Sponsor higher education and skill training for a girl child by Akshara Centre

Sponsor higher education and skill training for a girl child

Impact

Nothing could stop Shraddha from chasing her dreams!

Shraddha Shinde is a young woman filled with talent and a drive to succeed. But her life had not always been easy.

Her father passed away when she was in school. He had been the sole breadwinner of the family and his untimely death left the family in a bad situation. Her brother began to work to support the family.

The money that came in was still not enough so her mother began to work as well. She took on stitching jobs during the day but she could not work too long as she had spondylitis. Shraddha’s dreams of becoming an engineer were beginning to fade as her family did not even have enough money to get through a day.

Akshara Center discovered Shraddha and decided to help her pursue her dreams. They provided her with financial help to pay for a course in Electronics and Telecommunication. Through her college days, she went to workshops held by Akshara to build confidence, life skills and interpersonal skills. Upon graduation, she got a job as a trainee engineer with an international corporation!

Young girls like Shraddha are just ones step away from their dreams. All they need is a helping hand to do what they’ve set their hearts and minds on.

You could donate to give girls like Shraddha a chance to study further after school. Your help could make the difference of turning years of education into a career for them. You can give with confidence because every program on our platform is GIVEASSURED.

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By donating to this program

you will be sponsoring the overall costs incurred to support the beneficiaries


About The Program

What the beneficiary gets
Tuition
Holistic Development
What you get
Tax Exemption
Periodic Reports
Program Description

Akshara Centre's 'Empowering Dreams' is a scholarship program for girls in the age group of 16 to 21 years, pursuing higher education. These girls are predominantly from 'single female head families' based out of underprivileged communities in 2 of Mumbai's low-cost housing municipal wards.

Applications are invited from such girls, following which aspiration levels and desire to pursue higher education are assessed via interviews with the applicants. The selected girls are then enrolled in the Life Skills Workshop, where they work towards developing their confidence and interpersonal skills. All the candidates undergo an evaluation at the start and end of the program in order to quantify shift in their life perspectives.

The girls are urged to open bank accounts to deposit their grants, in order to encourage accountability. The program is extensively publicized to ensure it reaches its desired demographic.

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About The NGO

Akshara Centre
Akshara Centre Logo
Akshara Centre

For the past 20 years, Akshara has worked towards a gender just society, where women can live with dignity, free from violence and discrimination. The focus is on empowering young women by imparting job skills, self-improvement skills, awarding scholarships for education and educating young men to become standard-bearers for gender justice individually and within their families and communities.

Akshara empowers women to be aware their rights, live without threats of violence within their homes and communities and build necessary skills to ensure well-being for themselves and their families. Young women are given financial aid to complete higher education as well. The Foundation also conducts gender education presentations at info fairs, educational institutions, and community interactions.

It works closely with the State and the Police administration towards more efficient helpline numbers for women; with the Municipal bodies and public transport authorities for the safety of women. It also joins in networking with city-based and national women's and other groups for legislation and policies.

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founders
Founded in 1991
NGO Leadership

Nandita Gandhi

areas of operation
Area of Operation
Area of Operation

Girl Child | education

location of work
Location of Work
Location of Work

Maharashtra

Akshara Centre has

supported 177 young underprivileged women to complete college education

last audited
Last Audited
Periodic Compliance Checks by GiveIndia

Renewals FY 19-20

Program Updates

Program Updates

4 October, 2021

Sponsor Higher Education and Skill Training for a Girl Child

#5

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Activities and work undertaken in the last 5-6 months

