Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sambhali Trust Boutique

Come Shop With Us!

Did you know...
 That at all of our centres our students learn many different sewing and embroidery techniques.

Did you know...
That each one of our students receives a sewing machine once they graduate.

This means...
That not only do our students have the opportunity to practice and improve their sewing skills while attending Sambhali Trust, but it also gives them the chance to make their own income afterwards.

At two of our empowerment centres - Brothers for Sisters & The Graduate Sewing Centre -our students work hard to produce beautiful and trendy Indian and Western style pieces.

Each item is ethically handmade by our students with love!

 Not to mention, the color, fabric and style options can be customized exactly to your liking!

All profits go directly back into the organization and help to purchase teaching supplies for the centres, sewing machines for graduate students or into the student scholarship fund - to name a few!

These profits allow Sambhali Trust to continue being self-sustainable.

All of our products are available for purchase locally in Jodhpur at our Sambhali Boutique, located in the centre of the city.

But you can also purchase them online as a wholesaler or for yourself to enjoy!

To find out how, simply e-mail 

Shopping with Sambhali Trust means shopping ethically, honestly and sustainingly.

And there's no better feeling than that!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Our Colorful Centres!

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off of our souls" 
- Pablo Picasso

At Sambhali Trust, we know how important an inspiring work environment is, and we want all of our students to be able to learn in a positive and colorful space. 

So for the past few weeks, we have been working very hard at decorating the walls of our centres.

Here's some of the art that our students and volunteers have created so far!

Sambhali Laadli Empowerment Centre

The students and volunteers, Anita and Morgan, worked together to paint this beautiful tree with "leafs" of their hand prints. 
The painting brings more life to the otherwise dark walls and reminds the girls about the community that they are apart of at Sambhali.

They also painted artwork of women doing different professions, such as a nurse, lawyer and tennis player to name a few!
This is a constant reminder that with education, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to!

Brothers for Sisters Empowerment Centre

Here, our students and volunteers painted the walls with quotes from an inspirational girl that we all know and love - Malala Yousafzai!
She is an inspiration to our students!
 What better way to remember the importance of education than to allow the students to read her words as they study.

Jodhpur Empowerment Centre

On a recent Workshop Wednesday, the students at JEC made Dream Collages. They cut pictures and inspirational words from newspapers and then glued them to paper.
Our students dreams varied with everything from owning their own home, travelling the world, being a doctor, having a family, and winning Miss India!
No matter what their dream was, big or small, we encouraged them that by continuing their education and working hard they can and will accomplish these dreams!
We decorated the walls of the center with these dreams in order to keep that inspiration to study hard. 

To learn more about Sambhali Trust, check our our Facebook page -

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday Workshop with Tamu Bakery!

On Wednesdays We Workshop!

Usually, the volunteers coordinate different interactive workshops for our students to participate in every Wednesday. These workshops range in subjects; from yoga classes to PowerPoint presentations about the importance of learning English to lessons on global warming.

However this past Wednesday, we were fortunate enough to welcome women's rights activist, Yana Spencer, to Sambhali Trust to bake with our students while discussing human rights, gender based violence and human trafficking. 

Yana operates a donation-based, charity bakeshop in Sri Lanka called Tamu Bakery. All the proceeds received from her baking go to fund the empowerment workshops that she puts on for women around the world. 

Yana told us that when discussing gender issues that oppress women, it helps to incorporate baking because, 
"Nobody can say no to cookies!"

Yana visited four of our empowerment centers - Sisters for Sisters, Brother for Sisters, Laadli and Shakti - where she taught our students how to bake a healthy and nutritious cookie with ingredients that are accessible to them. After sampling the cookies during class, each student was also sent home with some raw dough so that they could bake the cookie at home and share it with their families.

Yana inspired our girls to stand up for their rights and to fight for their dreams! She encouraged them to continue pursuing their education because it is their right as a human being! And she told them how powerful women can be when they stand together! 

Thank- you Yana! 

For more information, check out

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Meet Nicola!

At Sambhali Trust, we are fortunate enough to have volunteers from all over the world come and join our empowerment team! 

