We are in this together! Lata didi’s story..

“We are in this together,” I hear everyone on social media post inspirational  quotes and try to remind everyone about how social distancing is bringing  us all together. I couldn’t help but wonder how a person living in the  comfort of their house with access to social media and Netflix, can relate  to a daily wage labourer who is struggling to make ends meet or  understand the plight of a child in a shelter home with poor facilities. Are  we really in this together?  I decided to do my bit and connect with people during the lockdown by  doing something impactful.

I got an opportunity to intern with a non-profit  organisation called Zestreet and this was my turning point.  I had a wonderful opportunity to speak to Lata didi, one of the  women associated with Zestreet. Lata didi and I belong to a different age  group, grew up in a different part of the country, and yet have so much in  common. Coming from a disadvantaged community in Delhi, Lata didi dreamt of being a teacher. As a  student, she had extraordinary love for knowledge and dedication towards  learning. She was not only a bright student but an ambitious one too.  Growing with the dream of serving her people, she wanted to work for the  betterment of her society and the women around her by becoming a  teacher. She grew up in a supportive family where her father encouraged  her education and stood up against anyone who asked to get her married  off before completing education but, little did she know that she would  eventually have to give up on her dreams owing to the deep rooted custom  of our society that prioritizes marriage over career and urges women to  give up their dreams and live the life that the society finds ideal for them.  Lata didi’s grandfather got her married at the age of 20, after she finished her high school. Soon after her marriage, she had begun to accept her life as it  was but her ambitions never died, the little dedicated girl in her was still alive.

Many years into marriage and after becoming a mother of three, her  responsibilities overpowered her dreams and she started to live her life  living up to the expectations of her family and society. She had forgotten to speak. But, life had planned differently  for her and​ ​destiny gave her a chance to outshine, Zestreet being the medium. After being introduced to Zestreet, Lata didi was introduced to a world  that valued her dedication.  The little ambitious student in her was given another chance to live her  dream. She learnt the skill of handicraft which became her medium of expression and a mode of livelihood. She was not only exposed to a world where women were  believed in but it also helped her provide a better and beautiful life to her  children. She was finally an independent woman who could support herself and her  family financially without having to seek help from others. 

Today, Lata didi’s work is acknowledged globally. Having her work praised and  appreciated all around the world, motivates and encourages her to work  even harder and live a life better than ever. Though, it took sometime but her family became a source of constant support and encouraged her being a part of Zestreet.  She credits Zestreet for bringing out a confident and independent  woman out of the shy person that she was. She now leads a financially  independent life and feels empowered. She has two daughters and a son  and ensured that all of them get to go to school and live their dreams too! 

Today, she inspires other women in her community by sharing the skills  that she has learnt and is also a front line worker during this pandemic. In a society where women are made to quit their dream work and believe that their marriage is all that matters, Lata didi has stood out to fight this  stereotype by chasing her dreams after becoming a mother, despite living in a community that discourages women from being independent. There is a Lata in each and everyone of us. We just have to believe in our  inner voice, turn away from all the distractions and remind ourselves, We  are in this together!   – Mahaq Tromboo

नये दौर की उड़ान

इक्कीसवीं सदी, तेज़ भागती जिंदगी मोटर,कार,सडकें, शहरीकरण लोगों की बदलती सोच!

लगता है मानो हम पुरानी चीजों और पुरानी रूढ़िवादी सोच को भी पीछे छोड़ आये हैं! “माहिला पुरूष एक समान इक्कीसवीं सदी का नारा” – पर क्या सच्च मे !

लगता तो नही,

शहरों मे औरते मर्दो से कंधे से कंधे मिला कर चल रही, आज महिलाओं का कद पुरुषों से ऊँचा है! महिलाएँ घर ही नही ऑफ़िस भी संभाल रही है! इस पुरूष प्रधान समाज मे महिलाओं को शुरु से ही बेडीयों मे बाँधे रखा, नदी रूपी औरत को कितना ही क्यों नरोको, एक न एक दिन वो सारे बाँध तोड ही देती है और अपनी मरजी से उफान भरती है!

रामाभी इसी नदी के समान है, कई चट्टानों ने,पत्थरों ने इसका रास्ता रोका, रामा के संघर्ष के बहाव के आगे कुछ भी नहीं टीका!

रामा, एक 42 साल की अधेड़ माहिला, जिसे देखकर ऐसा लगता है मानो उम्र की इस दहलीज पर आकर जिंदगी का हर तर्जुबा जी चुकी हो, पर ऐसा नही है!रामा एक गैर सरकारी संगठन(एन.जी.ओ) मे काम करती है, जिसका नाम है- ज़ेस्ट्रीट! इन दिनो रामा सिलाई का काम सिख रही, सीख ही नही रही बल्कि 25से30 महिलाओं को सीखा भी रही है! एक बार कोई गुण या कला आ जाएँ तो वो लोगो के बीच प्रदर्शित होती है! आज रामा एक आत्मनिर्भर माहिला है, जो ना तो अपने पति और ना तो ससुराल वालो पर अश्रित है! आज रामा को देखकर ऐसा लगता जैसे किसी लड़की कों दोबारा जिंदगी के अनुभव लेने का मौका मिला हो!

