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Sambhali – Empowering Women To Rise And Take Charge

Govind Singh Rathore was 14 years old when he realised that in his patriarchal society widows have no status, respect or any rights! Together with his family and friends, he took steps to raise the status of Dalit women in the caste-prejudiced state of Rajasthan, and so Sambhali Trust was born in 2007.

Sambhali means the ‘Rising of the deprived women’. The essence of Sambhali is its personal and needs-based approach and fulfilling the needs of the women and girls who come to Sambhali for help. Sambhali Trust aims to make these women and girls independent so that they don’t need Sambhali anymore through providing them with vocational training and education that also improves their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Sambhali Trust works for a better life for women
Sambhali Trust works for a better life for women

Govind Singh Rathore, the founder, talks about his trust and vision.

Throughout all projects, the main aim of Sambhali Trust is to improve gender equality; to make women become independent in decision-making and looking after themselves and their families. Besides offering a vocational training in sewing and embroidery skills and teaching them Hindi, English and Maths, every participant is known to us personally; their reasons for coming to Sambhali and how we can help them through training with the increased potential of earning an income through their improved skills.

Govind Singh Rathore was just 14 years old when his father died and his mother took him out of school and made him head of the household. He found that suddenly his mother became an outcast from her friends and disrespected in her community. That was when he felt that he really wanted to do something to help women. He persuaded his Dalit maid, to bring her three girl children to his house and started to teach them to read and write. The next day, Meera, the maid, brought 18 girls with her.

Govind Singh Rathore with Setrawa kids
Govind Singh Rathore with Setrawa kids

Six months later, Sambhali Trust was born with the help of his family and friends; a non-profit charitable organisation to help with the empowerment of Dalit women and girls, the most vulnerable in this society.

Sambhali takes a holistic approach with all its participants to help with their welfare and that of their children. We have a Shelter Home Service which helps Dalit women and girls in the face of suffering received from domestic abuse; where they can stay in a refuge, receive support, counselling and advice. We support women who want to fight for justice in the courts. We have been on rallies campaigning in support of women’s issues. We provide workshops on Women’s Rights, Health and Awareness issues through presentations given in the Empowerment Centres including a Breast Cancer Awareness Workshop.

Sambhali Trust makes women self reliant by giving them training in Sewing
Sambhali Trust makes women self reliant by giving them training in Sewing

And there’s so much more that Sambhali Trust does – They provide self-defence classes and regular medical health-camps for check-ups and advice on health and nutrition. They have also provided the children in the boarding-home with free dental check-ups and treatment as well as eye-sight tests, and provided the means for an ear-drum operation for one of the girls. The Trust has been very impactful in all its endeavours.

From its earliest beginnings 6 years ago, Sambhali Trust has now developed into 12 projects; including 4 Empowerment Centres all providing vocational training in sewing skills as well as tuition in Hindi, English and Maths. We have 2 Graduates Sewing Centres, a Boutique outlet to be able to sell the items the Centres produce, a Self-Help Group project running for the last 4 years in the rural areas in the Thar Desert area, helping 89 women to save money and run their own small businesses. We have an Educational Project where 20 village children receive accommodation in Jodhpur so they can get an education in a good school, as well as sponsoring 135 children to go to school through direct sponsorship from individual donors. 11 ex-students have also been employed by Sambhali in one role or another.

The Trust believes in working with the administration, and has forged links with the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment as well as the Child Welfare Committee in Jodhpur. Sambhali has also been asked to provide education and activities in a government-run shelter for girls, and provided training for previously-run government Self-Help Group Projects in Jodhpur.

Computer classes run by Sambhali Trust
Computer classes run by Sambhali Trust

Sambhali Trust has won many awards for its part in working with Women’s Empowerment in Jodhpur and Govind Singh feels that there is a lot that needs to be accomplished in the future as well.

We are at present strengthening our organisation by developing associate organisations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to help support us by encouraging more volunteers to come and work in our projects as well as support us in different areas of Education (sponsoring children to go to school), enabling village women to start small businesses by helping them to buy a goat, cow etc. Within the next year, we are aiming to maintain our current projects and open a new sewing centre with the women who have already completed a 6 month vocational training course; we want to develop their techniques for them to create well-made products that will be sold in the Sambhali Boutique.

sambhali5It takes a lot of perseverance to get the trust of the women; Govind’s vision and commitment is worth a standing ovation. He has been successful in understanding the problems of the people who come to Sambhali in need of help and tries to support them in any way possible. He is not put off by minor obstacles and achieves what is necessary in a very short time, thus creating a dynamic force behind the organisation, continually driving it forward.

Digital media can help us to engage support in terms of attracting more volunteers to come and work in our projects as well as in gaining support. Secondly, we would like the public to know that we run a service where we work with professional counselors and psychologists for any woman who has suffered domestic abuse. We want your readers to know about our recent one-day conference on “No Bad Touch” – Awareness of Child Sexual Abuse which has brought several interested parties together from the areas of Health and Education in Jodhpur.

Awareness is the beginning of all changes so let us all make people aware about this revolutionary rising of the deprived women. To know more about them, you could visit their website.

This post was published on Halabol Voices, which is an initiative of Halabol – a platform for initiating change, and reprinted here with permission.

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