Saturday, January 21, 2017

Sambhali Trust Statement to be Read at the UN!

Congratulations to us! Since Sambhali Trust was granted special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council in 2015 (which is a fancy way of saying that we can provide statements to the UN on our speciality: gender inequality) we will have our statement read at the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2017 regarding women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.
Written by a former Sambhali Trust volunteer and PhD candidate Alexandra Ridgway, our statement focuses specifically on Rajasthani women and how various factors including limited educational opportunities and ingrained forms of discrimination prevent them from reaching complete economic empowerment.

Sambhali Trust is fighting the norm! Students learning English

For example, despite the growth of female literacy throughout India (the country average is currently 65%), Rajasthani women still have the lowest literacy rate at only 53%! Rajasthan also has the highest rate of child marriages, meaning girls are forced to leave school to fulfil household duties, and are consequently unable to gain economic independence due to a lack of education. However, even when women are educated they are still marginalised – a 2011 census found that 1.1 million Rajasthani women are searching for work and that 73% are unemployed.

The economic future doesn’t look good for Rajasthani women either. As India increases its reliance on technology and begins to reduce its traditional manual labour industry (where females have previously managed to find legal work), women are once more exempt from this growing industry due to a lack of education and resources dedicated to learning these technological advances.
We hope Sambhali Trust’s statement will launch a global conversation and incite more opportunities for development and change. Our statement will lead to more support for our grassroots nonprofit organisation and for Rajasthani women!

To read the full statement, click here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Help Raise €6,075 for 105 of Our Women

“A girl has always been perceived as a burden to the family, and her fate has always just been about doing the household chores and getting married and leaving the family home to live with her in-laws, so it is generally not thought worth spending money on her education.” So said Govind Rathore, founder of Sambhali Trust, to The Indian Express in June 2015. With Rajasthan having the highest rate of female illiteracy (53%) and child marriages (a 2012-13 survey showed that 51.2% of women aged 20-25 were married before the age of 18) in India, chances to gain economic independence are slim. In a state so entrenched in patriarchy, where girls are taken out of school once they have their first menstruation to instead attend to household duties, meaning they lack the necessary education to find a successful career, they are generally completely reliant on their husbands and in-laws for money and support. For the past 10 years Sambhali Trust has aimed to prevent this, and now we need your help in fundraising €6,075 for sewing machines for 105 of our women graduating from the sewing training programme.

With the ultimate aim of aiding these women towards financial independence, 7 of our 17 empowerment projects are dedicated to providing Rajasthani females with skills that include sewing, clothing manufacturing, tailoring, block-printing and embroidery. After an intensive vocational course which includes creating a salwar kameez, a traditional Indian outfit, students are each presented with a sewing machine at their graduation ceremony. This allows them to continue to design and create items at home to launch their own small businesses or to work in our graduate sewing centre where the ethical items are sold in the Sambhali Trust’s boutique.

Part of our graduate sewing centre
Mamta, who completed the training, has already had her life transformed by this newfound financial stability. Married with three daughters and one son, she has now become the sole economic provider for her immediate family as her husband is unable to work due to illness. Before she joined the sewing programme, Mamta was a part of the Sambhali Trust Jodhpur Empowerment Centre, where she spent one year learning core skills in sewing as well as improving her mathematics, English and Hindi language. Mamta now has the means to provide food, shelter and medication for her family. Additionally, one of Mamta’s daughters is now attending school due to the increase in finances!

This is just one person whose life has changed in ways previously unthinkable. There are 300 other women that have had their lives change due to something as simple as a sewing machine in the last 10 years. This year we want to help our largest graduating class of 105 women achieve the same.

In a ceremony on February 22nd, Her Highness Maharani Hemlata Raje of Jodhpur will present these women with their sewing machines and certificates. We need to reach our target of €6,075 to be able to purchase these machines. At just €62 each, these machines can have a large impact on a woman’s life and those dependent on her. Will you join us to change their lives by spreading the word and donating what you can?

To donate, click here. All photos credited "Anne Gattilia for Photographers Without Borders.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Three days three centers with Eleonore

After four months of amazing work in Sambhali Trust, my last three days were really intense as I wanted to make a small round of several centres before leaving Jodhpur. 

Through this short article, I will take you inside three centres representative of Sambhali’s activities: Eklavya Children Education Centre, Sisters for Sisters Empowerment Centre and Jodhpur Empowerment Centre

Tuesday 6th December - Eklavya Children Education Centre

Teaching kids is something almost all the volunteers wish to do. Pia, a german volunteer, has the opportunity to work there every day from 3pm to 5pm in the advanced class. Through her daily feedback, I realised that teaching children and women require a complete different approach. Thus we have decided that for my visit in the centre we would do an activity where they could express their creativity. 

Using cleaning pipes and toilet paper rolls, we firstly did a bunny pen holders. Far away from our initial example, they succeeded to surprise us with really personal and funny realization. The kids were so excited to exchange exercise’s sheet for craft materials. They were really reactive, happy and proud about their own creation which they brought home afterwards.
Eklavya's children will for sure have more creative workshop in the future.

Wednesday 7th December Sisters for Sisters Empowerment Centre

"I was and I still am very positively surprised of their eargerness to learn English and math"

Recently reopened in a new area in town, sisters for sisters is gathering new participants. On the 16th of August I was their first and only teacher. Even though they were new and not used to Sambhali's foreign volunteers, I was and still am really positively surprise of their eagerness to learn English and math.

I will always remember Pushpa reading out loud with a lot of assurance and determination Malala's life story for the united nation international day of girls. Every single girls and women in the centre that day was completely silent while listening attentively to their friend.

Thursday 8th DecemberJodhpur Empowerment Centre

The participants of JEC had welcomed me with cute and elaborated farewell postcards along with their sheer joie de vivre. They installed the speakers, played their favourite Hindi and Punjabi songs and we were ready to dance during one hour straight. 


We danced altogether the choreography they showed during the past dance competition and Muskan surprised all of us by performing on Justin Bieber song’s “Baby”. 
I was so happy to see girls usually more reserved during classes, lighting up and dancing incredibly well. Priyanka, a 19-girl embarrassed by her small height, showed her huge strength while dancing on “Nagada Sang Dhol” Ram-Leela’s powerful song.

Those three last days and all the moments I had in those centres will be printed in my heart. I’m really happy to have had the opportunity to spend 4 months with those wonderful women, to have participated to their empowerment and have enhanced their self-esteem as sharing with them my experience in return. 

Sambhali Trust is a non-profit organization based in Jodhpur, whose focus is the development and empowerment of women and girls in Rajasthan.

Since 2007, Sambhali Trust is working to improve the lives of women in Jodhpur through education. English, Hindi, Mathematics and vocational training such as embroidery and sewing classes are given daily in eight different empowerment centres throughout Jodhpur.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Orange Day for the Pink Ladies

Friday, 25th November was the UN International Day to end Violence Against Women
Here, Julie our volunteer from France tells us about her experience.

I think the International Day to End Violence against Women was a great opportunity to remind our women and girls about the importance of being well treated, and that any kind of violence against them is unacceptable.

"Some girls thought that in some situations, violence can be legitimate"

In the morning, I was at Jodhpur Empowerment Centre, one of the main centres of the Trust. We discussed the different ways to use violence (physical and mental) and how we can fight against those behaviours. However, some girls thought that in some situations, violence can be legitimate, so we had to explain that violence should almost never be the answer to any situation, but only in cases of emergencies such as self-defence. 

After those first impressions about violence, we asked each woman/girl to draw something about ending violence in orange, as it is the symbolic colour of this day. When everyone finished their drawing, we joined them together to create a big poster, as a message “We are united to end violence against women”. Most of the drawings were hands, as a symbol to say “stop” to violence.
In the afternoon, I went to Sisters for Sisters, an other centre with mostly married women. After a big discussion about what is violence, what types of violence they can face in their daily lives and how to fight against it, we asked each women to write on an orange balloon what specific kind of violence they wanted to end. They had different ideas such as end dowry for girls, end mental pressure from in-laws, end child marriage, end harassment …

We went on the roof and everybody launched their balloons at the same time, as a symbol to get rid of all those forms of violence in their lives. Afterwards, we took some orange powder and asked some men in the street to take pictures with them, so that men and women together said NO to violence, with the orange powder on the face of the woman as a symbol of a slap in her face to point at domestic violence. At the end, we all threw the orange powder in the air.

There were great moments in both centres, where I could feel the commitment of those women to fight to make their lives better and not just suffer from what others impose on them. I was really proud that they were able to express what they really feel, because during my time here I have learnt that expressing feelings is not easy for women here in India.
Yet again the women showed me how wonderful and full of energy they are, and I am convinced and hope that they will see soon how powerful they are.

To learn more about Sambhali's action during the #16daysofactivism to End Violence Against Women, follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

Sambhali Trust is a non-profit organization based in Jodhpur, whose focus is the development and empowerment of women and girls in Rajasthan.
Since 2007, Sambhali Trust is working to improve the lives of women in Jodhpur through education. English, Hindi, Mathematics and vocational training such as embroidery and sewing classes are given daily in eight different empowerment centres throughout Jodhpur.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Help Pooja avoiding child marriage and prostitution

Here at Sambhali Trust, we fight everyday for women rights, women empowerment and against child marriage.

The state of Rajasthan is known to be conservative andpatriarchal. In this society, women’s conditions are more difficult. As education is still considered a privilege, illiteracy among women is unfortunately common. Low educational rate is related to child marriage, a custom banned by the Indian government but still a large part of the Indian society.
Socially, economically and educationally deprived, these women are also more vulnerable to violence among their family and the community in general. 

Pooja is an 11-year-old girl living on the streets of Jodhpur, India. As many other girls in Rajasthan, she is deprived of a decent education and a safe living environment where she is prone to becoming a victim of child marriage by the age of 12 and increases her vulnerability to harmful professions such as child prostitution.
We want to influence Pooja’s future by offering her a spot at Sambhali Trust’s Boarding Home.
It is a place where girls are provided a nurturing home and education, where they are able to develop, learn and unleash their ambition.

