A tale of two women who works for the development of street children.
There are two kinds of people in the world. One who complains, and one who works for a change. For too long now, we – the middle class of India – have chosen to be a complainer. We're never happy. We always find fault in everything.
On one hand, people throw garbage on the roads and footpaths and on the other, they post a video which supports 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.' We always complain about the problems but never try to solve them. Incredulous, but true!
Same goes with the society, everyone wants it to be more developed and educated, but no ones want to contribute. Thanks to Udyami – an NGO started by a pair of Teach for India fellows in Delhi as they're empowering children and building tomorrow's leaders.
Indian women have always been a personification of beauty, strength, intelligence and power. The contribution of women in our society cannot be neglected. They have played a significant role in changing many social injustices and have been a shining star of hope.
Let me introduce you to women who're making a difference, who're working for a cause. Chandni Chopra and Aarshiya Chaudhry are fighting for the rights of children, and they're making our surroundings a better place to live in.
Kudos ladies, You are doing a great job!
In 2015, Chandni Chopra and Aarshiya Chaudhry were impressed by their students' potential and decided to open an NGO which will work to empower children by bringing out their leadership qualities. They realized that all children have the ability to develop leadership skills. It is a place which is not limited up to classrooms or students. Children are provided with the wings of opportunities to increase their potential and bring about the kind of change we wish to see in the world. Some birds are born to fly. They have no boundaries!
For Chandni and Arshiya, Udyami was a perfect place to do that.
"Delhi has got an entrepreneurial spirit – jugaad as many call it," Chandni laughs, "Even among the Fellows here, there's a lot of creativity in projects and an emphasis on policy and advocacy, given that we're in the nation's capital. The two streams we wanted to focus on were raising your voice about current issues and finding solutions for your community. We wanted to cultivate sustainable student leadership."
"We had tried to focus on communities but didn't feel like the kids were doing anything. We wanted to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in the children. We wanted them to create – to bring about real change!" Chandni said.
Udhyami is growing day by day. When you start working for a noble cause automatically divine power encourages you to do more. With 30 kids from the five schools spread across Sangam Vihar, Mehrauli, and Tughlakabad. Udhyami is spreading smiles among children.
They had changed the traditional form of education into a unique form where they're more focused on extracurricular activities rather than bookish knowledge. The five mentors bring students from their respective classrooms but are given no guidelines or restrictions like an academic achievement which empower students and make them more independent on taking any decisions. To express is to impress is what they believed in. "We ended up with a real bell curve – the final set of students was representative of any classroom. Some of them were struggling to find their voice. Others were on their way to making their vision a reality, and there were those who weren't yet sure what they're passionate about. What mattered in the process was the investment of the Fellow mentors," says Chandni.
Udyami focuses more on expression than on education. One who can express well is the one who can be a leader. Children may hesitate to speak out in classrooms. They might be more comfortable with their groups, or they may prefer to keep to themselves or playing quietly in the corner. And to elevate their voice, Udyami focuses more on mindsets and skill-development programs, where students are allowed to think whatever they want. The kids do SWOT analysis on a particular topic, and a lengthy discussion is carried out by them. Interaction leads to perfection. The other session deals with the personal development goals which are set by students for themselves. Students are given a chance to explore some social topics like cold war, Kashmir conflict, and political system of other countries. It not only helps them to understand the world but also helps them to grow in matters which are more universal.
"When we used to ask them what about something that motivates them individually, their responses weren't high. Now, everything's coming from a personal place and in their voice. There's authenticity," says Chandni.
"Anjali's home life is a struggle, characterized by violence. I had never known her as so powerful. She then took me upstairs to a shared terrace and showed me the garden she's grown. She's so happy to see things bloom and it's what she's passionate about. Now, a year later, she's facilitating group sessions! She writes her slam poetry and has clear goals – she wants to be a naturalist. Anjali is exploring herself. Not that she is trying to be confident or outspoken. She's just not guarding it anymore," shares Chandni.
Aarthi started this initiative with the help of Udyami to fight against the society who tries to oppress women empowerment. She was a victim of eve teasing, and since then the brave girl decided not to stay quiet but to scream for her rights. Another group of girl started the same initiative to fight for their fundamental rights during their summer breaks and starts performing street plays on the same theme to create awareness about women empowerment, and education. Udyami has changed their life and mentality.