Youth Initiatives

Asha (Hope)

In slum communities, adolescent girls, ages 14-20, and are often not allowed to continue their education and are restricted from leaving the premises of their cramped homes. This is due to the following: 1) common belief that girls do not need much education as they will soon be married of and taking care of the house 2) struggle for survival which requires that both parents do menial labor, so the daughter has to take care of the siblings and the home 3) the dangerous environment of their neighborhoods which makes parents very worried about the safety and security of their daughters.

The situation is so bleak that most of these girls have no idea what their dreams or aspirations are in life. They are often waiting and passing the time until they are married to to someone they do not know or even like. Over the years, with small interventions and efforts through our centers and outreach programs at the preschools, we learned that these young girls are anxious and seeking hope, love, attention, someone who will listen, education, skills and friends. The majority of these girls are malnourished and need proper nutrition. They have almost no knowledge about their bodies, female health, menstruation, and basic hygiene.

Through this project, we are working with about 2000 adolescent girls in groups of 20-30 in each of our 89 pre-school centers every Saturday afternoon for 2 hours. Each of our centers has two trained teachers who provide loving guidance and support to these girls in addition to imparting exposure and awareness on relevant topics, life-skills, confidence-building through activities. They also provide nutrition at every gathering. On every 4th Saturday, each of our community centers host 150-200 of these girls to share and interact with invited guests and mentors. Through weekly engagement, meaningful activities and nutrition, our intention is to give the girls hope and tools to make a lasting difference in their lives

Adolescent Girls Served Weekly: 1672

Udaan (To Soar)

We started the Udaan (meaning to Soar) program in February 2018 as a special initiative for a particular group of girls in Ramapir No Tekra. They all dropped out of school several years ago and then stopped attending our Vidhyadham classes. After visiting their homes, we learned that they were being pressured by their parents to get married early. We started doing interventions with the parents to build trust. Then we decided to run the Udaan program right next to their homes so that the parents would feel at ease and it would be easier to ensure the girls attended daily. We work with them on their basic education while also imparting life skills and awareness about menstrual hygiene, basic health and hygiene, and how to identify health problems and how to follow up on them. We also do exercise, sports and dance sessions. We hope to prevent early marriage, strengthen their education, confidence and self-awareness and give them skills that will support their life journey.

Adolescent Girls Served: 25

Shakti Center

We started the Shakti (meaning Feminine Power) Center in Shankar Bhuvan as a safe and trusted space to cultivate the awareness, confidence and life-skills, livelihood and health of adolescent girls and women. In this community, though women are the dominant decision makers when it comes to social and financial responsibilities in the household, girls are not given freedom to make choices for their freedom. They are often forced to drop out of school, get married early. In no way are they encouraged to dream about their future or pursue any goals. Their communities are their entire universe, therefore the gain no exposure to the world nor understand their own potential outside of the typical roles designated to them. Through their involvement with Shakti, we have witnessed positive changes in their attitude, confidence and their personalities.

Adolescent Girls and Women Served Daily: 37

Yuva Mitra Mandal (Young Men’s Group)

Through Yuva Mitra Mandal, Manav Gulzar provides men between the ages of 25-35 a space for expression, dialogue and support around lifestyle choices and destructive behavior. Through this initiative, we encourage the men to bring more positivity into their own lives and to those around them, while strengthening their relationship with their community.

Young Men Served: 25