Women and girl’s empowerment centres
Established in 2007, this project focuses on the development and empowerment of women and girls in Rajasthan, a typically conservative area of India. The Trust offers a range of services to some of the most vulnerable groups in society; from vocational training and free education, to microfinance and counselling.
Vocational training is offered in 7 different women’s empowerment centres distributed in local communities that are easily accessed, where the women and girls are given training in sewing skills that can be converted into an income generating programme upon graduation.
Running alongside the skills programme are free classes in Hindi, English and Maths, plus a variety of workshops on topics ranging from health & hygiene, to information technology and space.
Together these programmes help develop the skills, knowledge, confidence and self-esteem of these women and girls, through a social engagement and education that they would not access in their normal community life.
Volunteers are used to deliver English and Maths lessons and run the workshops in the empowerment centres.
Volunteers also help teach English and maths to the children in the street education project, a programme that runs late afternoon each day giving free lessons to some of the most disadvantaged children in Jodhpur.
Volunteers who have strong skills in the design and creation of garments would also be welcome, to help introduce new designs, skills, quality procedures and possibly retail knowledge to the Sewing Centre programme.
Volunteers should be available for a minimum of 2 months, although volunteers with specialist skills and experience can be accepted for 1 month.
Volunteers are assigned classes by the volunteer coordinator, typically working in one centre in the morning and one in the afternoon, working up to 6 hours a day. Ideally you will work with that class over the period of your placement, so you get to know their personalities and capabilities, and the curriculum you are working with.
The classes are typically made up of 6-10 students, from teenage girls to older women, taken seated on the floor of a room in one of the empowerment centres. So all very intimate and friendly.
Your class will be either a ‘beginner’, ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’ class in English and/or maths. There are local text books to use that relate to the national syllabus, but volunteers will also need to boost these classes with their own lesson plans that are prepared in advance. A white board and marker pen will be the tools of your trade, while the students are equipped with pencils, workbooks, and an eagerness to learn.
Workshops are on a wide range of topics and volunteers help prepare the content in these, or develop existing materials further. Workshops include a presentation on the topic, leading into some discussion or activity related to the topic, encouraging all the women and girls to participate.
Volunteers make a difference through their capacity, knowledge and a process of cultural exchange.
The Trust has a good team of local staff but not enough to service all the requirements of the centres. The local staff typically teach Hindi while the volunteers teach English and maths. With enough staff, classes can be divided by student ability, so providing an improved level of coaching. Without volunteers there would simply be less classes delivered.
Volunteers also bring a new perspective of the world to these women, whose own community would limit their horizons and self-esteem. The very nature of committed and energetic international volunteers turning up to teach, socialise and laugh with these women is a powerful lesson in its own right.
…for me Jodhpur will now always be a second home in my heart. I have made so many memories and connections here that I cannot erase. Even if there have been times where I wish things were run differently, or that the attitudes were different.Women’s Empowerment, India