Shadhika Shadhika


“Graduates walked across the stage and celebrated their accomplishment. Some would be the first in their community to receive this honor.”

Building a Community

By Kendra Nicolai, Shadhika’s Program Officer

June 26, 2019

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The excitement soared as forty young women filled the conference room at the YMCA of Mumbai, ready to embark on the four-day Shadhika Leaders for Change Summit. The schedule was packed, the facilitators were prepared, and the heat was rising in the city of Mumbai. As the young women nervously sat and waited to begin, they glanced at a yearbook that showed all of the attendees – their future friends.

The four days were full of workshops conducted by Vacha, a grantee partner of Shadhika, who implemented an impressive process for the girls to create community projects. These projects were chosen by the girls based on the challenges they face in their communities. Projects ranged from the right to education, child marriage, health and sanitation, voting rights, and girls empowerment. Each project plan included a budget, timeline, activities, and monitoring and evaluation tools.

The 2019 Shadhika Scholars Graduates were the first to form an alumni network and held valuable conversations around finding a job, overcoming challenges, and preparing to help younger scholars to successfully complete their college degree. On the third day, these graduates walked across the stage and celebrated their accomplishment of receiving a college degree. Some would be the first in their community to receive this honor.

The young women stayed at the YWCA and roomed with scholars from different sites, which would end up being one of the most valuable aspects of the summit. While rest and sleep were hard to come by, these young women would share their stories with each other and build a bond that would later become an inspiration to each other.  One scholar reflected on her roommate, “My favorite part was staying with other girls in my room. I learned that we all have problems but we all keep smiling. Those girls were so supportive and motivating.”

A highlight of the summit was the workshop provided by Sharad Sharma with World Comics India on creating comics based on social issues, playing indoor games with Daivashala, competing in the Mighty and Mobile Challenge, the graduation ceremony, and meeting new girls who would become lifelong friends.

On the final day, each girl participated in a presentation about how they would implement their community projects. Girls created street plays, newscasts, slam poetry, poster presentations, and interviews. The afternoon ended with hugs from new friends, exchanging mobile phone numbers, finding each other on Facebook, and motivational goodbyes.

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