Fighting against all odds

Shaikh Nilofarbanu Muhammad Hanif (13 years old, studying in 7th standard) lives in Juhapura area of Ahmedabad. She lives with her mother who is the sole bread earner of her house. Her mother earns her livelihood by doing household work for which she gets a mere 500 rupees / month. After her father’s death in 2008 the financial condition of her family worsened and her mother was forced to put her two elder sister’s (age 17 years and 15 years) in orphanage. But then also poor financial condition didn’t deter Nilofarbanu to pursue her studies.

During that time, for the development of under privileged women SAATH started a Women Development Center (WDC) in Juhapura area so, when she read the pamphlet of WDC she visited the center and showed her interest in English speaking course. Later on she was enrolled for the course. Initially for few days she came to class but then she disappeared and never again came to the center. To know the actual reason behind her absence center coordinator visited her house. “When I visited her house and asked Nilofar about reason behind  her absence from the class she told me that she really wants to learn English but her mother only earns 500 rupees a month so she could not afford the programme fee (500 rupees)of English speaking course. “ says Zaheeda Shaikh, Center Coordinator, WDC.

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Women in WDC Computer Course with their teachers Shahin Shaikh(In the front) and Menaz Saha(In the Back). Menaz first joined WDC as a student and later seeing her enthusiasm she was hired as a teacher.

After listening to her story and looking at her enthusiasm and willingness to learn English, center coordinator decided to give her a special consideration and eventually her course fee was exempted. Now Nilofar comes regularly to the center.  When Zaheeda asked about her aspirations in life she told her that she just want to complete her studies first.

Established in August 2012, based out of Juhapura, WDC is a community based women empowerment and livelihood center ‘Falah-e-Niswa’ as the women themselves have named it, aims at linking vulnerable women to various ‘sources-of-income’ which at the end of the day uplifts their pNew Picture (4)ower and dignity. Currently providing trainings in English speaking, Computer Courses and Beauty Parlour Courses. The vision of programme is to provide the information to women on issues like Domestic Violence, Educational and Health issues etc. and try to guide them to overcome those. Centre will also create linkages with other programmes of Saath like Micro Finance, CFS, Urban Resource Centre etc. This will holistically support the women approaching the centre.

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A total of 97 women have been trained till date in the courses of English Speaking, Computer Course and Beauty Parlour.

“This kind of centres should open for not just women from minority group only but also for the underprivileged women of all the sections of society so as to empower them and give them a voice” says Zahida Shaikh, Coordinator, WDC

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