Some volunteers come to Sambhali through organizations that we have partnered with, whereas others have discovered us through their own research.

Regardless of how they've arrived, they each add knowledge, enthusiasm and passion to our many centers. 

So who are these amazing people willing to volunteer their time to help the women of Jodhpur?

Let us introduce you....

10 Questions with Nicola Walker

1. Where are you from? Originally from Wales but living and working in London, England. 

2. What do you do back home? I was a director at an organization called the Confederation of British Industry, which lobbies the UK Government on business issues in attempt to create a more prosperous economy for all. 

3. What inspired you to volunteer? I wanted a change in my career and thought that rather than going from one full-time job to the next, why not take a few months out and do something completely different while still using my skills. I'm also a trustee at a women's refuge in the UK and I wanted to explore what effect my knowledge and experience could have on a beautiful country like India before applying such skills to my commuter life!

4. How long are you working at Sambhali Trust? I'll have been here for two and a half months once I leave at the end of April. It's passed far too quickly!

5. What's your volunteering position? I am helping Sambhali on several fronts, including preparing the annual report, changing the way we present the organization to make it more accessible for new audiences and our valued donors, and finding ways to link, either through partnerships or financial assistance, the thriving business community in Jodhpur with the Trust. I have also prepared a number of workshops for the volunteers to use in the empowerment centers that range from simple business and communication skills, to the importance of education, to teaching the students how to articulate their future goals. 

Nicola visiting with women from one of Sambhali's many projects, as she prepares educational workshops for them

6. Best part about living in India? That wonderful moment when you meet another woman in the streets and she see that you are not only a woman as well but also a Westerner and she breaks out in the biggest smile possible!

7. Describe Jodhpur in one sentence. Nothing like the trousers.

8. You can only eat one Indian food for the rest of your life, what is it? Pav bhaji - so naughty but so good!

9. Favorite place to travel to in India? Udaipur for the beautiful water and views!

Nicola on a weekend trip away from Jodhpur
10. Fill in the blank...To me, Sambhali Trust is all about _________ 
Harnessing the strength and resolve of women to improve the lives of their daughters. 

Interested in becoming a volunteer like Nicola? 
Check out our website for more information!

Meet Constance!

At Sambhali Trust, we are fortunate enough to have volunteers from all over the world come and join our empowerment team! 

Some volunteers come to Sambhali through organizations that we have partnered with, whereas others have discovered us through their own research.

Regardless of how they've arrived, they each add knowledge, enthusiasm and passion to our many centers. 

So who are these amazing people willing to volunteer their time to help the women of Jodhpur?

Let us introduce you....

10 Questions with Constance Von Igel

Constance surrounded by some girls from the Boarding Home, where she assists them with their homework and provides advice for their personal lives 

1. Where are you from? Sao Paulo, Brazil.

2. What do you do back home? I'm currently on my gap year before starting University in the fall.

3. What inspired you to volunteer? The idea of getting away and helping people simultaneously was very appealing to me.

4. How long are you working at Sambhali Trust? Two months.

5. What projects do you volunteer at? I'm an English and Maths teacher at Shakti and a volunteer at the Boarding Home. 

Constance with some of her students at the Shakti Empowerment Center - Sambhali Trust's 16th ongoing project

6. Best part about living in India? How I am able to find a lot of peace within its chaos.

7. Describe Jodhpur in one sentence. Home away from home.

8. You can only eat one Indian food for the rest of your life, what is it? Biryani rice with pomegranate seeds for garnish! 

9. Favorite place to travel to in India? Looking forward to seeing the Taj Mahal in Agra and Varanasi!

10. Fill in the blank... To me, Sambhali Trust is all about _____
Helping women like myself get the opportunities that have been offered to me on a silver platter throughout my life but are often inaccessible to them. It is about empowering women to believe that they too have the potential to achieve great things!

