It is difficult to be a woman in India. So difficult in fact, that over the last three decades women have chosen not to inflict this burden on their daughters and instead chose to abort them, 12 million times. Yes, times are changing – but it’s not enough. There are still daily instances of female infanticide, sexual abuse, dowry demands, and bride burning. India has a long way to go before women even have some semblance of equality.
One of Child Havens goals is the upliftment and empowerment of women. They do this in several ways. They employ destitute and disabled women in the children’s homes as caretakers and helpers. Often these women also have children who need help. Mother and child both come to Child Haven. They receive plenty of healthy food, a safe place to sleep, quality education (often for the first time) and a new family to grow up with.
Child Haven also strives to raise the young girls in such a way as to instill a sense of worth and equality. Following the gandhian principle of equality of sexes, the girls grow up knowing they will have the same opportunities as the boys. They grow up into strong young women who know that they deserve fair treatment and who have the courage and wisdom to demand it.
Another way that Child Haven supports women is through an outreach program for women in Ghaziabad near New Delhi. The Manav Vikas Parishad (MVP) program has several aspects that help better the lives of the women in this very poor area of the city.
It is a small NGO that helps local impoverished women with training, medical care, and child education. The tailoring program teaches useable skills to young women of the community ages 15 and older. They come to MVP for a free of cost 6 month course which teaches the basics of tailoring; how to use a sewing machine, how to make and cut a pattern, and how to sew a variety of standard dress options. With these skills the women are able to get a job at a local tailoring shop, sometimes even set up a shop of their own, and help out in their own household with tailoring needs.
Most recently they added a sanitary napkin making machine to employ several women, to raise revenue, but most importantly to offer a low cost and hygienic option for women in the surrounding neighborhoods.
On my last trip with Child Haven back in May/June of 2012, we visited a man in Coimbatore, India who invented a low cost, environmentally friendly machine to make sanitary napkins for women. This article in the UK’s Guardian Newspaper –“India’s women given low-cost route to sanitary protection” written by Lakshmi Sandhana, tells the story. A startling number of women in India and many other countries of the world still lack access to or the means to purchase hygienic products to use during their menstrual cycle. They use rags or newspaper instead and shame and stigma are passed from one generation to the next. The inventor, Arunachalam Muruganantham, wants to change this and Child Haven is trying to help.
Since that trip, Child Haven has purchased one of these machines for the MVP project in Ghaziabad. These machines are incredibly beneficial, producing a stable income for the women of MVP and providing hygienic products and education for the local community that they live in. The machine was just recently installed and three young women underwent the training process. On our visit, they took us through the process step by step, showing us their new job with pride and happiness.
If you are interested in helping to fund this project or any of the Child Haven projects please visit their website and pledge your support today.
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