SoCH for Social Change..

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It was 2015. One hot summer day at VOICE camp a VOICE Camp Counsellor, a young woman who was pursuing her undergrad at a well-known college in Hyderabad, was sharing her experience of teaching adolescent VOICE campers in her class. She said, “I probably learnt more than my campers and I am so much more confident of who I am” and her words still echo in my mind. This probably was the seed that grew the tree of SoCh for Social Change. It was clear that young people have immense potential to be social change agents and all they need is a space to explore themselves, their anxieties and their futures. When given that space, they flourish into individuals who not only are more confident about themselves but also become strong support systems and social change agents!
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But in all this I had a hidden agenda, to work with young women! When I was growing up and in my early adult life, I was always unsure about myself and my decisions. My childhood in a traditional family setting cultured me to think that being a girl is a burden. I fought ‘being a girl’ label all through my early life and did everything I was told I could not do! I have hence made it my life mission to give girls and women an opportunity to equalise. So the first project of SoCh for Social Change, Project Oorja, had to be with young women! Through Oorja, which means energy, we are working with 250 young women in Mahbubnagar District, Telangana, India to ‘Explore the Infinite Energy Within Themselves’! The one week camp saw us do three modules – (1) Understanding Self (2) Future Readiness (3) Taking Action

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These 250 young women are ready to be Social Change Agents…stay tuned to hear more from us.

The author of this blog is Anusha Bharadwaj, Executive Director VOICE4girls and Founder SoCH.

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A campaign to VOICE your Freedom!

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India’s Independence Day is right around the corner and we are super pumped to not only celebrate the freedom we won 72 years ago but also to voice the issues that we need freedom from!

VOICE4Girls’ campaign for this Independence Day is #VOICEYourFreedom which urges individuals, organizations, and communities to raise their VOICE for the causes they are passionate about. We have surely come a long way, but we have a long way to go!

Have a look at what our readers have to VOICE their FREEDOM for…

Ekta

“Freedom necessarily means the freedom to be treated equally. Freedom for me is the agency to make my own choices and have my own voice heard.” -Ekata

 

Hima Bindu

“Freedom is the right to live your life to the fullest with no boundaries. It is when you don’t give a second thought for what you wish to do. Freedom is not given to you by anyone. It is a feeling inside you that inspires you to achieve milestones.” -Hima Bindu

 

 

Nikitha“Independence isn’t just for territory, Independence isn’t just for political dominance, Independence isn’t just for existence, Independence is for thought, Indpendence is for opinion, Independence is for everyone.” -Nikitha

 

unnamed (1)“Freedom means having safer spaces for girls and women where they can voice their opinions, make decisions for themselves, and promote their leadership skills. On this 72nd Independence Day, let’s stand and work together to unleash the power of girls/women.” Vanitha Prabhu

 

FREEDOM from “prejudices.”26907209_10214622789346716_7195885489764960302_n
FREEDOM from “corrupt minds.”
FREEDOM from “unwanted advise.”
FREEDOM from “old stone age education.”
FREEDOM from “privileges and entitlements.” 

-Raman Bharadwaj

 

“We #voiceourfreedom for the cause of liberating #younggirls from #genderstereotypes and #gendernorms & #youngboys from #ToxicMasculinity.” -The Gender Lab

 

“Freedom for me is to be able to walk freely and fearlessly in the nights.” –Akshatha 

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“Independence Day is right around the corner and we are super pumped to not only celebrate the freedom we won 72 years ago but also to voice the issues that we need freedom from! The time is now!” – Mabel

 

What will you VOICE your freedom for?

Share with us a cause close to your heart and #VOICEYourFreedom! You can send us your entries on social media or email at voice@voice4girls.org!

A powerful transition!

What we do at VOICE is very significant but we never pause to reflect on the power of transition. This summer, I had a moment that was so powerful that it reminded me to take time to reflect and congratulate ourselves on what Team VOICE did… We reached about 5800 campers across Telangana (Parichay, Disha, and Sakhi camps)!

Parichay and Disha

What got me reflecting was Lakshmi, a coy yet confident teenager who came up to me and said, “Akka, do you remember me from Disha camp?” At that moment, I was transported back to the first time I met Lakshmi Prasanna in the second camp, Her VOICE Disha Camp, December 2015 at Thorrour, Telangana. During the time I spent bonding with the wonderful campers and making them comfortable to let me take their pictures in the face of my big camera, Lakshmi caught my eye. My initial memory of Lakshmi is that of an inquisitive and yet a shy camper with two pigtails who couldn’t help but wanted to be in the frame of my camera and not in it all at once. Even yet, she gave me the best picture of the day, the one that I share here, framed against the beautiful Camper Dairies that every Disha camper shares with her friends!

To see Lakshmi transformed into a person bursting with confidence and curiosity was a true reflection of the power of VOICE Camps! After conversing with her, it became evident that the camps had really helped Lakshmi tap into her potential. Gone was the shy under-confident camper and in her place stood a strong capable young woman.  Lakshmi’s beautiful transformation will always remind me of the beauty and power of our camps! These stories that we come across and the changes we notice in our campers ignite our bones and keep the fire burning within us!

Sakhi (2018)

So we are here bringing her voice directly to you, listen to what Lakshmi Prasanna has to share with you!

“I first heard about VOICE 4 Girls when I was in class 6. I was told that I will be attending ‘Parichay’ camp and I was so nervous. But it came out to be one of the best camps that I ever attended. I learnt so many new things including menstruation, good touch and bad touch, violence, etc. I remember how excited I was to attend the next camp ‘Disha’ after that. This year, I attended the third camp which was ‘Sakhi’ and I am so happy to be elected as a Sakhi manager. I can see the change in me as I have built confidence gradually, and I believe that I can be a public speaker one day. I not only learnt how to solve problems but also learnt how to keep myself in someone’s shoes. Being a Sakhi manager, I am now more focused on giving my schoolmates all the information that I gained during these camps so that they give the same to their communities.”

Here is a video of Lakshmi sharing her story!

I hope you like her and do share with us what you think of Lakshmi’s transformation. I would like to hear from you.

(The above article is written by Anusha Bharadwaj, Executive Director of VOICE4Girls.)