Interested in becoming a volunteer like Constance? 
Check out our website for more information!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Corinne Rose - Trust Administrator

As part of UN Women’s 16 days to End Violence Against Women, we have been interviewing some of the staff and women involved here at Sambhali. This is part 3 – an interview with Corinne, our Trust Administrator. Corinne started as a volunteer in Sambhali in 2009 and established the sewing centres for the graduates, the Boutique and the international orders as well as doing the administration work. She returned to the UK in 2014, from where she has continued to fulfil her role of Administrator.

Corinne with the Graduates

Living in India for over 5 years, Corinne has experienced the lack of equality between men and women and feels that domestic violence is caused through men feeling inadequate – that they feel that they are unable to provide for their family financially, due to their low-paid job or lack of education; they often have large families and so many mouths to feed and feel the pressure of responsibility to provide for them. Men feel dominant in this patriarchal society and therefore women aren’t able to take an equal role in the marriage and consequently an equal share of the overall responsibility.  Male pride hinders any real discussion in discussing practical and personal problems and men can then turn to alcohol which exacerbates the situation. In India the drink of choice is whisky, which they may have started at the age of 16 and so alcoholism sets in at an earlier age – mid-30s. Even though these men may have had a good education, a good job and a lovely family, they cannot or do not want to understand what alcohol does to their bodies. Education on alcoholism is absolutely necessary. Corinne feels that more support and education should be provided; more workshops where men can seek help to understand their addiction and the need for support; similarly, counselling groups for men who are prone to violence to gain an understanding and prevent abuse happening.

TV programmes and advertising would be one of the most influential ways to help change the attitudes of men towards domestic violence.

  • To stop all domestic violence in tv soap operas which all sectors of society avidly watch on a daily basis. (Men usually seen slapping women as a normal mode of behaviour).
  • Use TV as a platform to show that it's ok for men to seek help through support groups/alcoholism groups and how their family benefits.
  • To promote equality of girls and boys to demonstrate to parents with existing preference for the boy child

Also to provide education in the state school curriculum to educate children to have respect for each other using role-play workshops to educate the next generation.  

Help to empower women and provide them with vocational training so they are able to provide an income for themselves and their families.  To encourage gender equality by providing women and girls with self-esteem and self-confidence in their own abilities.

Words & photography by Corinne Rose

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Pinky's Story

As part of UN Women's 16 days to End Violence Against Women, we have been interviewing some of the staff and women involved here at Sambhali. This is Part 2 - an interview with Pinky, one of the students at our Jodhpur Empowerment Centre.


In most countries, there is an assumption that domestic abuse is limited to the confines of a couple. In India, this is further translatable as a married couple. However, this is far from the case. When speaking of domestic abuse, especially in this part of the world, it is crucial to recognize that abuse commonly stretches beyond the parameters of a marriage, to involve the extended family. Here, married couples are expected to live in the husband's childhood home, where the wife is subject to the authority of his family. Sadly, this additional dependency means that in-law abuse is a common occurrence across the country, and sadly Jodhpur is no exception. Rather, here at Sambhali it seems that the majority of women claiming domestic abuse will mention the involvement of their in-laws.

Pinky, a recent addition to Sambhali’s Jodhpur Empowerment Centre, is fighting to stay positive having emerged from four years of devastating abuse at the hands of her husband, and his family. To those acquainted with domestic violence, Pinky’s story is a familiar one. As is so often the case anywhere in the world, it was only after an initial honeymoon period that a pattern of abuse began to noticeably manifest itself. Following the wedding, Pinky had two peaceful months before her new family first exhibited the controlling behavior that would quickly escalate into psychological and physical torment.

'My mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and my father-in-law dictated my every movement. I was confined to one room, and not even allowed to look out of the window, or bathe, without their permission. My food was withheld from me, and I was forbidden to talk to any of the neighbors, or even my parents. I was like a slave, I had to clean and cook every day from before dawn to after midnight.’

Far from helping his wife, Pinky’s husband exploited the situation to legitimize his own cruelty - 'I never knew when the beatings would come next, once he pushed my head in the toilet because I placed something in the 'wrong' place. He beat me in front of his mistress.’
Hoping that a child might ease her situation, Pinky planned her pregnancy early in the marriage. However, the birth of her daughter only aggravated the cycle of abuse. Her mother-in-law especially would taunt her for failing to produce a boy, and would publicly label the child as illegitimate-accusing Pinky of an extramarital affair. While her husband did not confirm these accusations, he nevertheless maintained a level of antipathy towards his child.