पर क्या रामा की कहानी शुरू से ऐसी ही थी, जवाब है- नही! रामा 12वी पास है, उसकी शादी एक चौथी पास लड़के से करा दी गई! पति शकी मिजाज का, रामा सुंदर और रुपवान थी! यही कारण था की उसका पति उस पर संदेह करता था!संदेह वो मानसिक रोग जो विश्वास रुपी फूल को मुर्झा देता ! वो रामा को बाहर नही निकलने देता, पड़ोसियों से बात नहीं करने देता! उसे लगता था की रामा को अपनी खुबसूरती पर बड़ा अभिमान है! उसकी अभिलाषा थी की वो इस मधुरिम को अपनी मुठ्ठी मे बंद करके रखें और हुआ भी ऐसा ही

रामा करीबन छ: साल तक अंधरे मे रही, छ: साल तक सूरज की रोशनी तक उस पर नही पड़ी! पति इलेक्ट्रिशियन था, घर मे अक्सर पैसो की कमी रहती थी, जिस के कारण रामा का पति उस पर घरेलू हिंसा किया करता था! अपने से कमजोर पे बल प्रदर्शित करना कायरता की निशानी है! वक़्त गुजरता रहा, रामा इसी को अपना नसीब समझ कर जी रही थी! रामा के अब बच्चे भी हो गये है उन्हें सँभालने की जिम्मेदारी भी रामा पे आ पड़ी, रामा ने फैसला किया कि अब वो काम करेगी! रामा ने पनद्रह साल तक जीन्स के धागे काटने का काम किया जिससे वो अपने बच्चे की स्कूल की फीस जमा करती थी! रामा का बाहर काम करना उसके पति को पसंद नही था!

हम चाहे कितना भी बेटियों को सशक्त कर ले उनके अधिकारों की माँग कर ले पर जब तक हम अपने बेटों को ये नही सीखते की उन्हें महिलाओं का सम्मान करना चाहियें उन्हें महिलाओं को बढ़ने का मौकों देना चाहियें,अगर लड़के ये सब जान ले तो शायद समाज मे महिलाएँ सर उठा कर जी सके!

इसके बाद रामा ने ज़ेस्ट्रीट एन.जी.ओ के साथ काम करना शुरू किया! एन.जी.ओ के साथ काम करने पे रामा मे कई बदलाव आयें ! यहां उसने अपनी आवाज़ उठाना सिखा लोगों सें बात करना सिखा, सिलाई करना सिखा, अपने हुनर को निखारा, अब लोग रामा को बिग बॉस बुलाते है! ज़ेस्ट्रीट के साथ जुड़ने के बाद रामा ने कमाना शुरु किया आज रामा छ: से सात हजार रूपए महीने के कमा लेती है! इन पैसों से रामा अपने बच्चों के सपने पूरे करेगी! एक समय, रामा ज़ेस्ट्रीट में काम करती थी, वही आज रामा ज़ेस्ट्रीट मे प्रशिक्षक केपद पे काम कर रही है !लडकियां तो रामा की कला और उसका सिलाई के प्रति ज्ञान देखकर हैरान ही रह जाती है! ज़ेस्ट्रीट ने रामा के पति से बात की और उसके औरतों के प्रति रविये को भी बदला ! जिंदगी के इतनेथप्पडे खाने क़े बाद भी रामा का कहना है कि-“ ये हमारे हाथ मे की हम किस तरह जिंदगी जीते है और किस तरह मुश्किल हालात सें बाहर निकलते है” !

लेखक – मनीष यादव

क्या मैं इंसान नही !

“नारी रे नारी”

नारी रे नारी जरा बता अपना हाल,

क्या हुआ तेरे साथ,

थी,तू सुंदर और महान,

तो क्यों खो दिया तूने अपना सम्मान,

क्यों जाला दिया सारा अंबार!

हां,खो दियामैने सम्मान,

जाला दिया सारा अंबार,

आज समाज से है मेरा सवाल

मेरी क्यों पहचान नही,

मेरी क्यों आवाज़ नही,

खुले आसमान में उड़ान नही,

क्या मैं इंसान नही !

