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22. September 2006

WwB Smart banner ©Archana Kapoor

english classes India © Archana Kapoor

Women in Venpurusam attending english classes.

children © Archana Kapoor

India - "We are gonna win..."

Jaypal, 16, just cannot stop smiling. Sporting a new uniform, shoes and socks, leg guards and a light cricket bat, he is convinced that his team will win the tournament.

 "Many people, NGOs, government officials and others have visited our villages ever since the Tsunami devastated our lives, but it is only Women without Borders / SMART that has tried to show patience in trying to understand what we need".

The WwB-SMART sponsorship of the inter village tournament of cricket -- the favorite game of  Indians -- stems from its belief that sports not only empower but also help in overcoming traumas caused by natural calamities.

"We cannot express our gratitude to you. Today we are the best turned out team. It has increased our self esteem and our desire to win." says Sachin from Venpurusham.

Through the sponsorship of this tournament in which 20 odd villages are participating, WwB - SMART kicked off their second phase of the
program: "Connecting Women and Children for Hope" in the Tsunami affected villages Venpurusham and Kokilimedu in the Kancheepuram District. This innovative sponsorship of this popular game has helped us in winning the trust and confidence of the Tsunami devastated community of Tamil Nadu. It has also helped in lowering the resistance of these patriarchal communities to WwB - SMART's effort to work closely with women in leadership programmes.

In the first months of the project we worked closely with the women of these two villages and imparted to them skills ranging from driving, book keeping and training in self defence. We also provided nets and livelihood training skills. This first phase looked into rebuilding of livelihood options for the women.

The focus of the second phase is to make the community a stakeholder in the process of change. Experience of post - Tsunami rehabilitation shows that unplanned relief backed by unsolicited funds was harming the community by making them totally dependent on aid. The community had begun to look upto the NGOs and officials for every little thing.

This project  works towards building leadership amongst women, providing for an  education program for the children, enrollment of girls in schools, providing effective communication skills to prepare them for employment in emerging sectors like hospitality, health, education, IT and construction. Through these and the other activities we provide a platform and possibilities for change and rehabilitation.

"I always knew that I have certain rights, but I never had the confidence to defy my husband. I hope that after the trainings I will have more self-awareness and I be able to handle my problems better." (Bhuvaneswari)

Women without Borders together with the project partner Archana Kapoor/SMART  is working towards the involvement of all sections of society in its efforts towards transforming women into leaders, decision makers and equal partners in the process of development.  We are also working towards changing the mindset of the men, especially the young, to give women their rightful place in the days to come.

"I thought that I know myself...but now, through the workshops and trainings I realize that I never understood my own potential. Today I feel more empowered as well as more confident." (Kangadevi)


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