We celebrated New Year and Savitribai Jayanti. We created a virtual space which was an open session for sharing inspiring stories of bouncing back after living in a pandemic hit world. The girls shared their experiences, thoughts and ideas and inspired each other by sharing some positive stories which they see around them. Around 100 young girls participated in this event on the zoom. What’s on your thali today ; A discussion on Connecting with Nature : We organized a webinar in the context of International Women’s Day & 125 people took part. By joining hands with One Billion Rising we introduced the concept of ‘rising gardens, Women and her connection with nature’ Employability Skill Training: We have collaborated with ‘Quest Alliance’ and they are facilitating the training on employable skills for last few years to conduct the workshops on skill training. In the month of January we have organized a workshop on ‘Being the Best in the world ; How to navigate your career Pathway’ for our senior batch of girls and 41 girls attended this session and learnt about planning their career pathway.HaqKartavya ; A discussion on Rights and Duties : We celebrated the Republic Day of our nation along with the young students. around 275 young people attended this event and became more aware about the Rights and duties of young people. Celebrated Valentine’s Day; ‘Let me Love: A discussion on Love and Choosing our partners : We have organized a discussion on Love and choosing our partners with alumni of Akshara and others associated with us over the years. around 94 young women and men participated in this event.Achievements Ration distribution: During the second lockdown most of girls and their families were facing severe financial issues and the Covid-Pandemic induced lockdown and restrictions affected their livelihood and income very deeply and the impact of the damage created is long term. We realized that providing them ration kits for two months to survive the lock down is necessary. We directly distributed ration to 142 young women who are part of EDP programme from areas like:Churchgate, Dadar,Parel,Khatkopar, Chembur. Bandra, Andheri and Jogeshwari. Mentoring for Young girls: We provided young professional volunteers who mentor our girls to help them to build job skills and to develop their soft skills. Mentoring has scaled up and in 2020-21 programme year and 111 girls were mentored by 107 mentors. Mentoring was completely online this year and this helped the girls to manage their schedules to meet their mentors and they did not face mobility restrictions to meet their mentors. Worshops on Mental Health: We have conducted workshop on mental health ‘Creative ways of stress management’ and ‘Building resilience’ in June. We have collaborated with Mpower and their team conducted three workshops on mental health on different days. There were 50 to 65 participants in each of these workshops.


Challenges faced and next steps

Covid -19 has created a lot of challenges to all of us and every organization but also forced us to build strategies to work during the pandemic. Even though the girls were facing immense stress and anxiety we tried to keep them engaged by organising all the workshops and additional events online. We also had to support them whenever they are feeling low. We have provided professional mental health support by joining hands with a Psychiatrist but most of the girls preferred to talk to the team members rather than a professional. We had to dedicate a lot of time to listen to them over phone.One of the challenge was organizing workshops and events during the Covid 19 situations. But we could adapt easily to the neo normal situation and organized all the events and workshops online. We supported the neediest girls to recharge their data plan so that they will be able to attend our events as well as college lectures. We had to rework on our modules which are usually for the full day and to restrict it into small session of one and a half hours. We have created effective modules for all the workshops that we generally organize. We usually support girls with internship and placement opportunities and help them to get jobs. This year due to the pandemic getting those jobs and internships was a challenge. We are helping them to improve their skills and provided continues support to develop employable skills. We helped them to create their CVs and to find out jobs. We have created a WhatsApp group called Information & placement Hub and there are 115 girls in the group. We have shared jobs/ interships related posts regularly in the group. There are 5 girls who have managed to do their internships and 6 girls got jobs during this period. Our Plan for next 6 months Our plan is to reach up to 200 beneficiaries in next 6 months and to organize workshops, events and activities to develop their skills as well as gender understanding. We will be supporting these girls to enroll and take admission in colleges / continue their higher education by providing financial support. We have added few more workshops and activities as per the felt need and suggestions from the girls and we will be preparing modules for the same too.


