There are many organisations in India that work with children from underprivileged backgrounds. But the Colorss Foundation in Gujarat is unique in that it combines creative arts and soft skills training with technology, to help vulnerable children feel more confident.
Anand Koti founded Colorss in 2008, after doing his post-graduation in industrial psychology from MS University, Vadodara. Anand told The Better India that he had worked on multiple community based projects before he founded Colorss. He says, “The 2001 earthquake in Gujarat that killed more than 19,000 people made me realise that in case of a natural disaster, it was women and children, the most vulnerable groups, who suffered the most. So, I decided to help empower them and make them self-reliant through various skill development workshops.”
The Colorss of Life is one such workshop. It is organised in two schools and has 200 beneficiaries, children from Class 5 to Class 9.
The workshop allows children to experiment with different media such as writing and drawing to express their feelings.
If they appear to be troubled, based on what they express, they and their families attend counselling sessions organised by Colorss.
In 2011, some of the best writings by these children were compiled in a magazine, Colorss E-Zine.
Anand believes this project has greatly enhanced the children’s’ confidence levels. He says, “Seeing their names, pictures and articles published on a website had them excited. Since our sessions are organised after school, the attendance rates were impacted positively too through word of mouth.”
Under Project Urja, Colorss helped ten women learn soft skills such as stitching and weaving, through professional training. Now, the women are able to help support their families financially by selling handcrafted jewellery, cloth bags, jute mobile bags, designer envelopes, etc.
However, of all the projects undertaken by Colorss, Mission 1000 is one of the most interesting.
Anand, who has a black belt in Karate and green belt in Kobudo, launched this project to empower schoolgirls in Pune “both physically and physiologically,” by teaching them self-defence free-of-charge.
He says, “I’ve trained around 400 girls how to kick, punch and block assaults from sexual predators. But that isn’t the only focus of our project; we hope that teaching martial arts and meditation to them helps make them calmer and more self-assured. According to recent NCRB reports, around 93 women in India are raped every day and we don’t want our girls to just become a statistic.”
Anand believes that learning self-defence helps make these girls independent. It gives the girls agency to venture out alone and take important life decisions, such as, choosing careers that demand late hours and/or a lot of travelling.
He says, “We don’t abandon the girls after one training session, we make sure to follow up two weeks after the first session is conducted. This assures the girls that it is a long-term process and we are equipping them with skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. We help these girls walk into crowded public spaces with their heads held high. If we notice that a student is particularly skilled in martial arts, we recruit her to coach more girls because we want our project to be sustainable.”
In order to expand the scope of this project and reach out to more schools and universities, the Colorss foundation needs more funds.
If you want to help 1,000 schoolgirls equip themselves with skills that could one day save their lives-
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