This project provides financial assistance as well as mentoring to young girls enrolled for technical/professional courses. We select girls from low income groups who are doing well in school but may not be able to continue their education due to financial constraints and gender bias. A common thread running through the lives of such girls is the severe handicap of uneducated parents, grinding poverty and no role models for guidance.
We started with ten girls in 1993 which increased to about 30 some years back. At that time we also had some girls from the rural area who were mentored by an NGO “Astha No kai” sponsored by Japanese Soroptimists. Last year (2013) we were able to help only 16 girls due to paucity of funds.
The bright ones are guided through studies either to acquire a degree or do a vocational course which guarantees employment. We have many success stories. A lawyer who now teaches in Law College, Engineers in IT, Polytechnic graduates, Nursing Aides, Bachelors in Education,. Accountants. SI Poona takes pride in being part of a young girl’s effort to make Life meaningful for herself.
In 2008 we won the best practice Award at the SIGBI Conference in Barbados in the West Indies for this project.
Health- My Road to Happiness
Under this project, SI Poona conducts awareness programmes on anemia prevention for rural women. Haemoglobin testing is carried out for women and young girls. Pap smear test is also conducted in collaboration with FPA ( Family Planning Association of India). Medical checkups are done for school children.
Soroptimist International Club of Poona joined hands with the FPAI (Family Planning Association of India) to conduct a medical camp for children at a local government run school. A general medical check-up was conducted for about hundred children from Stds. 5-7 from the Sant Tukaram School at Baner, Pune. Blood tests were also done for determining their blood groups and Hb counts. Those children having low Hb were given medication and they will henceforth be monitored by their teachers on a regular basis.
A health awareness cum medical camp was conducted at Ambadvet, a small village on the outskirts of Pune, inhabited by a backward, mostly illiterate gypsy community With the help of FPAI (Family Planning Association of India), a session on personal hygiene and nutrition was conducted for the villagers. Also a health camp was conducted for the school children and adults. 29 children in the age group of 1 to 12 years and 13 adults were benefitted. Blood tests and HB counts showed anemia in a number of children who were given medication. SI Pune members also interacted with the women and advised them on health, hygiene and nutrition.
Medical cum Health Awareness camp 2017
Sangise School Support – Right to Education
A rural school project was started by SI Poona at SANGISE village 70 km from Pune, to support a local school. One of our members is a Trustee of the School. We annually donate stationery and books to this rural school in Sangise village that we support.
The Freudenstadt Club, one of our Link clubs, in the Black Forest area of Germany under the leadership of Dr Dorothy Schmalz adopted this school as their charter Project in 2006. They raised money to donate a school Bus to the school. Their support continues even now.
Space Support- Be my Launch Pad
SI Poona’s charter project was providing assistance to a spastics school. We continue to support ‘SPACE’ a day care centre for spastic adults with supplies and other requirements. ‘SPACE’ is a sheltered workshop for rehabilitation of Adult Spastics, (Cerebral Palsy) established by the parents of such affected adults at Pune. One of our past presidents is the founder trustee of ‘SPACE’.
Campaign against Domestic Violence
Lectures on Domestic Violence are conducted at various schools in Pune, especially for teenage boys, so that they learn to respect women. Young adolescent women are made aware of their self and shown how to handle domestic violence.
The club has taken part in tree plantation activities to help preserve the environment.World Environment Day is celebrated every year in June by organizing lectures on this subject and each member planting saplings in their own homes to support this activity.This activity comes under our national project ‘ Green Umbrella’.
Fistful of Grain
Initially SI Poona started the project with individual contributions from members. Grains and sugar were brought by members and the collection was donated to an old age home. Later cash collected from members was used to buy pulses and sugar and donated to an orphanage at Sangise village.
In 2017 SI Poona initiated a new beginning of the NASI Project “Fistful of Grain “ at the Kalmadi High School in Aundh Pune. A kick-off of the project was held on 3rd April 2017 at the school. About 90 school children from Classes 5th and 6th participated in this project.