– मनीष यादव

Art too starts from a seed!

ram-ji

This post is about Ramawtar Singh and his unique artistic workshops which spread positivity, enthusiasm and foster skill development. In today’s day and age where people are mindlessly chasing money, power and creature comforts, this simple living guy pursues his passion and in a subtle way paves way for so many to unleash their talents and skills through his workshops, which could turn out to be a great source of income for them.

ramawatar

Just a thing about Ramji – all kinds of animals and insects are his best friends. Don’t get scared if you find him holding a snake someday:) Ramji conducted a workshop for one of my clients where he made them make jewellery from natural seeds and beautiful baskets from waste papers. And I myself was lucky enough to attend one of his workshops “It starts from a seed“. This 5-6 hours workshop that he conducts across India revolves around creating beautiful jewellery from natural seeds. Sounds interesting right? It indeed is.  Imagine working on to make jewellery with a plethora of seeds, each a unique one with different shades of brown primarily but with reds, the whites and greys as well to add brightness. And tiny drilling machines, cutters and lot many wires to give our seeds the structure of our desired jewellery.

The beauty of this workshop is that your imagination is your limit. Nothing else. One can make any jewellery that comes to their mind – be it a pair of earrings, a neck piece, a bracelet etc. You can let your creative juices flowing and start off. Drilling is still easy but wiring is an art, especially the spirals. But with practice, this can be mastered.

I would highly recommend meeting this guy and attending one of his workshops. You can find the updates of his upcoming events on his facebook profile. _________________________________________________________________

About the Author: Swati is a result-oriented Brand Marketing professional.  A blogger who touches upon the various nuances of life through her writings. She  loves traveling and takes lot of interest in knowing  different forms of arts. She is also a life coach and guides youth programs under The Art of Living (AOL) workshops.

Follow her on twitter @swatigupta_12

Read her writings:https://ramblingmindofswati.wordpress.com

 

How NGOs should empower communities!

index

The importance of people’s beliefs on their emotional well being is not given its due by lot of social organisations engaged in the uplifting these groups. Too much importance is given to providing jobs, training and financial support, almost overlooking the fact that sometimes these honest efforts may make them dependent if one does not empower them from within.

Often fairly ‘miraculous’ things seem to happen when people change their limiting beliefs regarding themselves and their state of affairs;

Three common areas centre around issues of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness that exert a great deal of influence on a person’s esteem.

Hopelessness; when one does not believe a good life is even possible.

“No matter what I do or is done for me it won’t make a difference with the way the govt or society views us. Yet they forget that it is the way they view themselves that really makes the difference. It is an inside out revolution that most NGOs engaged in up lifting these people, need to concentrate on

Helplessness; even though one believes the outcome is possible, yet no belief of capability of attaining it.

“It’s possible for others but not for me. I’m not good enough or capable enough to accomplish it.” Show them the power of their own mind and what self belief is able to achieve regardless of circumstances.

Worthlessness; believes that the desired goal is possible and in the capability to accomplish it, yet I don’t deserve it.

We should start showing them the real power of their own mind and how much understanding, and respecting themselves can make the real difference. Show them that whatever their circumstance is, they are the same within and it is up to them to make the best of what is available and not waste time or energy in what they don’t have or can’t do!!

Empower their ‘Self’, who they actually are..!


About the author: Dr. A. Abraham is a certified practitioner and trainer of NLP, an M.B.B.S from Trivandrum Medical College and M.D in Dermatology from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. His passion for NLP, led him to give up his medical career in the United Kingdom and concentrate full time on spreading the awareness of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). He has trained thousands of professionals and students across the country.

Follow him on fb: https://www.facebook.com/mindmasters

A skill can free a woman!

I was recently told by someone –a woman has two birth; one when she is born and second when she gets married.  The former is directed towards a journey-unaware of the possible challenges one may face and the latter is about being a fettered slave in order to let patriarchy continue even when it is not the only option one may have (to be discussed). Where this man made adage is practiced in most of the geographies of the world, a bitter fact sustains parallel to it which has been overlooked for ages now and which apparently happens to be the third birth of a woman!

What if the man dies? What if a husband dies?

Mousi (aunty in English) a woman, a mother, a widow, I met in Pune. It was when I had reached Wadgaonsheri in Pune much before the schedule of meeting with an NGO, so I took refuge in her small vada pav shop (fried potatoes cutlet with bread; a famous delicacy of Maharashtra). A temporary thatched roof, a cart to cook and carry her stuff, one rickety table and a bench made an uber-ventilated eatery for Mousi and her guests.  Initially I was hesitant to sit there seeing it occupied only by bus drivers.  But then their radiating candidness comforted me to join them! Everyone called her “Mousi”, chatting and gossiping with light humor, it looked like a family to me! Soon the drivers left and I also had piping hot vada pav served with fried green chilly. Now, you must be wondering why I am being so verbose about what, where and how of her small eatery . Because when we see a woman running a business/shop so confidently, it is a sight to be awed at, even today.

