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Shadhika Shadhika

Summer 2014 Letter from Our CEO

August 25, 2014

Over the summer, I spent three weeks in India visiting the groups we support, both old and new, discussing their work during the past year and their plans for the future.

It was wonderful to hear that this year, the first 3 girls will graduate from secondary school at Buddha’s Smile School in Varanasi and want to become nurses and teachers. It was also great to learn that, at New Light in Kolkata, one of the young women we met last December has now completed her training in hotel management and has found a job at a 5-star hotel in Jaipur. Finally, I was pleased to have the opportunity to spend time at Paripurnata with two former residents who have been reunited with their families and now have jobs, one as a caregiver and the other as a seamstress.

All of these stories remind me how change gets made – by changing the lives of individuals, who in turn, change the lives of everyone they meet. Each one of these girls and women now has a belief in herself and what she can do that she will carry with her and share with her children, her husband, and her community.

In India, many of the crimes against women and girls that we are fighting to eliminate – child marriage, trafficking, child labor, female infanticide, etc. – are technically illegal. What hasn’t changed is the culture that allows these practices to continue. To change the culture, we have to create new role models and community leaders who can demonstrate an alternative way of being that values and supports girls and boys, women and men, regardless of caste or religion.

The non-profits we support are changing the culture by creating these new role models and leaders. Though their activities may be focused on education, job training, or computer skills, their ultimate outcomes are instilling a sense of self-worth and empowering the girls and the boys they serve to follow their dreams and to be the change they wish to see in their communities.

This year, with the support of our donors, Shadhika will be able to expand our impact from serving just 115 girls in 2013 to over 800 girls. Over 250 young men will participate in gender-based anti-violence training in the coming year as well. To us, that sounds like the beginnings of culture change.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions: kburnett@shadhika.org

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