Shadhika Shadhika

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By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO

 

Kavita* is angry. 

We are sitting in a non-descript, corporate conference room where Kavita is currently doing a three-month accounting internship. Earlier this year, Kavita received her Bachelors in Commerce, and Baale Mane, Shadhika’s grantee partner in Bangalore, found her this paid internship, which we all hope will be a stepping-stone to her landing her first job. 

We’ve just had a meeting with Kavita’s supervisor, who gave an enthusiastic report of how Kavita has been doing, reporting that she is hard working, reliable, curious, and a good team player. This is everything

one would want to hear from an employer. Indeed, the company is so pleased with Kavita’s performance, they have offered to extend her internship for another three months. All of this brings tears to our eyes. Because we know the journey Kavita has taken to get to this point. 

Kavita came to Baale Mane, a home for girls who have been orphaned, abandoned or abused by their families, when she was seven, after being found begging on the streets of Bangalore, abandoned by her family.  

Kavita’s fate is similar to that of many girls in India, who, from the moment they are born, find themselves unwanted by their families. But with Baale Mane’s support, Kavita has been able to overcome her fate and chart a new life for herself.  And now, she’s taking the next step in her life, getting a job and becoming financially self-sufficient. 

It is during a discussion with Kavita afterwards about how she feels about her job and while we are counselling her about being responsible with her wages, that she begins to talk about wanting to use some of her earnings to go back to her village and confront her family. “I want them to see all that I have become. I want to show them they were wrong to throw me away like so much garbage.” Her eyes burn large with her anger.

I find myself conflicted by her intentions and uncertain how to respond. On the one hand, I meet her anger with my own. Overcome by the injustice that she has faced, for a moment, I have the urge to buy her the train ticket home.  But then I am struck by the sad realization that such a journey would no doubt be a wasted effort, not producing the result she desires and more probably only serving to sharpen her rage. 

So instead, we all begin to discuss the pros and cons of her taking this action, honoring her feelings but also helping her to work through what action would make the most sense and enable her to understand her past, but not to continue to be a victim of it. Through this discussion, she begins to calm down. As she looks down at her hands folded into her lap, one can see the quiet realization spreading over her. Her past, while still a half-healed wound, is not her fate. That’s hers alone to choose. She can keep revisiting the past, or she can look forward. She looks up at us and breaks into a smile, “Can I show you my desk?” 

And we get up for a tour of the office. 

* named changed for safety

Baale Mane

December 14, 2017

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   Kavita* is angry.  We are sitting in a non-descript, corporate conference room where Kavita is currently doing a three-month accounting internship. Earlier this year, Kavita received her Bachelors in Commerce, and Baale Mane, Shadhika’s grantee partner in Bangalore, found her this paid internship, which we all hope   

Equal Community Foundation

November 28, 2017

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   The time difference between India and Denver, Colorado, where I live, is twelve and a half hours. That means when I wake up in the morning, the first things that greet me are often “breaking news alerts” on my smart phone. Having left for India right when   

STOP India

November 13, 2017

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   When I was younger, I used to play a game where I would ask people what superpower they would like to have – the ability to fly or the power to be invisible? I always chose the power to fly. But Savita* wanted to be invisible. It   

Jabala Action Resource Center

November 6, 2017

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   Their faces stare down on us, silently watching our work. Tagore, Nehru, Gandhi, and other Indian men of note whose names I do not know. I am sitting in a small second floor community room in the heart of the Bowbazar community, home to the largest Red-Light   

Vacha

October 29, 2017

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   “Do you have a uterus?” The question catches me off guard, but the young girl before me earnestly wants to know. We are sitting on the floor in a community room in a ‘basti’ (slum) outside of Mumbai, visiting with the young women and men who are   

The Impact of Computers in a Mumbai Community

August 21, 2017

By Durga and Sneha, sisters who are both Shadhika Scholars and community leaders at Vacha, Shadhika’s partner in Mumbai.   With the help of Shadhika, my sister and I were able to save up enough money to purchase a computer together. This investment has drastically changed our lives. Before we had our own computer school   

Spring

May 18, 2017

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   I love Spring. After six months of snow here in Colorado, the arrival of Spring, in the form of flowering bulbs emerging in my garden, makes me smile and gives me hope for the future. I also love Spring because that is when we receive our annual   

I Want to be a Trailblazer

April 21, 2017

By Zaira*, a Shadhika Scholar and community leader at STOP India, Shadhika’s partner in Delhi.   I wish to do an MBA or study in the field of business because one sees extremely few girls. Most people think this field is only for boys. I want to be a trailblazer for girls in my community. So that   

Letter from Shadhika’s CEO: Report on STOP India

January 17, 2017

Dear Friends, My past visits with STOP India in Delhi have sometimes been bittersweet. Two years ago, Shadhika made a bet and provided start-up funding to help this organization that works with survivors of sex trafficking launch a business venture to teach the women how to manufacture apparel and jewelry for sale. The venture provided