Meena, 36 Year Old
Meena* from Kolkata has been associated with AAWC for the past eight years and has been an active participant in all awareness/empowerment activities, availing support by way of ration, toiletries, counselling and making documents. Unfortunately, due to the lockdown, Meena’s income source failed her and survival got very difficult as she didn’t have money for any of her essential needs. Her only relief was her ration which was provided by AAWC. When she confessed her difficulties to our outreach workers, they encouraged Meena to brainstorm other ways of earning money. When she expressed an interest in starting her own vegetable business, the ORWs encouraged her to start the venture. In just a few days, she started selling vegetables and was happy that she was earning money. She had support from the police to sell in the area. The ORWs have seen that Meena is able to take care of her finances and deal with customers confidently, she has been able to meet her expenses.
Rekha* has been associated with AAWC since the past 10 years but throughout her association she did not value or respect the outreach workers. She was more interested in the things she would get from the organization. However, a vast difference has been noticed in her behavior post the pandemic when she saw the relentless commitment and effort the team made during the pandemic. She saw how they met the needs and requirements of the women by making provisions available and has started valuing the presence of the outreach team in the area. Rekha has started actively participating in the activities and volunteers to come forward and help the team with the set up and distribution in the area.
Priti, 8 Years Old
Priti*, has been associated with AAWC since the past four years. During the pandemic she was stuck with her mother in a small dilapidated room in the red-light area during which her health deteriorated immensely. As Priti lost her appetite and hesitated to eat, her education was also at stake. Due to inconsistent engagement in online classes organized by the school, lack of guidance in studies at home and an environment non-conducive to attention on academic or creative development, she acquired some unhealthy habits. She stopped following a schedule and started talking insensitively at times or showing undisciplined behavior. The environment was showing its impact on our young beneficiary. Aware of the loss of interest in academics and health and its potential to aggravate, our staff members collectively took a call to admit the child back to the center. We tested her for COVID-19 and on receiving the negative report, admitted her to the center where staff members worked extensively on an individual basis to make her feel comfortable. She had a one-on-one counseling session and was also involved in group sessions to reacquire healthier habits including following a routine. With adequate and timely nutrition, she regained her focus and began working towards adopting all the habits and routine that she had learned before the lockdown period. She started showing improvements and became actively responsive in her online classes resulting in excellent scores in her online exams. The nourishment and a conducive environment at AAWC help the beneficiary to remain healthy, active and happy!
Sarina, 12 Years Old
12-year-old Sarina* came across as a shy and gullible girl when she was first admitted into the day and night care shelter of AAWC in 2019. Hailing from a distant town in Kashmir, it took a while for her to get comfortable in the new environment. She did not have a strong background of education and the little education she had received was in Urdu medium. It took tremendous efforts from the teachers as well as Sarina to get acquainted with reading and writing in Hindi.A chief concern was that Sarina was not very vocal and had inhibitions in communicating and expressing herself which led her to be easily manipulated by other people. Her mother often complained that Sarina would be convinced to meet any didi’s demand of getting tobacco or other intoxicants and unhealthy items from a shop near the brothel. It took a lot of effort on her mother’s part to make Sarina understand that she should refuse such requests. When this was brought into the notice of the staff members at AAWC, they counselled her to be firm and say no to such requests. This message was reiterated with an explanation on how it put her at risk to be so approachable in a high-risk area. The counselling was oriented to instill the idea of being firm against things that she feels are inappropriate. After some time, Sarina went back to reside with her mother in the red-light area for Diwali vacations. Once she was back at the center, Sarina revealed that she refused the requests of women from the neighborhood saying a firm ‘No’ when they asked her to buy things from the nearby shops or stalls. Her mother confirmed the same. Such changes are stepping stones in the healthy psychological development of the child. Her determination to grow is reflected in her behavior.
Shama * was a young girl identified in 2018 by a vigilant outreach worker. She was found in a very busy brothel on a red-light of Kamathipura. Her enrollment at the day and night shelter of AAWC was processed without any delay. Initially shy and hesitant, she soon grew to be more active and mingled with the other girls participating in various activities at kindergarten. Completing the Kindergarten curriculum at AAWC, which focused on development of gross and fine motor skills and cognitive development, she was soon enrolled in an English medium school. Staff members at AAWC worked with Shama through group sessions to help her improve her academics and to enable her to be emotionally expressive. She is now an active participant in her school activities and has developed a keen interest in craft over the span of her stay. Shama’s mother is no longer worried about her daughter’s future.
Priti, aged 8
4 – year-old Rima* could not even hold a spoon when she was first enrolled in the Udaan program, due to her health condition. Annoyed by her cranky behavior, her mother used to hit her which made the Rima replicate a similar behavior at the AAWC center. Upon understanding the issue, the girl was facing, the teachers focused on improving the health by providing timely nutritious meals. They also counselled the mother and Rima soon started showing an improvement in health and also demonstrated a controlled behavior. The girl now participates in all the activities and is one of the sincerest in the center.