Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Thoughts from Setrawa

Thoughts from Setrawa by Juliette K. from France

I had the chance to stay in Setrawa during three weeks in July as a volunteer for Sambhali. I would like to share my experience and to encourage the other volunteers to go there.

First of all, its a way to really experience the way of life of a rural family in India, and also, to discover how women live there every day, what are the rules they have to follow and how it does change their lives.

Even if you have less comfort than in Jodhpur, you can meet a lot of women, girls and family, and have the chance to become really close to them, because they always invite you to take a tea, and they are really interested in sharing with foreigners.

In this village, you can find everything, but the level of education and per consequences, the condition of life for the women are still very hard and dictated by all the customs, deeply present in the village. All these traditions make the things very hard to be changed. But I believe that the simple thing to walk on the street alone as a foreign young woman can makes the mentalities slowly change.

Moreover, the work that make Sambhali with its Women and Children empowerment center since 10 years has already changed a lot of small, but significant things. Some girls from the lowest cast can now speak a very good English without being gone to school, and help the other girls to progress and to make their homework; there is a lot of houses where there is a sewing machine, used by younger and older women to sew their clothes and to take some orders from their neighbors.

Lots of women can go out of their house for 2 hours per day, to go to the sewing class and meet their friends, exchange, have a social life away from their families and all the heavy rules.

The exchanges with the volunteers are very rich, and depending on the women, its either an occasion to tell them about our culture, just to let them know that the things can be different and maybe, will be different here one day, or its more a listening work, where the women can express their feeling and some intimates things that are taboo here, with us, because we are not involved in the neighborhood's network.

But still some girls and women are not allowed by their husbands to come to the center, and its also very disappointing to see a young student, clever and motivated, being taken out from the center to get married and to leave her family to go to her in laws house.

So there is still a big work to be done in Setrawa. The place of the volunteers is important, because so many children are coming to Peacock class, and there is only three local teachers. The volunteers will have a class and will be free to make their own lessons, with or without the help of a local teacher for the translation in Hindi. Its also very important to bring new and efficient methods in the center and to teach them to the local teacher.

If you stay there, you will leave with the family of one of the 3 local teachers, so you could experience the rural life while getting explanations about the culture and interesting discussions with your host in English. You have a lot of time everyday to go through the village and meet a lot of villagers.

These real relationships, as they are simple and sincere, are richer than every souvenir you could buy in Jodhpur, and make you feel like you are part of a huge womens network all around the earth, very strong and powerful, ready to take more and more power together.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Big Draw Day in aid of Sambhali Trust, India

Big Draw Day in aid of Sambhali Trust, India

On 7th June 2017 children and teachers at Grafton Primary School in Islington, London, joined together with parents, carers and other family members to make a single drawing inspired by Indian pattern. The event was in aid of Sambhali Trust, India.


Artist in Residence Tessa Garland and teacher Helena Blake organised the Big Draw as part of the school’s annual, Bring a Parent to School Day.  The event was hugely successful with one parent saying, ‘This is the most fun I have had in many years and so great to be creative with my child’.

The school set a challenge to make a drawing 25 metre long but the final length exceeded all expectations and measured an impressive 73 metres! The quality of the drawing was extremely high and showed off just how talented the children and parents are at Grafton School.

To date the school has raised £1335.90 which will sponsor and enable children in Jodphur, India to go to school. It is hoped that links will be created between the two schools so that children can learn more about each other’s cultures.

Nitsa Sergides, Head Teacher was delighted with the Big Draw and wishes to pass on her best wishes to Sambhali Trust in India.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Who Made My Clothes? Profile 6 of 6: Kavita's Story

Name: Kavita
Age: 26
Married: no
Children: no

Kavita is 26 years old and is the product developer at Sambhali trust. She was born in Punjab, a less conservative state in the north of India. Unlike most women working at our centre Kavita went to school for 12 years and studied at a Univeristy in Jodphur. She got her degree in fashion designing in 2013. At the end of 2012 Kavita joined Sambhali. At first she was working as a vocational trainer in a centre for women from the Muslim communities but after a year she started to work with the boutique when the project started with 10 ladies. She is now in charge of both our graduate centres, she is responsible for national and international orders, making samples, buying fabrics and training the women as well as teaching them new skills.

“I enjoy my job at Sambhali a lot. I learn everyday something new from the ladies and no day is the same. I like fashion, it's my passion.”

Kavita has one brother and one sister who is also working at Sambhali. Because the social pressure from both society and family in Punjab is significantly smaller, Kavita is not yet married. She has more freedom about deciding who her future-husband will be and has a more independent life than most women in Rajasthan.

“Punjab is more open minded. When I want to get married I can tell my parents and I can also say it if I like someone - it's not a big deal.”

Kavita knows that Rajasthan is a tough ground for women rights and is glad to be part of Sambhali to support the women and is happy about every little step which is achieved to come closer to the main goal of gender equality.

“Child marriage is very bad. The girls don't know what happens with them. And now they are only 18 years old and don't have dreams.”

Kavita's dream for the future is to become a famous fashion designer. She wouldn't want to work in an office but for the moment she wants to stay in Sambhali because she knows how important the trust is for the women.

The girls are so happy to work for Sambhali. It's also a big deal for their families because the girls are leaving the house from the morning until the evening. They like it because it's a safe place, when they come here they feel empowered and free. I like to see that they are getting more confident.”