by Corinne Yank, GoPhil Communications Manager

Vikalp Sansthan had a very eventful 2019! Thanks in part to the support, investment and partnership of GoPhil donors, their programs are igniting incredible change at the community level. Following are key highlights we know you will enjoy reading.

Building Confidence Through Sports

Vikalp’s Sports for Empowerment project encourages girls to learn new skills, develop self-confidence and better understand their bodies, health and capabilities. The project also provides a gateway to initiate larger conversations about empowerment, girls’ rights and alternative channels for growth, with the ultimate goal of keeping girls in school and free from child marriage.

It’s amazing to see how the participants’ behaviors are visibly changing in a matter of weeks – with girls new to the project wearing their traditional clothing, often watching from the sidelines, and those who’ve been enrolled for a few weeks wearing tracksuits and Vikalp shirts, confidently battling it out on the field.

The story of Nirmala exhibits the immense impact of the Sports for Empowerment project.

Nirmala dropped out of school in 2015. One evening, on her way to fetch water, she saw a few girls playing volleyball in her village and couldn’t resist approaching them to learn more. That’s how she learned about Vikalp and became involved in their Sports for Empowerment Project. Vikalp provided her with a ray of hope and encouraged her to return to school in 2016. But then her family refused to let her attend exams, which were held far from her village. Nirmala protested and refused to eat for 2 days, until they finally agreed to let her pursue her education and travel to take her exams.

Nirmala says, “I do not want to be like other girls in my village who just do household work and have no ambition, hence I will work hard. I used to just laugh when people asked me questions. Now I reply with confidence. I always tell girls around me whatever I learn from Vikalp activities and try to spread as much awareness as possible. Vikalp has motivated me so much that I would never want to quit school… I would have been married now if Vikalp wasn’t there.”

Importantly, Vikalp has developed strong and trusting bonds with the parents of many of the girls participating in this program. This is crucial because unsupportive families are one of the biggest barriers to reaching and engaging these rural, at-risk girls. Vikalp has reported a change in attitude among many parents who, though watching their daughters do incredible things, have started to realize their potential and now promise to support them.

One parent recently shared: “We always send Ganga to attend Vikalp’s meetings and camps. She participated in sports camp in Udaipur as well. There is a lot of improvement. I will send her again for exposure if there is any opportunity in the future. I know she wants to be a teacher; first we will let her fulfill her dreams, then think about her marriage.”

For a closer look at the Sports for Empowerment project, check out this video.

A Lifeline for Survivors

Vikalp’s Helpline & Support Center provides women and girls with a safe place to report abuses, receive counseling and obtain assistance reporting abuses to the authorities. In the last quarter, the Vikalp Helpline and Support Center worked on 7 new gender-based violence cases, including 1 rape case, 1 honor killing case, and 5 domestic violence cases.

Furthermore, 2 cases were resolved during this period. The support center worked closely with the survivors and held special counseling sessions to help them recover from trauma. Vikalp also conducted extensive follow up on each case. Though the numbers are not massive here, the helpline is quite literally a lifeline for the survivors who do call, providing women and girls with help during their time of greatest need. The center focuses on quality over quantity of services, ensuring each survivor is holistically supported along the long and complicated road to justice and healing.

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