre, many have come around after seeing the positive impact it has made on their lives. “Initially, a mother of two daughters, who were school drop-outs, did not see any point in coming here. However, after repeatedly requesting her, she and her daughters came to see. After a few sessions, the mother saw the purpose,” recalls Aarushi. Many have also been able to sell their wares at local malls and colleges.
Another similar project that builds the confidence of young school-going children is Khvaab Project, an initiative that was started by Richaa Hoysala, Sunadini Nathan, Aishwarya Santosh, Rohit Balakrishnan and Faheem Ahmed, Teach For India fellows based in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Started in April 2016, the project aims to empower the children from underserved socio-economic background through one-on-one mentoring. “We noticed that the students in our classes rarely opened up to us,” says Rohit. “This is when we realised that much can be done and the project took shape.”
As many children are often hesitant to share details about themselves, pairing them with a mentor who shares similar interests is vital. Hence, mentors are paired with mentees who share similar interests. Therefore, the recruitment of mentors becomes stringent and prospective mentors are asked about their background, their interests and why they want to mentor. They are then paired with mentees who share similar interests. “This can help mentors break the ice, and bond better,” avers Rohit. Through the mentoring programme (which lasts for 12 months), the children also get to know more about the opportunities available and learn something new about the world. As a result, the children have become more confident and developed a positive mindset. This is something that they share in common with Pehchan. Despite working with different low-income communities, they seek to instill confidence and uplift the children and women they work with.
One of the main challenges that the Khvaab project has faced is making the parents allow a stranger guide their children. “While this is an understandable concern, we ensure that the mentors meet the parents regularly and inform them of the progress being made,” adds Rohit. Doing so ensured that there is better involvement of all those involved. So far, 47 children have been mentored by 47 volunteer mentors. Currently, the project works in Gangodanhalli in Bengaluru and Begumpet, NTR Nagar, Shaikpet and Musheerabad in Hyderabad. While recruiting volunteers to work with them is difficult, they have been able to overcome this by using the extensive volunteer database that Teach For India has, social media and through word of mouth.
To know more about Khvaab Project, visit www.bit.ly/2nmkCa0 and for Pehchan, visit www.bit.ly/2n8U5fH.