Lata, popularly known as ‘Lata akka’ to the community women is one of the teachers at this unique programme in Mumbai.
Supported by Concern India Foundation, the programme focusses on employment generation for women living in the slums through vocational training. Apart from training them in courses like mehendi, tailoring and beautician skills, they also educate these women about savings, bank accounts and reproductive and child health.
On an average day, Lata is bustling with energy and zeal, scolding, correcting and laughing with her students who think her tailoring sessions are very interesting. Over the years, through her efforts she has gained a standing in her community in this area.
But this was not the case a few years ago. Back then, she was one of the students at this same programme. She was young, shy and lacked confidence. Originally from Tamil Nadu she moved to Mumbai after her marriage. In the initial years, she was not allowed to move out of the house. With patience and persuasion, she convinced her husband to allow her to pursue her dreams and from there began her journey.
She has turned out to be an enterprising woman, who was keen not only to make a living but take her initiative to a higher level, something that none of her contemporaries ever thought of. She now plans to start her own textile unit. With her hard work and perseverance she has become a teacher and participates in all the other activities conducted here.
Lata is an ideal example of a woman with substance. She has achieved great lengths and wants other women to benefit as well and has dedicated her time and energy towards this end.
– Soumya R Ullal, Programmes Team, Concern India Foundation (Mumbai)
It was during our field trips to one of the most underprivileged areas of Kolkata that we met Sahil and Sammim, brothers who are 10 and 8-year-olds respectively. We were visiting one of the education programmes supported by Concern India Foundation when we happened to meet them.
Sahil and Sammim Seikh are brothers who come from a very poor familiy. Their father is the sole earning member of a family of six that includes their mother, a younger sister and grandfather. Their father works in a tailoring shop and earns about Rs. 2,000 a month.
We found that they had no support at home with their lessons and their attendance in the government school was very irregular. The teachers were concerned and took special interest in their case. We motivated the teachers to attend our education centre that focused on how to stop students from dropping out.
This has worked wonders especially for Sahil and Sammim. Their attendance is now 85 per cent. Their academic performances have shown marked improvement and they are regular with their assigned home work also.
By providing an opportunity at the right time, we have been able to help Sahil and Sammim to value time and education. Their parents acknowledge this timely intervention has saved the duo from straying and choosing a path that may have affected their life negatively. We hope that through this education programme, they will become better students and emerge as successful human beings.
Sudakshina Aich, Programmes Co-ordinator, Concern India Foundation, Kolkata
Has anyone ever felt that our society and its problems sometime feel so big and complex that real change only seems possible if we stand together? I admit that this thought strikes me often and I guess I’m not alone. This prompted me to explore possibilities of working with an NGO. I participated in handing out food in some of the worst slum areas in Kolkata and for the first time I felt exposed to endless human sufferings.
I started looking for an NGO that offers hope and development to people around. For me, the greatest hope is education which I believe is the right of every child and the only path towards making a better life. That’s when I found Concern India Foundation that was working not just with children but other issues like health and community development.
So, here I am! It is inspiring to see people coming forward and supporting the causes which we am working towards. My work has also given me a chance to interact with rural people and talk to them about their local problems.
I specifically remember this visit to a small village in rural Karnataka, where we met rural women and celebrated ‘Hakkina Habba’ – the festival of rights with them. We arranged activities through dance and drama so that the women could easily talk about their rights. The whole session was aimed at making them understand that in today’s contemporary world women have all the rights just like men. We found that even today, these women were still facing gender discrimination. But after our session most of them made a determination to aspire for a life where they would get equal rights and opportunities.
I feel blessed to see the imapct and count the success stories of our various programmes. I truly believe Concern India Foundation is one of the platforms that is making a real change in human lives and is positively impacting our society.
Riti Saha, Resource Mobiliser, Concern India Foundation (Bengaluru)
A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform. – Diane Mariechild
This is a story of Sadhana in her mid-50s from Hyderabad who was married early in her life. Having realised that her dream to have an education, become economically independent were overpowered by her household responsibilities, she started looking out for opportunities to work and support her family.
But around the same time two years ago, her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Taken aback by the turn of events and knowing that he would be in no position to work again, she gave him timely medical assistance along with her sons. A reliable source informed her about the vocational training in tailoring offered at our Hyderabad supported programme for young girls and women.
This programme helps women who have been working in beedi rolling, cotton plucking and cotton bathi rolling in Hyderabad and Karimnagar. To give them an alternate livelihood the tailoring centres were started to empower young school dropouts and women.
She immediately enrolled into the course with her basic knowledge of stitching clothes, salwar kameez and upgraded her skills. Since the last year she is one of the tailoring instructors in the Hyderabad centre specialising in teaching salwar kameez to the trainees. She supports her husband’s ongoing medical treatment as well as runs the family.
Today she is self motivated, economically independent and tends to the needs of her ailing husband. Juggling between work, family and her husband is what completes her circle. Sadhana is indebted to the vocational centre’s contribution to her life.
– Archana Nune, Programmes Coordinator, Concern India Foundation (Hyderabad)