It was a hot summer last year proving every inch of my passion for working as a “Counsellor” to those who need to be heard and seek knowledge in various aspects as they get little chance to express their feelings to the closed ones. Girl’s interruptions and disappointments prove her to be a stubborn and uncultured child before elders sometimes. But there was no point of judgment as the whole program was solely conducted for them.
“VOICE4Girls”, a social enterprise, aims to enable marginalized adolescent girls in India to prepare them for future by imparting critical knowledge, communication and English language basics, besides life skills through activity-based training camps. It is in collaboration with Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana (RGMVP). It provides them with the education about “being a girl” and various state of affairs related to a girl’s personality. VOICE4Girls organizes two camps namely VOICE Parichay and VOICE Disha. These camps are organized in various districts of Uttar Pradesh such as Varanasi, Raebareli, Amethi, Gorakhpur including some more.
I worked as an intern with VOICE4Girls last year for one month from June to July 2016. It was an energetic environment where a lot of young girls, full of enthusiasm, were ready to create a change in their lives. These girls were from RGMVP Young Self Help Groups (SHGs). Firstly, VOICE trains the counselors themselves to make them familiar with the rules and regulations of the camp and the topics to be taught to the young girls. After undergoing the counselor’s training for 1 week, VOICE alots different camp locations to the counselors as per their enrolment to the camp.
I was allotted the camp location as Gorakhpur in U.P. I landed there with another counselor from the camp and we were welcomed by the RGMVP Community Resource Development Centre (CRDC) staffs which were extremely happy about this initiative from VOICE. They negotiated with us about the students coming to the camp and also about various other camps to be organized at the CRDC from time to time by other counselors as well. The VOICE Parichay camp’s duration was 7 days each and we had two groups of students to be taught individually. Each day at camp was amazing and scheduled with a new chapter discussing various topics such as menstruation, the changes (physical, social, mental, behavioral) a girl undergoes, laws made for girls, violence, self-confidence and many. Instead of boring lectures, the classes were conducted with various activity-based teaching styles such as role-play, group discussions, dance, singing, demonstrations, communication skills and much more, which filled all of us with positive energy and we all beamed with exultation day by day. Girls were inquisitive, responsive in the class and wanted to know the details properly. We all shared a different story of our lives so there happened to be so many wonderful conversations with them after every class. Those became the memories to cherish all my life. With the kind support from CRDC staff and VOICE at times proved the camp a success for all of us. We noticed changes in girl’s behavior as they became more confident, overcame their stage fear, and removed their hesitation because of communication and conversations we all shared.
VOICE4Girls is doing an incredible task of empowering women on their best by conducting such a friendly environment to those who remain unaware of many facts and enables to uplift the girl’s lives. VOICE has defined three areas of focus for camps as critical knowledge, life skills, and spoken English. The vision of VOICE is that all girls will take charge of their futures, and work towards breaking harmful cycles of economic, social, and gender inequality in their communities. We congratulate VOICE4Girls for this marvelous share towards women empowerment.