It only takes 2000€ to change Pooja’s life. By making a contribution, large or small, together we can give Pooja a promising future!

Name: Pooja Jogi
Age: 11 years
One brother
Favorite color: blue
Favorite food: banana, papaya, roti (chapati)

For her young age, Pooja already has an incredible life story. She has been living in a small hut on the street of Jodhpur with her younger brother, mother and father for as long as she can remember.

Since August 2016, Pooja has been coming to the Empowerment Centre to learn to write and read Hindi as well as sewing. At the centre she meets many other young women who have become her friends. However, this might be her only opportunity to connect with other girls during the day. 

Laura, a volunteer from Germany asked her to describe her daily life:

I wake up in the morning. Then I wash my face and brush my teeth. Then I come to the Centre by van. For lunch I eat roti and vegetables.
Then I collect garbage on the streets. I help my brother, I teach him.
We live in a hut and we sleep in a cart. I dream of having a house because I currently live on the street.” 
(Translated from Hindi)

Sambhali Trust is a non-profit organization based in Jodhpur, whose focus is the development and empowerment of women and girls in Rajasthan.
Since 2007, Sambhali Trust is working to improve the lives of women in Jodhpur through education. English, Hindi, Mathematics and vocational training such as embroidery and sewing classes are given daily in eight different empowerment centres throughout Jodhpur.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The International Day of the Girl Child

It never becomes boring at Sambhali Trust. There are always new projects coming up and so was it on the International Day of the Girl Child, which was declared by the UN. Since this was a great occasion to become active, the Trust spontaneously took the opportunity to plan a demonstration. So, on Monday, one day before the rally should start, the volunteers introduced the topic in every center. Why should we celebrate the Day of the Girl Child? Which issues could this day be about and why is the irl child so important that even the UN decided to create a special day for it? Well, there are many answers to these questions, which are not possible to list up in this blog entry. Mostly, we talked about child marriages, violence against girls and the lack of education for girls in the society of India. In the end, every center drew some pictures or banners about the topic, writing or painting what ever fits to it. One banner was used for the demonstration in the end.

The women in the JEC creating the poster

Even the youngest girl participated

The next day, we fortunately got the permission of the Jodhpur police department to start the rally. Many women from the centers, the staff, the boardinghome girls and the volunteers met in front of the guest house. Some pictures were taken and even the TV-news were there to interview us. We had the honor to be visited by Mr. Poonam Ram ji Choudhary, Head of the District Council, Jodhpur and Mrs. Tracy Thomson of Trading Boundaries, UK.
Finally the demonstration started at about 8:30 am. Many posters were held up by the participants and during the whole way the crowd sang and shouted slogans, spreading the message about Girls Empowerment. It was kind of an exciting experience. The rally stopped near the clocktower where coloured powder was handed to everyone together with rose petals. Hundreds of people threw the colours up to the sky at the same time and almost everyone turned pink and red with a smile on their face. All in all it was a wonderful morning with a hopefully good impact on the passengers who saw us walking on the street.

The volunteers were walking in the front holding the banner
One of the several posters
"Who run the world - Girls!"
Noshin and Alfisha from the Boardinghome
Waiting in front of the guest house

Even the ground was pink afterwards

Saturday, October 08, 2016

What has happened in the past weeks at Sambhali...

Peace in every center

This month on 21st of September, we had a special workshop program in every center from the Sambhali Trust. This day was the International Peace Day, declared by the United Nations. Therefore, the volunteers talked about the meanings of piece with the women. Beginning with the common symbol of a white dove or a globe, which is held by human hands, the ideas became very creative. So, the single word piece doesn´t seem to only implement freedom, no war or harmony, in fact peace also meant to the women to lead a free and independent life, to have a chance of education and equality among every human being. On the other hand, some students found their peace in their daily life, for example by learning how to make the perfect chapati or to spend time with their friends and families.
Every center drew some posters for this event, which turned out very bright and various.

Some Boardinghome girls during their artwork...
...And then proudly presenting the wonderful picture
The JEC-Women presenting their work

A patchwork of the posters from every center

Special performance by the Sambhali Trust

The third prize went to the Jodhpur EC
According to Women's Welfare Day the Sambhali Trust collaborated with the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE) in Jodhpur to celebrate on 5th of October. Chief Guest of the program was Dr. Vishnu Charan Malik (H'ble District Collector, Jodhpur).

The show was opened by some girls from the Boarding home, singing two songs for the audience. Despite the nervousness of the students, the show was very impressive, since every center had prepared an own performance.
Several women of each center took part in a dancing competition with amazing traditional dances. Moreover, the students had the possibility to participate in a drawing or henna competition. In the end, those who had succeeded in having the best performance or the best drawing, got an award. Sambhali´s supporters were felicitated and some of them had prepared speeches for the audience.

The second prize went to the Brothers for Sisters EC
But the funniest part of the show must have been the European volunteers singing "We shall overcome" in Hindi. empowerment and afterwards everybody was offered some refreshments outside of the auditorium. All in all, the program was a great success and the audience enjoyed it.

And the Abhivyakti-EC received the first prize

The volunteers singing Honge kamyaab