Menstruation is one of the oldest and most far-reaching taboos. Especially in India and across South Asia, the reluctance to speak about periods is widespread, resulting in worryingly low education and awareness – particularly among the demographic of adolescent girls, of whom India has some 120 million. A recent study for Menstrual Hygiene Day reported that 1 out of 3 school girls across South Asia was not aware of periods before experiencing one for the first time, and only 2.5% of the same group knew that menstrual blood came from the uterus.  If menstrual hygiene is not given importance,  it will raise the risk of reproductive infections and affect the health of millions of girls who are unaware of the stark consequences.

Therefore, to realize the importance of Menstrual education , series of phase wise menstrual modules were undertaken at Protsahan to impart the necessary knowledge about Menstruation. Also, initiating interactive discussions helped to bust the myths and taboos related to Menstruation and thereby broadened the knowledge of girls.

Phase 1:  KOMAL – A film on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) – Hindi  by CHILDLINE India Foundation,(NGO) in India that operates a telephone helpline called Childline, for children in distress was shown to the girls by sharing real life stories. It explains the concept of safe and unsafe touch, so that they can be better equipped to protect themselves and take help from trusted adults if ever caught in a similar situation. An open and safe space was provided to discuss the magnitude of the problem and conceptualize suitable solutions.  It was imperative to address the issue by using the visual media to clearly convey the message and build understandability.

Phase 2:  Using the Hello Periods! (Hindi) – Menstrupedia Menstrual Awareness Workshop Video , an open source by Menstrupedia to spread the knowledge of periods.

In order to break the silence and the stigma attached to this forbidden word, a session as a part of  ‘Project Light Bulb’ instituted by Protsahan India Foundation was conducted by Sakshi, an expert volunteer and our fabulous grassroot teacher Payal.  Using technology and storytelling as a learning tool, the topic was discussed with the help of Menstrupedia Hindi YouTube Tutorial Video and Menstrupedia Comic which is a colorful, fun and accessible guide to menstruation, following the journey of three young girls and their experiences with periods. Each character represents a stage of adolescence — girls who haven’t started their period yet and want to learn more about them; girls who have just started their period and want advice on how to prepare for them; and girls who have had periods for some time and might be curious about the myths surrounding them.

 

 

The session was started with an introduction about the topic and was followed by a quiz round where in girls were asked to pick a chit from a bunch of chits with questions related to the lessons taught. This not only helped them to recall what was learnt but also gave us a scope to resolve their doubts and queries. Stories were shared between one another and basic hygiene practices were discussed to make the girls  proactive and self aware about their body and health. It guided them to understand the importance of taking good care of their body by inculcating  healthy habits in their daily lives to remain happy, healthy and safe. The session was a source of enlightenment for the girls  as it instilled the confidence in them for the acceptance of natural body functions, and the need for cleanliness so that their school and social lives are never interrupted. The session ended with a happy note and a sense of empowerment was reflected through their faces.

Phase 3: Collaboration with Shades of Happiness Foundation to broaden the knowledge of Menstruation.

In order to develop an in depth understanding related to Menstruation, a session was held at Protshan by expert volunteers Garima and Noopur to broaden the knowledge and understandability of the female reproductive system. The workshop started with introductions and then the students were shown a video ‘Hello Periods’ by Menstrupedia again to engage with the students and resolve their queries. The video was paused after every topic for simultaneous discussion.

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Revising the topics learned.

 

The bunch of girls were really responsive and eager to get more knowledge. They were able to name all the three openings of vagina. One of the attendees who had attended the session earlier on the same topic had doubt about how to wash private parts. Girls didn’t have much knowledge about how to remove pubic hair but showed interest in knowing about the methods being taught by the volunteers. All of them were vocal on many topics like how to dispose sanitary pads and one should wash hands after throwing. The use of tissue paper for discharge color change seemed to be a new topic for them.

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Garima explaining female anatomy.

Without any hesitation they asked questions which they felt was unanswered or they felt shy about whom should they ask. They were able to answer the questions clearly put up by us even though they were familiar to the Menstrupedia video.

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Mentors and Mentees. 🙂

“Sharam” and “Haya” are still words used to condemn conversations about menstruation. Thus, we certainly believe that there is an urgent need to bring conversations about menstruation with all its associated silence, stigma and myths out in the open. It is especially important to break the silence on this topic, so that millions of young girls every year don’t see their period as a disability, but a natural, normal part of their lives.

We, women, are the bringers of new life into the world, and our periods are a part of that process. Together we will dismantle taboos around menstruation, to free women from the society’s cultural confinement.

Menstruation matters to education, to boys and men, health, progress, to all areas of life and most importantly, YOU matter to menstruation: yes – that’s right, you. Whether you get your period or not, you can play an important role in breaking the silence around menstruation. Strike up a conversation, share a story, ask a question or simply just put it out there – Menstruation Matters!

 

Co-authored by Sakshi Sharma and Noopur Lakra.

 

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unnamed (1)“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. “

– Malala Yousafzai

Our voices are our most powerful weapon. They not only are a source of inspiration but reveal our emotions and depict a story unheard.  With this notion, BBC Radio India graciously joined us on our journey to hear stories of  PROTSAHAN  girls about their life , passion , hopes and dreams.  Girls were having their moment in the spotlight for their voices would be heard across the globe.  A spark in their eyes and assertive voice reflected their confidence with a keenness to speak and share their journey .

It was started with an introduction involving their age,grade, dreams, aspiration  and the excitement reached it’s peak when asked about their life at PROTSAHAN. They remarked Protsahan as their family and an integral part of their life. “मैं कुछ दिनों के लिए प्रोत्साहन नही गयी | जब मैं वापिस आयी मुझे ऐसा लग रहा था जैसे मेरे शरीर का हिस्सा घुम्म  गया  हो | मुझे बहोत याद आयी प्रोत्साहन की |

“I was on a leave for few days, I couldn’t wait to go back to PROTSAHAN , it felt like a part of me was missing.” says Mala,16,  an aspiring lawyer with a fervent personality. Our surrounding shapes our thought process which moulds our personality. Being in a home-like space which promotes  creativity, enriches one’s personality , which in turn , boosts their self-confidence and love for the uniqueness they are blessed with.

Girls were elated to share their experiences . “मुझे चित्रकला बहोत पसंद है | मैं हमेशा चित्रकला प्रतियोगिता में हिस्सा लेती हु | मुझे कुछ अलग सीखने को मिलता है और मैं बेहतर बनती हु | मैं भविष्य में चित्रकला की अध्यापिका बनना चाहती हु जिससे मैं लोगो को इस कला का महत्व सिक्ख पाऊँ |   “ I love to draw and paint. I participate in all the art competitions and each experience has helped me  to grow and become better. Therefore, I wish to become an art teacher to share my skills and talent.” Says Nandini, 11 ,  a believer and dreamer.

Dance, an art form is the hidden language of the soul of the body. A dance teacher helps their student find the song in their heart, the beat in their feet and a passion for life.

Name withheld to respect and honor the child’s dignity , when she was  10 years old was thrust into the world of adults; her parents had decided it was time for her to get married like most of the girls of their village.

“पढ़ी  लिखी  लड़की  अपना  हक़ मांगती  है  और  गलत  या सही  का  फैसला  क्र  सकती  है | हमारे  गांव  में  वो  लड़कियों  को  कुचलना चाहते है और आगे बढ़ने नही देते |  मुझे  ये  गलत  लगा , मैं  पढ़ना  चाहती थी और  अपनी  मंज़िल  को  पाने  के  लिए  मैंने  परिवार  से  बात  करि , बहोत  मुश्किल  था  मेरे  लिए  पर  मैंने अपना  हक़  माँगा और  रोक  दिया | मैं बहोत  खुश  हु  की  मैंने तब हिम्मत  रखी | मुझे  डांसर  बनना  है पर  मेरे  परिवार उसे  सपोर्ट  नही  करता |  इसलिए  मैं पहले पढ़ना  चाहती  हु और फिर मैं अपने सपनो को पूरा करूँगी |”

“They believed that an educated  woman is  strong and will demand  her rights .  With a patriarchal mind-set, they wanted  girls to be trampled under the feet of men . Now , 16 , she put her foot down and refused to become another child bride in a state where marriage of minors is a socially accepted tradition. It was a bold move by a young girl in a highly patriarchal society but it not only changed her life, it made her empowered. She wishes to become a dancer by proving her potential in studies to her un supportive parents .

Quiet the mind and the soul will speak. The mind is everything. What you think you become.

” मैं पहले बहुत  शांत थी | पर जब मैं प्रोत्साहन में आयी, मेरे दोस्तों और अध्यापिकाओ ने मुझे प्रोत्साहन दिया बोलने के लिए और हर प्रतयोगिता में शामिल किया| अब तो  मेरा बोलना बंद ही  नही होता | मैडिटेशन ने मेरे बर्ताव को शांत किया और मेरा आत्मविश्वास बढ़ाया | अब मैं रोज़ मेडिएशन करती हु और खुश रहती हु |”

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Manisha,sharing her journey at Protsahan 🙂 

Manisha, 16 , was shy but after joining PROTSAHAN , her friends and teachers always encourage her to speak  . Now, she has become articulate , self confident about her abilities and capabilities. She believes, meditation has been a driving force for her developed personality.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, the conversation with the girls was a symbol of freedom ,a source of inspiration to other millions of girls in different parts of the country  who are devoid of their rights and freedom.

We all possess a gift, a gift to share , to change the world but most importantly to be happy with what we have. A nudge is needed to unleash the hidden gift embedded in us. True power is the power to empower.

The seeds of hope have been sown , the girls at PROTSAHAN  are the torch bearers to spread the  enlightenment.

Come, join us in our journey by volunteering , donating , sharing a skill and contributing in a way that impacts the community positively because a change starts with you.

 


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Next time, you are looking for handmade cloth pouches, soft toys, candles, diyas, souveniors to gift your loved ones, will you remember us? Every pouch made by a Protsahan woman and a young adolescent girl, symbolises Empathy, Creativity & Sustainability & Entrepreneurship; the 3 core values of Protsahan.

We’d love to handcraft some love for you!

Here are some of the products with their price ranges. (Delivery: Within India only)

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Pouches/ Sling Bags : Price /Unit: INR 120 – INR 250

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Handpainted Candles: Price /Unit: INR 150- INR 260

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Corporate/Event Souvenirs : : Price /Unit: INR 250 & above.

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Papier Mache Products : : Price /Unit: INR 300 & above.

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Madhubani/Warli/Traditional Greeting Cards from Children’s Artworks: INR 25 + : Price /Unit

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Handcrafted Notebooks: : Price /Unit: INR 150 +

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Wall hangings/ charms : : Price /Unit: INR 80 +

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Madhubani/ Warli Artwork crafted in Protsahan Art classes: : Price /Unit: INR 400 +

The products we sell provide us with a means to ensure the sustainability of our projects and initiatives for children. The sale of artwork made by our children in art classes also gives to them a sense of dignity in their work alongside helping us to give them solid education until class 12. They start to understand that things they can create have value and that their own abilities have a worth. Our items can be used for corporate gifting, bazaars and other events. A little gesture from you will go a long way in ensuring sustainability for our work for little girls and their mothers.

Please contact us at 9540781011 (from 10 AM to 7 PM) or info.protsahan@gmail.com for bulk order placement of our handcrafted products!

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In the photo: Divya Mathias, Symbiosis University, teaching English to Ritu, Protsahan student.

” Protsahan: Because Art transforms wounds into hope.”

When I first saw this on the Protsahan Webpage I was intrigued and wondered was it really possible. My first day at Protsahan the girls were taking a photography class, they were going to capture a drop and ripple of water. I saw the class take place and that’s when I realized the meaning of that sentence. Their smiles and enthusiasm was full of hope and wonder. After class I spoke to girls and asked them why exactly did they want to learn the Art of Photography and one of the girls, Soni age 15 told me, “Photography karne se mujhe khushi milti hai…main apne photgraphy ke zariye jo chupe hue jurm hai unhe bahar nikaal na chahti hoon.” (Photography makes me happy…Through my photography I want to bring out crimes that are hidden.) This struck me, now I understood how even after being brought down in life these girls through art, rise with hope.

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During my first week at Protsahan one of mentors casually told me, “I think you are emotional, you aren’t emotionally strong.” At that time I didn’t really understand what she meant but after spending nearly 6 weeks with the girls I realized; Yes, I am not emotionally strong, these girls are, they have the courage to stand up against their family, the world’s soci1-DSC02734al norms and demand and receive what is truly their right.

I started working here thinking that this was going to be like any other internship. I am going to work here for a month and a half, learn something professionally and leave. But today as I write this, I realize that no matter what I’m always going to be thinking about these girls and where they have reached in life. Working here I realized that no matter what life throws at you, you always have the strength to face it. I learnt this, from these rockstar girls who come in day after day with a bright smile on their faces and hope in their eyes. My mentor Sonal taught me that there is so much more to life than a 9-5 job in life. That it was important to stand up for what is right in life and not care about the aftermath. That living in the present and making one’s life count for someone who probably can never pay back, is what life should comprise.

I started of slowly, first working with just capturing moments of the girls making memories then decided that there is so much more I can do here, so I started taking classes for the girls whenever they were free. In these classes we read newpapers, discussed current affairs, searched new words, played hangman and learnt grammar. I think I was my happiest when the girls came to me and asked me when am I going to take their next class and that they couldn’t wait for it. For the first time in a very long time I felt a sense of accomplishment. I was then assigned to teach a girl English. At first I was a bit apprehensive as I wasn’t sure how I would begin and  I didn’t want to let my Mentor down but as I began teaching her I thought to myself that I’m going to give it my best. I might not have enough time to make her perfect but I’m going to do as much as I can. The tiny tots at Protsahan taught me that no matter how bad my day would I should never forget to smile. Meditation sessions here taught me that it’s very important to just take out 10 minutes from our daily life and introspect.

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Today nearly at the end of my Internship I realize that there is so much to life than I had previously known. Things might be difficult but there is always a way out only if we beleive. For me working at Protsahan was something that changed a part of me forever.

Author:

Divya Mathias, Symbiosis, Pune (SCMC)

Protsahan 2015 Changemaker Intern

 


We have been able to crowd source 4 cameras for our children through Twitter and Facebook. Need another 16. Will you help us make this possible? 

 Protsahan's Anju and Sony, going click click in the Delhi rains! :-) Donate your cameras (DSLRs or simple point and shoots, or other second hand devices in good working condition that'll help our girls to express themselves and learn through words and clicks)

Protsahan’s Anju and Sony, going click click in the Delhi rains! 🙂 Donate your cameras (DSLRs or simple point and shoots, or other second hand devices in good working condition that’ll help our girls to express themselves and learn through words and clicks)

Learning with a lovely volunteer from Russia at Protsahan school, Katia Peshakova! Learning light, frames, compositions and more. Soon they'll be shooting their own little project with her :-) They are so excited!

Learning with a lovely volunteer from Russia at Protsahan school, Katia Peshakova! Learning light, frames, compositions and more. Soon they’ll be shooting their own little project with her 🙂 They are so excited!

Here is Anu from our first set of volunteers way back in 2011 who had instilled the seeds of photography with Tanushree. There has been no looking back since for our little angels. Today, the girls have grown tall in confidence and heights :) :) and are learning from inspiring photographers from Russia!

Here is Anu from our first set of volunteers way back in 2011 who had instilled the seeds of photography with Tanushree. There has been no looking back since for our little angels. Today, the girls have grown tall in confidence and heights 🙂 🙂 and are learning from inspiring photographers from Russia!


“To be yourself in a world always trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”.

How Art dances at Protsahan! :-)

How Art dances at Protsahan! 🙂

ART HEALS. PROTSAHAN TAUGHT ME HOW.

There is another life waiting for you ‘as you step out of the comfort zone’. I had always heard but never experienced, highly grateful to Protsahan for giving me an undoubtedly remarkable and a truly memorable experience of my life. We live in a world where the ‘hackneyed irony’ is, girls since their birth are supposed to be emotional, beautiful, loving and innocent. The moment they are grownup these qualities become blemishes and women become ‘weak’. Protsahan binds what is bruised in them, filling them with undue care and love mandatory for their upbringing. This week I was emotionally and mentally more aware of their situations and lives. They carry hidden worries behind the heart melting smiles and too many dreams in the mind. Fatima ‘the aspiring beautician’ has three more siblings in her house, she balances her household chores and her studies with all possible efforts, also leads her peer group i.e. four more girls are being trained by her, under beauty and hair care. I was amazed to see her knowledge and humble approach of teaching her mates. I assisted her by teaching a new braid style, Anju (another trainee) went swanking it all around.

Beauty Training & Grooming Classes at Protsahan.

Beauty Training & Grooming Classes at Protsahan 🙂

Sessions where girls are taught to be micro-entrepreneurs. The seed funding for this project was given by UNWomen & MasterCard where Protsahan won it out of 596 global organizations!! They have done splendid progress under this project. The girls are learning beautifully I see each day!

Sessions where girls are taught to be micro-entrepreneurs. The seed funding for this project was given by UNWomen & MasterCard where Protsahan won it out of 596 global organizations!! They have done splendid progress under this project. The girls are learning beautifully I see each day!

There is not a single frown on their face, they are confident and firm of what they are seeking. Their glittering eyes watch the world around them, with every new situation and perplexity they are growing stronger and sharper. As I got to know them better I then realized how a child learns what she lives. If a child lives with hostility, she learns to fight; if a child lives with tolerance, she learns to be patient; if a child lives with encouragement, she learns confidence; if a child lives with security, she learns to have faith and if a child lives with acceptance, she learns to love herself. Truly said ! Girls at protsahan were never to me ‘just students’ their affability and naivety made a soft corner in my heart for my new little girlfriends. Soni has taught me to be courageous, Manya has taught me to stay happy incessantly, Mala taught composure, Fatima taught how to stay determined, Kiran’s bag was full of unflagging positive vibes, Ms. Sonal the founder of this utmost amazing venture taught me the art of tolerance whereas Jony the co coordinator of the center has taught me to unceasingly put in efforts and results will always be fruitful. They assuaged my problems and extracted what was missing in my life ‘the ability to stay happy despite of a hundred problems’.   Before leaving Manisha the youngest member of Protsahan family danced as I sang a farewell song, Priyanka held my hand and jingled with me on ‘ring-a ring-a roses’. Soni and Manya lovingly escorted me to the auto saying “5 minutes aur aapke saath ma’am”. These girls are so affectionate and pristine that being with them, teaching them, helping them and being close to them is a perennial joy. One of the most amazing part of being here is constant updates on social media about what’s abuzz inside of Protsahan classrooms. be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a young person can actually stay connected and come forward and offer to help through contributing their time and services even in the little most manner!

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Making Protsahan memories.

I would share a poem that relates to each and every little girl here :

“She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the Universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings.”

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Happy faces and celebrations. @ngoprotsahan

I, Chahal Vaid, being an intern of PROTSAHAN have earned a lifetime experience of working with the most delightful team and lovely girls. My summer 2015’s baggage is full of memories and lessons learned. Thank You Protsahan and Ms. Sonal Kapoor for letting me become a part of your family. I am and will always want to be a part of this noble initiative @protsahan.

Chahal Vaid

PIF Intern 2015-2016


An educated girl has direction, she has hope. She will become a mentor to other girls, she will CHANGE THE WORLD.

My second week of internship at Protsahan Delhi opened varied doors and issues. Among the hustle bustle of the city and the cobwebs of our society we fail to realize what ‘the real problems’ are.

Spending these many days with the girls I was able to begin tracing the path from where they emerged as little warrior girls. From infants to adolescents, all the girls have one thing in common ‘they never quit’, they have learnt to condemn the criticism. Past 5 years Protsahan has been trying and mending lives of these little girls. Some have had a tough journey and some are still too young to absorb their surrounding restrictions.

Crafted pretty flowers from egg crates

Crafted pretty flowers from egg crates

Talking of the stories and struggles, the other day I entered Protsahan I was taking a session with the senior most girls, I saw Soni and Anju conversing in hindi and told them to try and converse properly in English, they did it very well, further I told them to be in a regular practice of speaking in English, but suddenly Soni popped up with a query “madam ji koi fayeda ni hai hmare ghar par bhai sunata hai, koi English bolne ni deta” with this statement she went back juggling with her notebook and cramming new words. I wasn’t amazed because I knew half of them come from a family trying to suppress their desires. What astounded me was the carefree way Soni came to me. This little anecdote evinces the change brought in these girls, today Soni is not scared to live up to her dreams, inspite of the unsupportive attitude of her family Soni is preparing for her 10th class from open school. She comes to me every time  with new sentences framed and gets them rechecked. I say that’s the spirit, a girl who never was given a chance to step out of her canonical household can beat you when it comes to crafts, compete in academics and completely bewilder you with her dance. Yes she is a true combatant, everyday she studies in the guidance of her teacher Ms. Preeti who has been helping her strive hard, Soni has evolved as a girl transforming to a woman ‘a warrior woman’.

And we all love Soni <3

And we all love Soni ❤

On taking a session with the midgets I recognized that they live in their own little world, they have their own little fact dictionary and their glittering eyes will pull you in their’ make belief world.’ When I taught them the kinder rhyme ‘twinkle twinkle little star’, some exclaimed to have seen two moons in the sky and some had caught stars falling from the sky. The rhyme was skylarks making them all sway with their hands up high. It gave me immense pleasure to see the petite cubicle lighting up with their chirping. Anjali ‘the one spruced with the coy smile’ bought me a beautiful flower and made sure I take it home with myself, these days at PROTSAHAN had been a frolicking experience and surely will continue to be one.

The petite duo learning the first few words.

The petite duo learning the first few words.

I brim with pride when I see them striving hard towards their goals. There are times when I see a few of them being escorted to their school by their mothers ; it is a true pride that they are supportive! Nobody has the right to hamper their education and their dreams, education and welfare for all is a mandatory aspect, despite of a hundred efforts there are many such typical orthodox families hindering their child’s education. What I loved about the way of teaching at #protsahan is that every child is being nourished under guidance of women teachers which is preferred by their families, educated free of cost, overall development from the root level, imbibing creative arts as a medium to penetrate deep in their minds Protsahan takes care of every little thing because they believe in giving childhood care when it is needed the most, it enhances their self esteem.

‘Education acts as a vaccine to violence’

Life at Protsahan I see-  Everyday a new name adds to the clan, everyday a new story comes up, everyday a new pair of glistening eyes, an innocent smile at protsahan’s doorstep knock. I have heard ‘little girls with big dreams become women with vision’. And with this I end my post waiting for every such little girl bound by prejudgments terminating their plans to be set free to dream and play.

a little cheese moment after teaching them 'origami rabbit making' and a moral story. :)

a little cheese moment after teaching them ‘origami rabbit making’ and a moral story. 🙂

Mala, Kiran, Meenu and Fatima spreading smiles.

Mala, Kiran, Meenu and Fatima spreading smiles, love from Protsahan 😀

Chahal Vaid

Intern 2015- 2016


Travelling through the tapered roads of Hastsal, on reaching my destination I was stupefied on being received by the doting smiles of the little angels of Protsahan.  Truly said “The soul can be healed by being with children.” They rekindled me with a lot more joy and hope than I expected, exactly then did my first experience of interning kick start!

I Chahal Vaid started with my internship at PROTSAHAN.

Protsahan is not a work place, not just an organization but a ‘Family’ of numerous girls who endeavor to turn all their can’ts into can’s and dreams into plans. The first week at Protsahan with the little ones was so overwhelming as it brought out the best in me. At 20 I wander aimlessly, looking at these aspiring girls was a blessing to my soul. As I entered the girls clustered around me giving me heartfelt hugs, warm greetings and ecstatic smiles.

Delightful smiles, and bubbling spirits of the toddlers

                                             Delightful smiles, and bubbling spirits of the toddlers at Protsahan.

The first day I came to Protsahan on meeting the mastermind behind this beautiful life skills home for little at risk girls: Ms. Sonal and her prodigies all geared up to meet their new ma’am, I was elated how much do they rely and urge to acquire from a stranger too. Their guileless smiles entrapped me and their magnificent crafting left me awe struck. The plethora of best out of waste items, quilling cards, anonymous painting styles and innovative designs stunned me and I knew from their faces they are willing to abstract maximum knowledge from me.

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I started with my Lilliputians, as I am beginning to call these gems of a heart. I could sense their innocence with their tight grips on my hand. Little Meenu being my very first favourite I already felt attached to her. Every day she welcomes me with an electrifying smile pulling me in her class. The commencing session on identifying TIME was a playful one with six year old Ayesha always bubbling with questions, mischievous Neetu struggling to be veiled by her notebook and the pocket sized trio Kinjal, Manisha and Gauri giggling and distracting everyone with their cuteness. I was helped by their teachers who were constant support to me throughout. The best time to catch up and mingle with the girls was the lunch break. Lunch time opened a new face of #Protsahan in front of me the one where all sit together and start only when all are present, religiously share their lunch and all have enough to eat.

Virtue of sharing and giving.

                                                                        Virtue of sharing and giving.

Throughout my way back home I stayed in their spell and recollected each and every happening of the day. The next day I reached Protsahan there was a girl named Suman – a talented girl and an expert in sewing, she accidentally sewed her finger in the machine. Everybody was aiding to cheer her up, I escorted her to the neighborhood doctor, and discovered she was one of those who couldn’t speak and was traumatized by her mother who was in a habit of beating her, before I drowned in my empathizing emotions she gave me a laudable smile that changed my outlook towards life. She bears a lot of strength and sets an example for the handicaps who by their sixth sense overcome their disabilities.

That whole day I took a session with the senior most batch, saw them grooving on the song prepared by their theater instructor Jony. My face brightened up seeing their unblemished smiles. I started with basic introduction regime trying to know them better, and came across my new best mates. Kiran – a human spring always the first to answer with her vernacular tone saying “I know that” , Fatima – the perfect English spell checker of the class, and my three musketeers Soni, Sonam and Anju leaving no leaf unturned to give the class a laugh riot. Mala ‘the aspiring lawyer’ of Protsahan summed up a lot of courage and by the end of the session came out of her shell and confidently conveyed her emotions. The iron eyed Soni is avid to learn and teach, she is always on my periphery with a doubt or a new idea. Before dispersing I made them sing a stanza of WE SHALL OVERCOME and in a span of 5 minutes all hummed and sung kindheartedly. These craftilicious girls are nothing less than angels to me and this beginning of internship was probably the best decision I took so far.

Selfie with the Keen eyed Kiran harboring dreams behind that ebullient smile.

Selfie with the Keen eyed Kiran harboring dreams behind that ebullient smile.

Reshum introducing herself, the first one to stand up and speak. :)

Reshum introducing herself, the first one to stand up and speak. 🙂

In a world constantly trying to curtail their happiness, Protsahan has carved a niche to self attainment and freedom, every member of the team contributes to the life of these angel girls striving to achieve their vocation. No one can dampen their invigorated spirits. Their wide eyes shout out to run wild. The girls have shown me rainbows and hope beyond despair.

There is a song that suddenly strikes on my mind infusing the ineffable emotions on meeting the dulcet girls of Protsahan.

Dil hai chota sa choti si aasha

Masti bhare mann ki bholi si asha

Chand taro ko chune ki aashaa..

Aasmano mei udne ki aasha”

 

Little cubicle of happiness.

                                                                         Little cubicle of happiness.

I am here to serve them with two things : Roots and Wings.

Chahal Vaid

Protsahan Intern 2015-16


Internships are an intrinsic part and parcel of any B-School curriculum. Abiding by this, we, Anurag Krishnam, Abhinav Singh Raat, Juhi Shukla, Prakhar Verma and Pooja Chowhan introducing ourselves as the new interns at Protsahan India Foundation, this summer, traveled down from Greater Noida to this place which was to change our perspectives forever. With the to-do list in our mind and a propaganda to discuss with the Founder CEO herself, we set forth with our internship plans. A drive down, few steps and this is how we saw Protsahan; Protsahan devoured with encouragement.)

KILKAARIYAN:

The ambiance,a quaint looking lane, houses over-looking each other, children playing all around. We pass through the lanes, by lanes and we stand before the gate which is aloud with the hustle and bustle of vibrant little girls. A step further and you know that you have entered a different dimension of the locality.

We saw them and they left us surprised. A small premise, close over hundred children, some with their books reciting a poem, some gleefully playing together, some sitting in groups discussing everything trivial to issues as big as child marriage where they are working on a film which they are scripting!! From that first step, the dynamics that you see within the centre is phenomenal. For, when have you encountered children, children who have been left depraved, children who seen all, been through all and have sustained all and yet have only smiles to give, to get in this beautiful abode.

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Protsahan Founder: Sonal with the little girls at the school 🙂

‘Protsahan’, it means encouragement. Encouragement not just for a better present, but for a sustained life. What is now ubiquitous is deliberations on women empowerment. We see livid discussions on women’s reservation bill, encouragement for uplifting women across all corporate verticals, The ‘Save-the-girl child’ aandolans. What I personally ascertained upon entering Protsahan was, all this nullified when it came down to the niche, the grass-root level.

The sparkling smiles that shone on the faces of these girls, were once subdued to the extent of even being crushed. For people like us, problems back home meant skirmishes with our siblings, an argument that our parents might have had, for these girls, home was a place where they were sided, their little hands were used for domestic chores. What came to rescue was this bright, young lady with the vision to set up something as novel as Protsahan. Challenges are seen by the day, by each little hour, but the passion of this place only notches up a step in the ladder high. The children come from such tough backgrounds but here find their own haven. Read about a little 6 year old that Protsahan reached out to just a few days back.

‘Protsahan’ was never about a school that taught them how to read and write. ‘Protsahan’ was a lease of new hope that these children got. To learn and express themselves, the happiness when they were clapped for, the yearn to learn more, the bright aura that lit their faces when they handled cameras, picturing perspectives that were different from ours, the chirpiness they regained all resulted in one thing ‘Kilkaariyaan’, brightly hued giggles.

More smiles.

More smiles. At a session where the girls were taught how to make every little animal/plant/thing they wanted through their palm prints. Gradually after a few months of making butterflies, vultures, sheep, honey bees and almost everything else, they were given the learning that they can craft anything they want from within the reach of their hands. Slowly, they should also craft their own destinies. The girls seemed to understand.