Stories from the ground

Kajol Jha , A living example of neglected girl child Kajol lives with her grandmother and is finishing her higher secondary from D G Ruparel College in the science stream. She is quite admirable and strong-willed for her age. Her parents left her with her grandmother when she was a year old and moved to Delhi with her two brothers. They did not want to carry the burden of having a girl with them and have not tried to contact her. Ever since then, she has lived with her grandmother, uncle and aunt who take care of her and are close to her. She was a part of another organisation where the social worker suggested she join Akshara’s scholarship program.Her uncle used to work in a private bank and lost his job due to the pandemic. Most of the private sector organisations were laying off their employees throughout the year. He has been looking for another job. Her aunt used to work in a company and she too lost her job since the organisation was unable to pay her salary when the production was affected. The lockdown has been hard on them. Being part of Akshara has helped her to continue her education through the scholarship support. Her interests lie in working in the domain of gender as she feels she understands gender issues on a personal level.“There are some other girls in my group who are from the organisation I was a part of. I spoke to them about what I have been learning from the EDP Saksham programme. There is one girl who is elder to me. I told her how we can be change makers too if we raise our voice against injustice. I am interested in taking up any activity that will help my community.”She shows a keen interest in all the workshops and discussions. She feels the pace set for learning is correct. She further added,“I have never felt comfortable sharing my thoughts with others, but Akshara created a safe and comfortable space for me. I learnt to frame my thoughts and put them in the right words during these interactions. I will continue with Akshara and I am looking forward to joining next year’s programme.”Story of Prachi Gupta, Who improved her skills and changed her perspectives Prachi Gupta is from Vile Parle. Her father is a street vendor who buys vegetables from the Dadar market and sells them at Mira Road. This entire year has been difficult for them because of the pandemic and the lockdown restrictions due to which, his small business was affected. Her mother is a homemaker and her brother is studying in 10th standard. Prachi is a first-year student of L S Raheja College of Arts & Commerce, Santacruz and is pursuing a B.Com degree.She has attended most of the workshops and liked the ‘Gender’ workshop. Within the workshop, the activity where they had to share a picture of a girl breaking gender norms struck a chord with her. According to her, girls lack the proper career guidance and take up an Arts or Commerce line because they are unaware of the other stream options that exist. They are not guided properly by the people whom they ask for advice. Joining Akshara has changed her thought process and the way she responds to situations. She feels the girls have gained confidence through this platform to speak up and her communication skills have seen an improvement. She mentioned, “Mentoring was also something where I got to learn and improve. My mentor guided me well and helped me learn time management and to focus more on my goals.” She shared an incident about her response to people who persuaded her on marriage by telling them that women cannot depend on their husbands and in-laws their whole life. If women got the chance to study and earn from a decent job, she, like the others, would focus on that than marriage. Organisations like Akshara create a unique platform for girls to develop themselves. She describes Akshara with words of freedom, openness, and space to converse where perspectives of girls evolve.


23 March, 2021

Empowering Dream

#4

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The covid 19 pandemic and the immediate lock down affected the girls in multiple ways. They were hit so badly because most of them are children of daily wage earners who are working as street venders, hawkers or laborers. They all lost their livelihood and some of their families got infected with Covid 19 also. Other than the financial issues there were many other problems that they have been facing like violence and pressure of marriage, drop out issues due to lack of income and lack of facilities like phone and internet to work from home or to find out such jobs or to actively participate in their college lectures, problems with coping up with stress and anxiety etc were some of them.


Scholarship Support & Selection of girls : This year we have selected around 170 girls for scholarship for 2020-21 academic year based on the following criteria.
• Her family monthly income should be 20,000 or below.
• She should be a college going student.
• Preference is given to children of single mothers, socially backward categories and girls from minority communities.


Also Akshara has made a change in the programme by introducing a six month certificate course on life skill and perspective building for newly enrolling girls and it is named as ‘Saksham Leadership training Programme’.


Mental Health support and Awareness : We identified the stress and anxiety of our girls has increased during lock down and helped them with psychological support, counseling facility.


We have also realized that they are facing a lot of hygiene issues during the pandemic and to address this we have organized a workshop on ‘Menstruation, health and hygiene’ .


Conducted serried of Workshops on Life- skills. Few are mentioned here:
Why do we fear Violence: Focused on What is gender based violence and why it occurs and how can one prevent violence or stop being a victim of it.
‘What is my gender? A girl , A Boy or A person’:This workshop discussed more about gender and gender discrimination that exist in the society.
‘Are you a change maker : We introduced the idea of leadership, decision making and taking initiatives to change few issues that they have identified in their community.
Perspective building and Employable Skills for Senior Girls : Senior girls are looking forward to complete their graduation and get a job as soon as possible. Hence we have conducted series of workshops on Employability related skills development.



5 July, 2020

Girls learn leadership skills and build confidence

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Girls learn leadership skills and build confidence




This entire year consisted of various activities where many of our girls took part in confidence building, learning leadership goals and indulging in non traditional careers stepping away from the limitations imposed by gender. Some of these activities are listed as follows :-


Workplace Readiness: This workshop was conducted to equip girls in
understanding - Self to make well informed career decisions. It Enabled
them to become Self- Learners to thrive successfully in the 21st century
emerging trends. It helped them create SMART career goals for themselves and
understand critical life skills such as Decision making, Conflict resolution and
Effective communication to foster positive relationships personally professionally.


