Updates of all activities of Saheli Trust, Dehra Dun, India
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Dear everyone,

July has been an interesting month for most of us, we have sown new "seeds" and hopefully these two new Saheli projects will soon see the light of the day. Read below to know more about the Saheli SAPNA and LTW projects.

Also, if you'd like any changes in the format or content of the newsletter, please don't hesitate to send us your suggestions by replying to this email.
If you've been following out activities recently, you would know that last month 4 orphan siblings came to us, through the government Child Welfare Center. These siblings, 2 sisters and 2 brothers, named from the eldest downwards: Ganga, Jamuna, Bhagirath & Shivam, had lost everything in the floods last year in Uttarakhand and were living in a small plastic shack. They were rescued by the Child Helpline and though the courts, sent to us.

Ganga (14 years) & Jaumuna (13 years) got admission in Dayanand Girl's College, Clement Town in Classes 11th & 9th respectively. The two younger brothers, Bhagirath & Shivam are 11 & 7 years resp and while Bhagirath got admission in Class 2 in Saraswati Vidya Vihar, Shivam was admitted in KG in Himalayan Academy. Except for Ganga, all the other siblings are quite weak in studies, which is understandable given the sad lives they have lived. All of them go for an hour of coaching after school hours and our Shelter warden too ensures they study at home.

We got three cycles for them and in the above pic, they can be seen going for their evening tuition.
Radha, the  36 year old lady who came to us last month in a really bad state (she was going to jump in front of a running train to commit suicide), fed up of 16 years of domestic violence, went back home as a happy woman. After our intervention and the filing of a report of Domestic Violence, the husband was arrested for domestic violence. The arrest proved a boon in disguise as he apparently realized that the law does catch up with you if you break it, he accepted his mistake of beating his wife and promised never to do so again. After spending a few hours in the lock up, he was released on his wife's plea and both went back home after that. 

Let's keep our fingers crossed for a violence free live for Radha in future.
Stand up against violence at home
"Never take violence against you lying down" was what we told women in Sapera Basti, a small shanty town on the outskirts of Dehradun. People here are mostly beggars and cobblers and wife beating is very common, as can be seen by the women with pink dress in one of the pictures above. The need to help each other in distress, the need to speak out against violence and the need to have confidence in oneself were stressed. After the meeting a number of women came and shared their personal problems on the roadside. We also met Mrs Basanti, the social worker in the area, in the blue dress in the pictures above, who participated in our meeting with a great deal of enthusiasm and has agreed to mobilize more women from the area in the next meet.  The lady in the pink dress is 26 year old Anjali, the scars on whose face tell the story of unending violence against her. Mercifully all has been quite at her home after she complained to the police a few days ago.

We plan to visit the area quite frequently and also talk to the husbands one day soon.
The story of Sushma

We donated a cycle to Sushma, a very brave 28 year old lady who is fighting for her rights, after her husband deserted her 4 years ago. Sushma walks 5 kms ( one way) daily from her home to her place of work, come rain, thunderstorm or intense heat. It took her almost forty minutes reach way, but with this cycle, she can do it in less than 10 minutes.

The cycle was handed over to her by our President, Manju Kaushik and the thrill on Sushma's face is all too obvious. A big thanks to our member Swati Negi who gave us the cycle, we got the cycle repaired, put in new tyres and gave it to Sushma.

Sadly, as you can see in the picture below, her inlaws objected to the cycle and literally assaulted her claiming the cycle was stolen. We rushed to Sushma's home and had to even call the police before the inlaws retreated. Sushma lives with her  7 year old daughter in one room, in her inlaws home. She even cooks there, even though the house itself is palatial. Her inlaws want her to leave the house so that their son, who has remarried illegally, can come back.
Stiching Classes
Stiching classes for the women of our Self Help Group were conducted by our President, Mrs Manju Kaushik. The ladies were taught how to make ladies suits (Kurtis) and we all were surprised at the amazing speed they picked up the skill needed to make perfect clothes.

Hopefully, starting 1st August, we should start making beautiful Indian ladies clothes.
Radhika & Aryan
30 year Radhika walked out of her husbands home after 9 years of physical abuse. Unfortunately for her, she could not find shelter in her parents house also and so she along with her 7 year old Aryan came to us looking for help in mid July.

Aryan has now joined a nearby school in Class 2 and Radhika is now recovered enough to start hunting for a job for herself.
Message from the Secretary
Greetings from Saheli,

July was a hectic month, school and job hunting for the residents of our Saheli Women's Shelter being a tough job, which, I'm pleased to report to you, was successfully done. All the children in the Shelter are now going to school plus extra personal coaching and the women jobs, except for one.

This month we worked really hard in planning for the future. Two new projects were finalized this month, a few details of which i would like to share with you. . Our SAPNA (Sports, Aspirations, Protection, New, Autarky) is a project designed to groom adolescent girls into bright, empowered and positive adults. Lack of education, lack of facilities to play outdoor games, absence of peer groups and early marriages are some of the problems facing adolescent girls in urban slums. The project involves setting up of SAPNA (which means dream in Hindi) Centers where girls will come for 3 hours daily, 6 days a week.These girls will be taught spoken English, handicrafts, livelihood training, computers, theatre and taken to play outdoor sports twice a week in the field of a nearby school. One open session to discuss common problems will be held weekly. Instructors in the center will be allotted families of girls with whom they will interact and try and sensitize them on gender issues.

The second project which we finalized this month is LTW. This “Lightening the Way” is a unique, 3 year project designed to empower women and at the same time break gender stereotypes. In India work of an electrician is considered a male only domain and by training girls and women in this field will not only empower them by giving them vocational training, but also by giving them the courage of venturing in a males only field. The project involves setting up of a LTW center where girls are given 3 hours a day, 6 hours a week training in the electrical field for a year and then helped in setting up their own business.
The very fact of having female electricians in a village will give a big enough jolt to those with "conservative" mindsets.

After finalizing the projects, now begins the hardest part of looking for organizations / people to help fund them. Hopefully, this obstacle we shall overcome soon, with your blessings and support.

And finally, a big request to everyone is to please help us grow by giving us advice on the way forwards, by pointing out our mistakes and by suggesting new ideas to us. Please do not hesitate in criticizing anything you don't like. And if you live in Dehradun, or if you ever visit our city, my earnest appeal to you is to visit us. Do call me and I shall be honored to arrange a visit for you. My number is +91-9760371958.

With regards,

Shruti Kaushik,
Secretary, Saheli

...and in the end...
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June 2014
April & May 2014
March 2014
February 2014
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