Anu Wakhlu of SI Poona made a presentation to the students and explained the importance of the project on view of the fact that hunger and malnutrition is rampant among under privileged children.Cloth bags specially prepared for the project with a ‘Fistful of Grain’ written on it and the emblem of the Club were distributed to the children. The children were quite enthused with the project. The teachers of the school also expressed interest and also wanted to participate in the project. The grains collected were handed over to Sevagram, a rescue home cum orphanage.
The school has now taken an initiative to build social awareness program among students for the past two years.The have been collecting grains thrice a year and donating it to Chaitanya Mahila Mandal, a rehabilitation centre for commercial sex workers and Kamayani, a special school for the deaf and dumb. This program is now run by their student council and they are getting overwhelming response.
Girl child Safety Toolkit
A workshop for tribal girl children was conducted in Palghar district, of Maharashtra with the objectives of 1)protecting girl children from all kinds of violence and 2) involving all stakeholders in the empowerment and protection of girl children through appropriate and time bound trainings. The workshop was on goal setting and improving the study habits of these girls. The purpose was to make girls understand safety and empowerment issues, to involve them in their own protection, and devise strategies for ending violence against them that involves self defence, cyber safety, awareness building and advocacy. This was part of an ongoing project which will have trainings over a two year period for social workers, teachers, parents and girl children.
Covid-19 Lending a Hand
SI Pune members distributed foodgrains, lentils, oil, sugar, onions and other essentials in two slum localities in Pune. The recipients were mostly women, wives of daily wage construction workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the countrywide lockdown in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis.
SI Pune members also helped the onion farmers, who grow this crop widely in this region sell their produce. They have been unable to transport them to the city markets, due to the lockdown. Each recepient in the slum was given two kilograms of onions, directly bought from the farmers. SI members also purchased large quantities of onions for their friends and family and helped out by selling most of their produce.
After a week, a similar project of grain distribution was carried out in the red zone of Laxminagar, Yerwada at the other end of Pune, in collaboration with two private donors. Food items and other essentials to suffice for the next two months were handed over to sixty below poverty line and single women headed families Most of these families have lost their livelihood due to the lockdown.
Dr Naina Athalye member of SI Poona supervised the distribution and is planning the next distribution of essentials to this and other vulnerable communities next month.
HAPPY SOLUTIONS TO LIFE’S CHALLENGES : SUSTAINING MENTAL WELL-BEING IN THE COVID TIMES.
COVID 19 has brought in untold devastation in the form of anxiety, depression, suicides, increase in domestic violence and child abuse. These problems may escalate if mental health issues are not addressed on a war footing. Addressing mental health needs of individuals becomes challenging and therefore SI Poona decided to address this issue through webinars for teachers, social workers and young students. Agencies within India such as NIMHANS and globally, WHO have been reiterating the importance of safeguarding mental well being of different populations in the pandemic times.
The webinar, developed by SI Poona member, Dr Naina Athalye, ( a mental health specialist and consultant for development issues) elaborated the 3 fold (3R, E and 2A) model which discusses the three Rs of rehabilitation, restoration and rejuvenation leading to empowerment. The third aspect of the model is advocacy and achievement.
The webinar on 26th June 2020, was inaugurated by SI Poona President Mrs Kulsum Abid who welcomed the participants and Dr. Athalye, the speaker.
Rehabilitation restoration and rejuvenation are essential to usher a sense of well being during the difficult and complex COVID times. The need for physical and mental immunity and its relationship with stress management and stress elimination was shared.
In all 148 participants(60 teachers, 80 college students, 48 social workers and health care workers) attended the webinar. 50 more are expected for the next webinar slated for the month of July 2020. Most participants shared their feedback and expressed their satisfaction with the knowledge and practical skills gained through the webinar on mental well-being. There was a request for sharing good practices and success stories in future webinars.
We organized Dental Camps for slum children. Immunization of children of Mobile Creches was also undertaken.
For some years we conducted Career Counselling in reputed schools like St Mary’s and St Helena’s in Pune .
Vocational Training was conducted in the two villages of Kondwa and Ghorpuri in Pune District.
We have donated books for children of rag pickers who are under the shelter of an NGO for several years.