Non Traditional Workshop: Majority of careers are Male dominated and
women have very limited source of livelihood which are home science,
cooking, tailoring etc. In this workshop, women who have broken the
barriers and created a space for them in the male dominated careers were
spoken about. For e.g.: Geeta Phogat (Wrestler), Veena Patil (Owner of
Veena World- tour and travel etc. The girls were also encouraged to take up careers often branded as only often men such as engineers, pilots, film makers etc.


Mentoring:
Akshara centre collaborated with ISDI School of innovation and Design for
a Mentoring program where few of our selected girls were mentored in
Planning, confidence building, setting their goals for the future, improving their
communication skills to be able to present power point presentations in front of their classmates, college and other people. It helped them to believe in themselves and present with confidence.


Chai Ki Tapri Campaign: There are many places in public where
predominantly males are found, and to break this barrier and reclaim public
spaces, girls did a campaign called Chai ki tapri where in groups they
visited 3-4 chai ki tapris, had tea, discussed with the tapriwala regarding
the lesser number of women coming and drinking tea and how can the
barriers be broken and women also can come and drink tea. Questions of mobility, restrictions and freedom were discussed later as the girls shared their experiences in a closed group.


Goal Setting: Girls were made to do an exercise of writing down what their
future goals were and also to create a pathway of short goals in order to achieve the larger, future goal. We then sat down to find the challenges in the pathway and find solutions to them in order to move ahead. This gave the girls a sense of clarity as to how to achieve their goals.


In the future too, we hope to equip our girls with all necessary skills to build an independent life and make great career choices while constantly battling gender discrimination to build a gender equal and gender just society.



19 November, 2019

Girls indulged in studies and extra-curricular activities

#2

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Girls indulged in studies and extra-curricular activities








22 July, 2019

#1

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Program Update


This year, our ‘Empowering Dreams’ Program gave financial aid to 225 girls and gave them skills and gender trainings. 5 workshops on gender and health were held and the girls also attended CV and Interview Skills workshops. 35 girls applied for jobs and more than 100 girls turned Gender Advocates and took up a series of social actions in public spaces.


Even though our girls are aspiring for ambitious professions, they sometimes lack direction. Our Goal setting workshops were crucial for them to identify their strengths and challenges. These sessions were conducted with small groups of girls on different occasions to provide them individual attention and guidance.


Through our initiative of Placement Cell and creation of Info Hub we could individually helped our beneficiaries by providing information related to career options, scholarship opportunities, details of higher education opportunities and its scope and various nontraditional livelihood opportunities.


Dr.Kamaxi Bhatte , Senior faculty at the Department of Community Medicine and Secretary of SPGRC came forward to take the session on Health during the workshop on ‘Health and Rights.’ A workshop on the different forms of violence and legal rights was also conducted.


We find support of parents critical for girls’ aspiration, enhanced mobility and livelihood possibilities. We attempt to build that through joint programs and also through individual visits and interactions especially with the parents of the core group leaders. One such event called ‘NaateMaitricha’ was held where we tried to bridge the gap of communication between parents and their children and encouraged parents to support their girls’ dreams and aspirations.


Story from the field


Chetna Kajrolkar is 20-years old. Her father is a security guard and her mother is a home maker. She has an elder sister and a younger brother. Being a sole bread winner for the family, her father was struggling to fund Chetna’s higher education along with 2 other siblings.


When Chetna first visited Akshara’soffice , she wasn’t even confident enough to speak to the staff members. She was shy and had struggled in interactions with people. She also wasn’t confident enough to talk in groups. Because of all these reasons, she was unable to build or sustain relationship with friends and family. Things didn’t seem to be working for her on the professional and academic front as well.


Chetna received scholarship from Akshara and she used this scholarship to pursue a Diploma in Architecture from Regional Vocational Training Institute (RVTI). She is currently in her second year. After attending various workshops conducted by Akshara she has developed better professional skills and perspective. The 20-year-old, who had difficulty in making friends and in communicating with people, now cherishes her relationship with classmates and juniors. She now has the confidence to lead activities at Akshara and at her college.


What is the expected total number of beneficiaries in this program for FY18-19?160
What is the number of beneficiaries/ benefits provided in this program, Year-To-Date161
Village/City/State where project is locatedMumbai, Maharashtra
Total Budget for the project for FY18-191000000
Total Expenses for the project YTD1073305