lördag 23 januari 2016

One day adventure with the girls

Coffee meeting and buying material for vocational training 


Yesterday I met with Shilpa (social worker) and Raji (program manager) from the NGO Vidyaranya, at the café Raintree, for updates and to discuss future actions. We also met in order to buy material for vocational training. Raintree is located opposite ITC Windsor Manor Hotel, in a colonial bungalow surrounded with boutiques, and sometimes exhibitions. Not only is the café and boutiques a must to visit, especially since the ambiance is very cozy, but I also wanted to show the girls this place as a possible location for their future collection of handicrafted jewelry. 

When sipping our coffee, Shilpa and Raji informed me about some newcomers in the shelter. Things never stops to amaze me here, how this community and culture is so different from ours, yet so similar ... but things are very much tabu and stigmatized here. For example, sometimes it might happen that teenagers fall in love, but the parents can obviously not agree to this, so they sometimes accuse the boy for rape and tries to institutionalize the girl. You see, parents are accountable to the surrounding community, the school teachers, and the police. And of course, to add to this we have the issue of dowry, which everyone can not afford to pay to the other family. When a girl is "damaged"  the family suffer tremendously and sometimes feel that they have no other option than to send away the girl. It happens so many times that when a girl is raped, the family also tries to force the girl into marriage. Whatever the reason is for girls being in a shelter, is is a huge challenge to help these girls to get integrated back into society again, and at the same time help these girls to become self sustainable. 

Chikpett, Bangalore
In the shelter, sometimes, we face girls with totally different backgrounds and stories. Most are, of course, victims of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Regardless backgrounds, it is always very sad to meet young girls and hear their stories of how they have been exploited or abused, in way or another. However, I strongly believe that institutionalization is not the right way to go about things (which can be the case in some state homes and other shelter facilities). Yesterday we also discussed another case, of a woman who had fallen in love with a man who sexually exploited her and sold her to his friends. The woman later became pregnant, and is now expecting to have her child any time soon at the shelter. The woman had two kids since an earlier marriage as well. What type of future will this woman have? These things are so stigmatized here. Can you imagine Sweden ever treating women like this?! 

Of course, Sweden has developed over a long time. In the development of society from the 1700s until 2000s, one can interpret great changes in men's and women's roles. The woman has gone from her place in the home out to the working life. Now, the history of India is of course completely different with, for example, colonialization and the cast system. However, there is a great need for India to change. Personally I think there is a need to control the population rate and focus more on equal human rights, rather than focus too much on religion. I have nothing against religion at all, but I do not understand how people rather pray and worship instead of helping each other and less fortunate people. Action, rather than worshipping will help this country to progress. Sweden has of course their black spots as well, remember, it was not long ago since we forced sterilized women (up to the 1970s, the practice and debate later continued for transexual people).

Shilpa bargaining for us @ Chikpett 
After having our coffee at Raintree we decided to head out to buy some material for the girls in the shelter so that they can undertake vocational training. Funds for this was used from the christmas donations, as we still had some left. We went to a place called Chikpett market, near Majestic. This place has cheap whole sale items, and our best bet at finding all the items we needed for jewelry making. Shilpa, ever so considerate and happy, constantly worried about my safety and inquired if I was tired. Such a sweet girl! After taking the wrong turns a few times, we finally found a store which had all products we were seeking. It took many hours, but we finally found everything! This area is quite dodgy, and one old man asked Shilpa where she was taking us, insinuating that she was taking us to a location where she could sell us. Possibly cause Shilpa was holding my hand in a firm grip leading us into dodgy roads. The area is known for being a source area for sexual exploitation and kidnappings. Safe and sound, in the early evening we were done and headed out from the market with the help of an auto. We said good buy and decided to meet up the next coming week. 

Shilpa, me and Raji

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