It has been a very busy time at VOICE 4 Girls. These last two months have seen us conduct back-to-back camps in Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. In betwixt the chaos of ‘Camp season’, and at the start of Sakhi Peer Leadership Camp, conducted at Telangana Social Welfare Schools, we were lucky to have a visit from the good people at Scottish Love in Action at the Social Welfare Residential school, Kammadanam (one of three locations where this particular camp is being conducted)!
To give you a little background here, Scottish Love in Action or SLA, is a charity based Edinburgh, Scotland. The organization has been funding a home and school for over 500 destitute children in the East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh. SLA raises funds to support the housing, clothing, education and health care of these children, a lot of who come from marginalized communities and tragic circumstances.
Now looking to expand their operations, SLA has taken a keen interest in backing the work being done by VOICE 4 Girls. Though they have visited VOICE before, this was their first time experiencing a VOICE camp firsthand. The team who visited India, consisting of Gillie Davidson (Founder and Chairperson); Colin McRae (Executive Director) and Vicki Watson (Fundraising and Communications Manager).
VOICE staff met the team at Kammadanam, just as the sun started to chase the light winter chill from the air. A meeting with the Principal, Mrs. Sahida, who is a champion of young girls’ education and empowerment was in order. She has been an ardent supporter of the VOICE Camps, this being the third successive camp after Parichay and Disha camps. “There is such a great change we see in girls after they go through VOICE Camps; they become more confident, more aware and want to achieve more!” she exclaimed. “The difference can even be seen in their academics. I think if you give them the confidence and help one facet of their personalities, the rest of it just follows,” said the educator.
After the brief chat, Gillie, Colin and Vicki proceeded towards different classrooms to observe and assimilate how VOICE Camps are delivered. The day’s lesson which involved an activity that required girls to go from group to group like ‘butterflies spreading pollen’ exchanging and accumulating ideas of what they would each like to improve in their own communities. The Campers didn’t fall short of amazing everyone with their ideas!
“I want to stop child marriage! Just recently a friend of mine got married. It disturbed me a great deal… she wanted something else for herself! She’s a young girl just like me!” said M Lavanya, a fiery camper of Class 9.
“I want to start a program in my community where young and old people can get better training in spoken English,” said A Manasa.
“I want to work towards getting women the same treatment as men do at the workplace. Women are treated and paid less than men. It’s not fair!” said A Maina with great feeling.
The girls, all leaders in their own right, made ample clear their potential to change the world around them. Seasoned from two prior VOICE Camps, these girls are powerhouses of confidence, energy and determination! It is a great credit to the fantastic young counsellors, Samadrita Chakraborty, Nayana Raj, Priyanshi Bahadur, Ponnapalli Srilekha and the managerial guru, V Sai Shubhangi who as Field Coordinator managed the camp sp flawlessly! So much admiration for all these young girls and women!
Energised and enthused from the charged classroom, the SLA team also took the time to have a group discussion with select campers. Gillie, in her soothing and soft voice, had the campers rapt with attention as she told them that they each were unique and beautiful. You could see that each camper, sat straighter believing and assimilating her words.
To end their visit, Colin got everyone involved in an activity he called ‘the Human Firework‘!
What a day! We are so thankful to these wonderful people who are going to be campaigning for VOICE 4 Girls all the way back in Scotland to raise funds that will send hundreds of girls to VOICE Camps! We can’t wait to see them again!