Read Govandi: Readmitting more than 750 drop-outs into school
Shakti’s first graduates have been true pioneers of change. The Shakti girls campaigned with parents and schools for three months with the aim of getting school dropouts from the community re-admitted into school. In the first year, they were rewarded with 69 reenrollments. Encouraged by their success, the girls have continued with this effort and have set up admission helpdesks and directories to help children and parents understand admission procedures. At last count, they were responsible for readmitting an astounding 759 children back to school.
Taleeme Taraqi: Girls convinced education officer to take changes on the ground
Tired of teachers in their schools not performing their duties, this group of Shakti girls conducted a survey amongst children and parents about their grievances, collated the data and presented a report to the local Education Officer. Impressed with their effort, the Education Officer took cognizance of the problem and the girls followed up with him regularly to ensure that the changes and suggestions that they made were implemented.
Bachpan Bachao: Girls against child marriage
Being forced to get married at an early age is a problem the Shakti girls know about all too well. The Bachpan Bachao group formed a ‘panel’ which included two like-minded mothers to disseminate information to young girls (along with helpline numbers) about the physical, emotional and psychological effects of early marriage as well as about their basic legal rights. This ‘panel’ will, over time, approach families and counsel them in order to prevent early marriage. The more difficult and complicated cases will be referred to local lawyers and NGOs.
UJJALA Project: Water pumps for Haridaspur
In the Haridaspur area of Patna, fetching water is the sole responsibility of girls and women. They have to carry heavy buckets of water over great distances in the extremes of summer and during the ravages of the monsoon. They regularly fall and hurt themselves owing to the weight of the heavy water and in some cases, have been known to suffer from miscarriages. To compound the problem, the girls can only access one hand pump in the area to get water. Shakti girls managed to get the Ward commissioner to visit the area to understand the issue. After assessing the situation, he committed to set up another hand pump making everyday life easier for all girls and women in Haridaspur.
Apna Group: First-aid kit for ragpickers
At one of Mumbai’s largest waste dumping grounds, children work in an extremely risky and hazardous environment and are exposed to a host of diseases and ailments. First aid treatment is ad hoc and injuries often go untreated. Graduates of a Shakti group working in the dumping grounds came up with a brilliant, practical project – to provide first aid kits to girls like themselves working in the dumping grounds. The Shakti girls personally assembled the kits and approached local doctors and hospitals to procure free medicines. The kits are replenished when the supplies run out. The girls also organized first aid and health training which was conducted by a local NGO and which was attended by 20 girls and women.
The Windows Project: Safe toilets for girls and women in Dharavi
In Dharavi's Ashok Mill area, the women’s bathroom was not felt to be safe. Hapless women have witnessed incidents where men were found peeping into the windows of the toilet. Furthermore, the area around the common utility was not felt to be safe at night and women were naturally fearful of using the utility. Nine Shakti girls spoke to other girls who have experienced similar incidents and garnered the support of some of the girls’ mothers. Together fifteen women went to speak to the manager who agreed to keep a full-time guard at the public utility. The girls now feel more comfortable and safe using the public toilets.
Ration Card se Jeevan Sukhi: Working with daughters of sex workers
Without a ration card, there is not much you can do in India. It serves as your identification and, more importantly, is a means to access subsidized food. The girls in this Shakti group were keen to help their own mothers and other women in Mumbai's largest redlight district (who lack the necessary paperwork needed) procure a ration card. With the help of local NGOs, Shakti girls convinced the local ration card officer to help these women submit the registration forms and to that end, 80 forms were filled in. The girls were delighted to be instrumental in procuring Ration Cards and plan to organize these drives frequently.