“Gobbling the yummiest vada pav on earth”, bet you, I asked the recipe from her. She instantly said nay and that she couldn’t reveal it. I wondered the reason! She then said that she would tell the recipe to her daughter only and would open a restaurant soon for her to run.

I to myself-Okay!! (In sheer amazement of her confidence)

Smilingly she said this small business saved her life when her husband died years ago. She was young when her husband was killed by his relatives over a quarrel on a land issue. And how her life changed with that episode! She had no resort for income, totally handicapped and unprepared for this human-catastrophe, had to face abject poverty and all those social stigma/issues that follow death of a husband.

She then had no choice but to die or to live with dignity. What could she do without basic education and in the absence of vocational knowledge? There are no Godfathers of widows! She then used her cooking skill and started selling vada pav. How this idea struck her, no idea she says. Gradually, her small eatery became known among the locals. Not only did it help keep her head above water but also her daughter could get proper education because of what she earned.

It was very difficult to run this shop initially, people and their questioning eyes, she sighed. But, her staunch conviction helped her rise above the situation. With a smirk on her face, she said “it was my destiny that I survived” but it doesn’t happen to every widow or abandoned girl!

A girl is born to get tied with a man who happens to be the sole owner of her life (her desires, wishes, decisions, misery and her happiness). She looks up to her parents until she is married, and then the reign is handed over to another man, an absolute case of destiny!

Our society has taken to see women succumbing to circumstances posed by by life and the society itself and thus a “woman in a girl” is born every day!

Why not educate our girls and equip them to live their life independently! Mousi used her cooking skills to make her living and to win over the challenges!

Zestreet draws huge inspiration from Mousi and wishes to hone skills those are specific to each individual!!

“Okay Okay”

poonam blog

Helping someone is a great thing but helping oneself in the most adverse conditions is a story worth knowing!

So one fine day, we got a call from our aunt saying she wanted to take us to some known women who needed our help. Entering a tapered street, we stopped at an intersection standing where aunt called her name- Poonam! There she was, veiled cap-a-pie. We asked her few basic questions- what she does, how many children she has, if she would be able to take some time out for tailoring project etc. Since Hindi has become a tedious language for some of us to express ourselves, we tend to utter lines in English also, unknowingly! Never had we expected a response in the same language though! As we proposed Poonam if she could also work from home, to which she replied “OKAY OKAY”! We were stunned to hear that. And then we deliberately started shooting things in English and she kept nodding accordingly, not just like that, but she could understand everything we spoke of. Intrigued, we asked her how she knew the language so well. She said- it is blessing of my mentor with whom I did my first and the last job. He would not just make me do regular work that I was paid for but he would also encourage me to learn English which he thought I should be equipped with. Since then it became a journey to learn new things one by one- English, computers and other office accounting work.  That one year changed my life for good.

Poonam’s mother is a single parent, all her life she worked as a maid to raise three daughters. Poonam being the eldest was married off first. Despite living in a place where education and awareness is rare to find, women like Poonam and her mother set an example of being hopeful amidst no opportunities!

Since then Poonam has been working with Zestreet , she is also a trainer to other women of the community.  She is learner, an observer and a fighter! We are so proud of her!!

The only resentment..!

Zestreet was coined using two words Zest and Street; a place full of life, happiness and hope! Of course, it is a transformed society/community we envision each time thinking of it! But transformation is a process which initiates from the naked reality that makes this world look so crass at times.  It was a Monday morning when we were reviewing the art work made by Poonam, one of our community members.  She is a woman with a smile!  While discussing the assignment, a young lady entered the room, spruced and bold, leaned herself against the wall. Poonam introduced her as Rekha. Her presence and questions that were eluding through her eyes made us ask if she could also work with us. The sternness on her face went mild and she asked about the work NGO does. We gave a brief and also enquired if she was facing any problem in her life since she looked distended with something unknown to us and even to herself.

To our sheer amazement, the firm lady broke down in tears and could not utter a word for next few minutes. Everyone in the room fell silent and tried comforting her with some patting. And then she said “the only resentment is that I have never been allowed to step out of home, neither my own parents allowed and nor my husband did. Today, when I face acute monetary issues I just cannot do anything about it. I am mere a prisoner of my limitations and circumstances. I have turned silent over these years so much so, I don’t even know if my throat has a voice.” And her daughter has congenital mental disorder that adds to her struggle.

Freedom is what we all seek. Even a prison made of gold is a confinement only..!

How Zestreet is contributing in Rekha’s life

Rekha has been working with Zestreet since then. She has been given tailoring workshop and gets regular assignments that fetch her money.   Her daughter will soon be provided with medical assistance and therapy. One little step for someone changes everything about two lives, the provider and the receiver.  Zestreet team feels so happy for Rekha! Much more to achieve in future!

%d bloggers like this: