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HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

Colony dropout girls make others' Diwali special

Eileen Singh , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, October 29, 2013
First Published: 00:07 IST(29/10/2013) | Last Updated: 00:08 IST(29/10/2013)

While students their age go to school, these young girls try to make both ends meet for their families. But, they don't regret one bit. Instead, they try to make everybody's Diwali a cheerful one with their work. School dropouts aged between 14-18 years from the Bapu Dham Colony (BDC) are wooing hearts with their exquisite handmade greeting cards. The cards - both embroidered and painted - have intricately-made colorful motifs and sketches of Mahatma Gandhi.

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The 25 odd girls who come to Kitaab Ghar at BDC, which is a local library started by city-based NGO Yuvsatta, are taught how to become financially independent.

The young ones are being guided by various volunteers of the NGO.

Volunteer Pooja Sharma, who is actively involved in teaching basic education to the girls, says, “These girls include a batch of dropouts and mostly those who have never been to school. They do not know how to read or even do their own signature.”

“Under this programme, the girls are taught general English and Hindi, signing their names and reading signboards and bus numbers in case they have to travel alone. These are the basic things that the girls need to know. In the two to three hours which they are able to spare from their household chores, we try to give them maximum knowledge,” Sharma adds.

The initiative where the girls make cards during the festive season and other handmade products is called WIN (Women IniTiatives) Handicraft and is run by the NGO.

Yuvsatta coordinator Pramod Sharma shares the motive behind the initiative. He says, “The idea is to make them independent and educated at the same time. By making cards, the young girls are showcasing their talent. We also make it a point to tutor them after their work.”

“It feels great to see that with each passing year the number of girls joining the initiative is growing. Although initially, there were obstacles, but once we started convincing the parents, the girls spared some time for us,” says Pramod, who has been associated with the NGO since seven years.

The cards are usually distributed to schools or brought in bulk by bureaucrats. The girls are given salaries on the basis of the number and type of cards they make.

16-year-old Rehana who works at WIN says, “We get to express our creativity and it brings a smile on the face of people who see it. I always wanted to do something special and also be independent.”

Her classmate Poonam, a 15-year-old, shares, “I now know how to read signboards and sign my name in English. It makes me feel proud of myself.”

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