When you enter Protsahan, the first thing any mortal would notice is ‘Kilkaariyaan’. (Kilkaariyaan’ is a Hindi word that means gurgling laughter) 

When I say it all, we all have our little inhibitions, we all live with the longing to do something great for ourselves, but when we see outside the pretext of our own happiness, we see children who are much alike us, with lesser and fewer demands, what gives them happiness is recognition of their presence, of their identity, the love, the touch of compassion, the encouragement to open their wings and fly high.

To me, Protsahan is one and all above these.

To me, Protsahan is the reason behind their newly found ‘Kilkaariyaan’.

Protsahan's little most batch at Uttam Nagar school :)

Protsahan’s little most batch at Uttam Nagar school 🙂

We, the interns.

We, the interns.


Salini from Safecity, showing the ChildLine video : Komal, to strike first conversations on child sexual abuse and possible ways to prevent.

Salini from Safecity, showing the ChildLine video : Komal, to strike first conversations on child sexual abuse and possible ways to prevent. Photo Courtesy: Bhim Sen

It had all started as a discussion between Elsa Marie Dsilva (Founder: Safecity.in) and Sonal Kapoor (Founder: Protsahan) when they met during their Vital Voices Fellowship Programme in Nepal. Vital Voices is an international organization that invests in extraordinary women who are trying to transform the world, one unique step at a time with sustainable approaches. Vital Voices works with extraordinary women leaders accelerating peace and prosperity in their communities.

The underlying theme for Sonal and Elsa’s discussion that afternoon over a coffee was to build access to safe spaces for girls irrespective of their economic strata. Understanding each other’s strength areas, Elsa’s being, managing a strong technology platform and Sonal’s being, quality grassroot work to work for India’s at risk girls through creative arts, this campaign came up over a period of ensuing 7-8 months, when Elsa and Sonal met again at Mumbai. Before they knew it, Salini, took the onus to execute it with Protsahan’s girl leaders in Delhi!

Since then, Salini bought in more people to collaborate, Brianna, Aarya and so many more fabulous young people who have added to the campaign in their own unique ways! Phase 1 and Phase 2 of this campaign has successfully been completed. Phase 1 involved the girls understanding the issue of safe public spaces, interacting & brainstorming with the Safecity team on finding unique yet local solutions to problems that plague girl safety in Uttam Nagar slum community in New Delhi. It also involved a Slum Panchayat Session where Sonal interacted with the mothers of the girls and explained them the importance of doing data mapping of their streets and communities.

Sonal addressing the mothers of Protsahan girls on the need for their daughters to stand up against sexual abuse and street harassment.

Sonal addressing the mothers of Protsahan girls on the need for their daughters to stand up against sexual abuse and street harassment. Photo Courtesy: Jony Das

Phase 2 of the campaign progressed when the mothers became crusaders alongside their daughters on this campaign! From initial hiccups where they were afraid; to the subsequent stage where they patted their girls’ backs and asked them to tread with complete confidence and raise their voice, this campaign has traversed a path breaking journey indeed. Exactly this time, while the campaign execution was happening in the slums, an unrelated, but brutal incident had taken place in the community where a 8 year old boy was raped and murdered. Though the initial reaction of the community was to feel scared, gradually when the Protsahan girls picked up their batons with the team from Safecity, there has been no looking back. They have gone ahead and collected over 117 reports with hardcore data sets where they have recorded both qualitative and quantitative responses to understand the issue of street sexual harassment and more in the related context.

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Soni, brainstorms with Khusboo and Anju on how to fill up the survey forms and collect data. Photo Courtesy: Aarya

It is now that they have started documenting their voices in form of creative design posters which’ll go up on the walls of their communities. Also, a small film is being shot documenting the entire progress of the campaign alongside our learnings and what could have been achieved more innovatively. The girls are excited and so are we!

Understanding the issue more closely through cinema appreciation classes.

Understanding the issue more closely through cinema appreciation classes at Protsahan centre, New Delhi. Photo Courtesy: Bhim Sen

This is what Safecity has to say about the campaign on their Facebook Page: 

Here is another update that we made on Facebook, in the initial phases of the campaign going live with execution when the girls started documenting data on computers!

Stay tuned for the campaign film that’ll be out in a few weeks! It’s turning out to be one revolutionary piece of work executed by young adolescent children. 

Do tweet to us at @NGOProtsahan and @PinTheCreep, we are waiting to hear from you on what you have to say about this effort by the girls 🙂

This is what they are saying on twitter!

To know more about our work, check out our official website: www.protsahan.co.in

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Protsahan girls, Dimple and Ansoo with their artwork on the Safe Spaces campaign. Photo Courtesy: Aarya