By Kashay Sanders, VOICE Program Development Manager
Upon finishing my first year with VOICE 4 Girls and the IDEX Fellowship in Social Enterprise, I said goodbye to India for two months and proceeded to ride more planes in that time frame than in the past two years– from Scandinavia, where I re-discovered my thirst for the intellectual to the USA, where I reconnected with those most important to me after a 12 month hiatus.
Coming back to Hyderabad felt strangely warm and fuzzy, despite riding through the ghostly shadows of the place around 3am to get from the airport to my new apartment. I passed places where I had made memories the year before, and struggled between feeling near to and far from those memories all at once. I had known I was coming back to Hyderabad since about six months prior when I applied for a grant from my former college known as the Lombard Fellowship. The grant has enabled me to, not only to continue the work I started with VOICE, but also take more responsibility and a managing role with the organization. Presently, I serve as the Program Development Manager and oversee the creation of content and new curriculum for our programs and teacher/counselor training.
Very soon after arriving, I immediately sought to immerse myself, once again, in my work with VOICE 4 Girls—and I had to. VOICE is embarking on a new year-long program which will extend its mission and programming throughout the academic year instead of just for the summer. The program will be run as a Spoken English class three times a week, intertwined with the components of life-skills and interactive teaching that lay at the core of VOICE’s programs. The biggest change is that this program is co-ed, as we felt that improving the lives of girls is deeply connected to the involvement of boys and men. We are currently in the throes of ensuring that this new curriculum launches as seamlessly as possible in September.
My first trip back to VOICE involved a new route, because we now have our own office. Whereas we were elbowing for desk space when I left, I met with the program’s ED in her new office at a desk, and was told where I would soon sit. This was followed by a team meeting in our conference room. I couldn’t help looking around the room at our team in awe. When I first joined VOICE, the main employees were the founders, and here we sat with our energetic college intern, our Field Coordinators, Regional Coordinators, Business Development Director, and Executive Director. The meeting was about how we’ll be impacting the lives of more girls this year, the plan to expand to cities like Mumbai and the successes of the past year.
There was something beautiful to me, about this—seeing VOICE visibly propelled forward in its mission, with a working and growing team, and the potential for increased impact. The visible growth is a manifestation of the fact that people believe in the organization’s capacity to deliver and because of that, we are more able to match the belief with reality.
So in short, what I’m saying is, Thank You.