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In 54 Bengal Villages, Women Kick Abuse & Violence to the Kerb Utilizing Sports activities

#MakingSportWork: We rejoice the potential of sport to construct a #BetterIndia with opinion items, tales and profiles of how sport can enhance the lives of each Indian. Learn extra from this unique sequence by The Higher India and Sports activities and Society Accelerator right here.

In 2016, Shib Shankar, a social entrepreneur from Kolkata, was working with an NGO in Bihar within the area of rural improvement. 

“I used to be concerned in educating folks about well being in Gaya district of Bihar, and Kota district of Uttar Pradesh by way of campaigns, disseminating data that will assist them,” he says. 

This was his introduction to the rampant violence towards ladies in Bihar’s villages. In a state that ranks second pan-India in circumstances of home violence, the ladies that Shib labored with had little company. 

He remembers a selected incident that left him shaken, whereas he was utilizing cellphones to debate well being subjects with ladies in Gaya district. 

The NGO workplace obtained a name informing them that one of many ladies studying from this programme was crushed mercilessly by her husband, who assumed that she was talking to a different man on the telephone. He beat her for lengthy sufficient that the neighbours needed to intervene, Shib remembers.

Girls at Shreeja are trained in holistic development, here they sit in the class are learn lessons and academics
Women at Shreeja are skilled in holistic improvement, Image credit: Shib Shankar

“To me, that was horrifying information,” he says, including that his colleagues, too, had seen many such circumstances of unrest and turmoil.  

This made the 63-year-old surprise what help programs these ladies had in place. May constructing a group the place younger women met and related equip them to talk up towards such social evils as they grew older? 

For Shib, a great way to give this concept some form was by way of sports activities, which couldn’t solely deliver the women collectively, but additionally painting their energy and zeal to choose up a discipline that ladies don’t foray into too usually. “I wished to construct a ladies’s soccer staff,” he tells The Higher India

In 2017, this thought would take form within the type of Shreeja India, a Kolkata-based NGO that works as a sports-based, out-of-school studying facility for kids belonging to tribal communities. Underneath its purview, there are lots of actions and studying alternatives. 

In his quest to start out this enterprise, Shib was joined by his brother Hari Shankar Dasgupta. The 2 had been stuffed with a zeal to assist women from villages of Keledihi, Jhikra, Manik Dihi, Badhagachi and extra to face up for themselves. 

Over time, the organisation went from being solely a soccer teaching centre to 1 that was additionally academics-oriented. This, he says, was on the behest of the mother and father of 50-odd women, who had been all eager on taking over the game. “Their mother and father requested that, together with the soccer, Shreeja ought to begin an out-of-school tutorial teaching centre. In order that’s what we did,” he says.   

Shreeja India's football program sees girls playing the sport together
Shreeja India’s soccer program sees women enjoying the game collectively, Image credit: Shib Shankar

Immediately, Shreeja is that secure area that Shib was trying to create. Women from 54 villages get to equip themselves with abilities introduced by their interactions with one another, abilities they study, their progress at sports activities, and features in lecturers. 

Having all these actions below one roof is helpful, says Hari Shankar. “The bodily energy and confidence acquired on the soccer floor are mirrored throughout their out-of-school studying and improve their tutorial efficiency.” 

He provides that the bond created on the sphere additionally equips the women to combat social evils like early marriage, abuse, trafficking, and violence towards ladies.

Sonali Soren has been a part of the soccer teaching since she was ten years outdated. She says all of it started when she noticed boys in her village enjoying the sport and was intrigued to affix in. 

“In our village, women enjoying soccer is exceptional. Since I didn’t know of many ladies who performed the game, I might practise with the boys. However once I joined Shreeja, all of it modified,” she says.  

She additionally notes that the NGO takes care of all their meals and vitamin necessities as properly. 

So as to add to soccer and lecturers, there’s additionally a give attention to the holistic improvement of the women. As an illustration, they’re given laptop courses and study completely different subjects on the sensible TVs on campus.  

“We additionally do play remedy, whereby a skilled play therapist helps the youngsters discover their feelings and cope with unresolved trauma,” says Shib. 

Together with this, social consciousness programmes deal with points reminiscent of little one marriage, trafficking, menstrual and sexual well being, and so forth., and assist render significant data and sources to the women. 

Girls are given nutritious meals to build their BMI for playing the sport,
Women are given nutritious meals to construct their BMI for taking part in the game, Image credit: Shib Shankar

“These programmes sensitise them and provides them data as they usually lack applicable steerage in these issues,” he provides. 

The cycle of excellent 

The NGO additionally runs the Nutri-Properties mission, whereby they supply 70 households from 15 backward villages in Rajnagar, Birbhum with fruits, greens, and coaching to start out their very own kitchen gardens.

The concept at Shreeja is to start out a cycle of excellent. Thus, women who’re skilled and clear their increased secondary board exams are additional inspired to coach the following batches. That is a part of Venture Vidushee, launched in August 2020. 

As Shib explains, Venture Vidushee focuses on the foundational studying of youngsters from tribal communities. 

It seeks to instil the behavior of commonly attending faculty in first-generation learners, who’re primarily aged 5 to 10. “This mission targets each girls and boys, as Shreeja believes all genders must be adequately knowledgeable,” he provides. 

At present, Shib says, there are 10 Vidushee academics and 143 youngsters below the programme.  

We spoke to considered one of them, Neha Mardi, who has been related to Shreeja since Class 10 and is now a instructor below Venture Vidushee. 

Recounting her personal days as a pupil at Shreeja, she says, “I interacted with so many different women who all got here from completely different villages, and this helped me develop whereas I studied and performed with them.” 

She provides that alongside along with her research, she additionally learnt so much about tradition and values. When she gave her increased secondary boards, Neha made her village proud by scoring 92 per cent.  

A long-lasting influence, on and off the sphere 

Shreeja India’s Past Soccer programme has been working in Birbhum and Purba Bardhaman districts of West Bengal for the final 5 years and has helped 300 women play soccer, says Shib. 

Nonetheless, challenges have been a lot for the brothers, on condition that age-old customs and notions are embedded deeply within the communities they work with. 

Team spirit is a big focus at Shreeja India
Group spirit is a giant focus at Shreeja India, Image credit: Shib Shankar

“The women stay inside social programs the place mother and father, siblings, and group members are usually not supportive of their schooling,” says Shib. “These harsh situations power them to consider that they’re able to nothing greater than the life they’re already main.”

Altering this notion has been a problem. 

For now, they’re on the way in which to difficult these notions, he provides. Together with this, they wish to infuse the soccer programme with data workshops, artwork, dance, drama, one-on-one steerage, and mentoring.

“These enrichment programmes will transfer the women past the odd behaviours into the realms of lively studying,” says Shib. 

He believes that Shreeja will quickly be a spot the place dialogue and dialogue will happen, not nearly soccer and lecturers, but additionally about group considerations.  

“Soccer built-in with lecturers generally is a highly effective automobile for empowering ladies and catalysing social change,” he opines. 

Edited by Divya Sethu



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