23 July 2013

Green Tara

Sangam has a number of community partners in Pune. One of these is Green Tara, which works to empower women and reduce violence against woman.
Green Tara was founded by a doctor who herself rose from being a lower caste orphan in the slums. As a doctor, she saw the need to educate women about their bodies, health and to empower them to stand up for themselves. However, she quickly realized, that this had to start when they were girls.

Green Tara operates through the schools and community centers in the slums. They offer courses such as sewing, and computer skills; they teach the women how to open and manage a bank account; they teach about health, pregnancy and nutrition. They do activities with the girls to improve their confidence and sense of self-worth. They take the girls to the police station so that they will learn that the cops can help them if they are being abused or if later in life they have a husband who beats them. They teach the girls to cook nutritious, inexpensive meals so that they and their family can be better nourished. The organization is tireless in its efforts to better the lives of the poorest girls in India.

A group of three Guiders from the UK were at Sangam and had arranged to spend sometime with Green Tara at the Indira Negar. I was invited to go with them and it was the most fulfilling experience I have had in such a long time.

We started out with only 6 girls in attendance, but word quickly spread and soon we had more than thirty. The Guiders from England, had brought a craft to share. The craft was making a bracelet using buttons and elastic thread. The girls really enjoyed making the bracelets and showing off their completed creations. Then we just spent some time bonding with the girls. I had a group of girls around me, at first they were asking me questions. They wanted to know my age and were shocked that I was not married. They wanted to know about my family and job. I asked them about their ages (11-19), school and more. Then they decided it would be fun to teach me some phrases in Marathi, the local dialect. We all laughed as I tried to repeat the phrases. They taught me to say "I love you, I love India, my name is Laura" and we worked on counting from 1-10. It was fun, but it's clear that I have a LOOOONG way to go to speak it with any accuracy. While I was learning the language, some of the girls took my camera to take photos and videos of it!

Then we lead the group in some fun songs: Head-Shoulders-Knees and Toes, Boom Chicka Boom, Hokey Kooky and the Grand Old Duke of York.
The time we spent with the group went by so quickly. As the girls were leaving, lots if them wanted to take photos with us and gave us hugs and told us they missed us. Walking through the slums back to the main road, girls introduced us to their Grandmas, brothers and more. It was such a great opportunity to work with the girls through Green Tara. I really want to go back and do more!

If you would like to support Green Tara's efforts to empower women and better the lives of girls in the slums, you can learn more from their Facebook page

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Pune, India

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