GoPhilanthropic Travel recently returned from a beautiful, emotional and inspiring Journey to India, and this exciting update comes to you from the front line organizations making incredible strides in human rights, gender equity and child protection.
Several GoPhilanthropic Foundation team members, including Director of Programs, Emily Bild, were on the trip in order to catch up with six partner organizations in India and collect real-time updates from their teams.
SPID-SMS Center in Delhi
SPID’s SMS Center in Delhi supports children of women who have been trafficked into the sex industry in Delhi, working to educate, protect them and break the cycle of exploitation. We spent a great deal of time meeting with SMS Center Founder Lalitha and the rest of her team. We were thrilled to learn that their new library is now complete, providing children with a safe, peaceful space where they can read, study and grow!
Back when GoPhil first started supporting the center, Lalitha was running it on her own, alongside a few part-time care workers. We learned that their major challenge and area of need was funding for staff salaries, and the GoPhil community joined together to help fill this gap. Five years later, it’s wonderful to see her now working hand- in-hand with two highly-qualified and passionate female Social Workers; their joint efforts ensure the center runs smoothly and allows them to undertake regular visits to the brothels to support the women and their children.
Shakti Shalini in Delhi
Shakti Shalini’s commitment to women’s rights, gender equality and the dignity of all human beings is a true source of inspiration for all of us at GoPhil. During our visit we had the opportunity to tour their Skills Development Program, supported by the GoPhil community, and learn more about how they are empowering women by helping them gain practical skills and financial independence.
The Shakti Shalini team members also shared about some challenges they were facing, including a lack of space for their computer classes, and their efforts to address them. As a small organization working at the grassroots level, they shared that progress is not always linear, more often it feels like “taking two steps forward, and one step back”. We appreciated this honest conversation and knowing the massive cultural, financial and logistical barriers they overcome each day makes their achievements all the more impressive.
TARA in South Delhi
GoPhil Director of Programs, Emily Bild, was so excited to tour the TARA Outreach Center, which opened its doors just a few weeks prior! The center, based in a marginalized community of rural-to-urban migrants in South Delhi, aims to strengthen vulnerable families to prevent their children from ending up in institutional care. The new center will provide classes to supplement government schooling as well as skilled social work support for families experiencing challenges such as substance misuse or domestic violence. The GoPhil community has supported this project since the beginning, so this chance to see the center in its completion was both personal and heartening.
Meanwhile, the GoPhil group had a memorable visit with some of the children at the TARA Boys’ home, where they heard first-hand about the support they were receiving. It was inspiring to hear how well- versed the children were regarding rights and responsibilities as citizens and how they planned to personally apply this knowledge to improve their communities.
Vikalp Sansthan in Rajasthan
Vikalp Sansthan Founder, Usha, is a force to be reckoned with; engaged against her will at just 15, she spent years fighting cultural and family pressures until she was finally able to break the engagement and continue with her studies. Hearing her speak and watching her interact with rural community members was incredibly impactful; she is a powerful role model for so many girls and women facing similar situations.
The GoPhil group visited the Vikalp Counseling & Support Center for women before traveling with Usha and her team to a tribal village where they have been running a “Sports for Empowerment” program, supported by the GoPhil community. We heard directly from the villagers about the impact of this program, how broader ideas and perceptions around gender equity and bias were being challenged and brought to light through inclusive sports.
Equal Community Foundation in Pune
ECF embodies GoPhil’s philosophy of learning, sharing, networking and mentoring. Having developed their own successful model of engaging with adolescent boys to promote gender equality, they are now ‘scaling up’ this model by identifying, training and supporting grassroots organizations across India to implement similar programs. This is a unique approach in the NGO-world, where too often scarce resources mean that organizations feel in competition with each other or territorial about their work. GoPhil’s grant to ECF supports their “Project Raise” program, enabling them to run trainings for other NGOs and provide ongoing mentorship as they implement pilot programs in their own communities. Hearing the case studies emerging from these programs was very promising, proving that teenage boys can be a powerful force for positive change and gender equality in their families and communities.
“[The boys] were proud of the fact that they were becoming more aware of unequal gender norms and making small changes to their previous thinking, and that they were learning to intervene with others who still hold old beliefs, even with their own parents.”
– Jeanie, GoPhilanthropic Traveler & Founder’s Circle Member
AVANI Women & Child Rights in Maharashtra
AVANI’s work continues to be a prime example of grassroots community-centric work with women and children. AVANI’s Founder Anuradha was a former child laborer herself, and is now a well-known advocate and force for change in the community.
First, the GoPhil group visited a brickyard where AVANI runs a daycare center to prevent child labor. Next, we heard about their work with waste pickers in Kolhapur, where they are partnering closely with the government to establish an official recycling program. The program will not only provide women waste pickers with a formal job, but also support the cleanliness and sustainability of the city. With over a million people in India working informally, collecting and sorting through trash to earn a living, and lacking formal labor rights and protections, this project is truly groundbreaking and has enormous potential. We were so impressed to learn that AVANI’s commitment to collaboration with the local government has really started to pay off; many of their innovative pilot programs are being adopted and funded by the state, ensuring long-term sustainability and far-reaching impact.