Eventually however, Pinky did reach a breaking point. Upon the discovery that her husband made a living primarily from pimping, she offered to work for a cleaner wage. Desperately short of money, her husband presented Pinky with an ultimatum. She was given the choice of either formally prostituting herself; sleeping with her father-in-law, who in return would ‘give her anything’; or asking her own family for money. Knowing that her family themselves had been struggling with poverty since the payment of her dowry, Pinky was aware that they simply could not afford to support her further.

Her husband's obsessive demands for money were coupled with violent episodes. By this stage, he was drinking frequently and beginning to lose control over himself. Every day was a torment of aggression, and violent confrontations- ‘Once he tried to gas us with the cooking cylinder’. Since her wedding, Pinky had been threatened never to reveal her home conditions to her family, however her husband’s unpredictable behavior caused Pinky to completely break down in a state of terror. 'I would forget what I was saying mid-sentence, I was a mess. I was so scared of him, I eventually forced myself to tell my mother what was happening'.

By finally revealing the extent of her situation to her mother, Pinky broke the silence that had held her hostage for the past 4 years. It has now been 11 months since Pinky has estranged herself from her husband. Today, Pinky's primary concern is to achieve economic independence from her parents, to support her daughter and begin her life again. Two months ago, she was introduced to Sambhali Trust, and since then has been working hard to educate herself, and learn to sew in order to sustain a steady income as a seamstress. When reflecting on her past, she hopes that other girls in a similar situation will have the courage to leave their abusers. She says 'Indian tradition teaches us to accept everything and anything, and that it is our duty to hold our marriage together. But the abuse will never stop, and they will never lose the taste for violence. Never tolerate, always fight back.'

Words by Beatrice Sell, Photography by Catherine Thomas

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ms Manju Mehta - 'Sambhali’s very own superwoman’

As part of UN Women's 16 days to End Violence Against Women, we have been interviewing some of the staff and women involved here at Sambhali. This is Part 1 - an interview with Ms Manju Mehta - 'Sambahli's very own superwoman'.

Ms. Manju Mehta

For the past 6 years, Ms Mehta has been the voice behind the Sambhali Trust domestic abuse helpline, working tirelessly as its principle caseworker. Personally handling approximately 25 cases a month, Ms Mehta has accumulated valuable insight into the complexities surrounding domestic abuse in Rajasthani society. Every day she acts as counselor to the victims, mediating between them and their families, in addition to representing the women in front of third parties, such as the police and courts. Ultimately, she is working to stop the cycle of violence through intervention, and if possible, ensure economic and social independence to the women in its aftermath.

Nevertheless, while she has achieved an admirable level of success in helping countless women, there is only so much a single person, or a single organization, can do to support the huge percentage of Indian women currently suffering domestic abuse. The problem is endemic, and above all societal. According to Ms Mehta - 'it is the lack of education of both men and women, along with women's economic and social dependency on men, that is the real root of this problem'. Here, women pass their entire lives answerable to men. A woman is dependent first on her father, then on her husband, and eventually, on her son. After marriage, she moves from her parent's house directly into the house of her husband's parents. 'We are taught that men are always the priority. Abuse does not come into the question. Rather, if an argument does occur, we are taught it's our responsibility to smooth it over’.  

The hardest part of her job, Ms Mehta admits, is being confronted by the indifference of her state to the plight of these women. Although legislation against domestic abuse exists, the crime is met with impunity. The police are corrupt, and often condone abuse as legitimate. Mrs. Mehta has found that in many instances the police will even actively obstruct cases made against the perpetrators. 'The police are a big problem. They contact the husband, families, and accept bribes to shut the case down. Again, this is a societal issue. They need to understand that domestic abuse is a human rights violation, and not an acceptable part of Indian society’.  

Text by Beatrice Sell, Photogrpahy by Catherine Thomas.