New Delhi - October - December 2002
Technical Institute Inaugurated
Gusbethi, 5 December 2002. It is a crisp winter day and the red brick building is beaming in the sunlight. The deep green leaves
of the tapioca plants at the background reflect the rural surroundings. The guests applaud as the Japanese diplomat Mr. Kido inaugurates the Technical Institute. In a few months time, this vocational training institute will be equipped, furnished and running.
The Technical Institute is situated in Deepalaya Gram, a project at some fifty kilometres from Delhi. Its construction is financed for a major part by a 97,000-dollar grant of the Japanese Embassy.
The institute's aim is to teach street children and village children relevant skills to become self-employed or get a skilled job. Vocational skills that will be imparted in the future are: Electrical and Appliance Repair; TV and Radio Repair; Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Mechanics; Tailoring and Dressmaking; Computer Skills; and Secretarial Practice.
Mr. Akira Kido, Second Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in New Delhi, officially inaugurated the Technical Institute by revealing an inaugural stone. Other guests who attended the inaugural function were: Dr. Akiko Ueda, Senior Researcher of the Japanese Embassy; Dr. Vinita Nagar of the Unniti Foundation; Mr. and Mrs. Palmer of Latter Day Saint Charities; Mr. A.K. Behl of the Sehgal Foundation; and Mr. Mohammad Israil of the Aravalli Foundation.
The boys from the street children home in Deepalaya Gram showed their artistic talents and performed for all the guests. Everyone was impressed by the quality of the performance by the children, who have been coached by their warden Ms. Alphonsa.
Education empowers women to change their lives
Research has proved that Deepalaya's work has a big impact. In the South Delhi slum of Gole Kuan it has improved the lives of many women. Nitya came to Gole Kuan slum twelve years ago after her marriage at the age of seventeen. She learnt tailoring through Deepalaya's vocational training programme. Now Nitya earns a monthly income that has enabled her family to build a permanent brick and cement home. "Without education, you cannot achieve anything," she says with conviction.
The educational and vocational training programme that Deepalaya started in 1989 in the Gole Kuan slum has definitely changed the lives of hundreds of women. This was the important finding of a study recently conducted by Ragini Saira Malhotra of the United Nations International School. The study found that despite religious and cultural barriers, the programme had impacted women's lives in two key ways: the number of women who started working and the attitude to the roles of men and women.
Levels of formal education were found to have increased among the younger generation, with many women having completed 10th grade. This has considerably enhanced their employment potential, especially in semi-skilled or professional jobs. In contrast, most women in the 45-49 age group were either uneducated or had not completed primary school.
Of the twenty-five interviewed women who were working, only one was an unskilled labourer. The rest were employed in (semi-) skilled jobs thanks to Deepalaya's vocational training programme. Twelve years ago, there were no working women at all.
What is even more encouraging is that the attitude of people towards educating women has changed. Of the total sample, 75 per cent believes in educating both men and women. Those denied education are determined to make it available to their children. One woman said: "Now that I am aware I won't discriminate between my children.
Education had made women from all age groups feel more empowered. According to the interviewed women, they have gained confidence, new knowledge to improve their living standards, and a happy future. As one of them puts it in short: "If I had been educated I could have achieved so much more!"
Dancing on Disability Day
Performing right in front of the world famous India Gate; not many people can claim they have done it. The children of our Special Unit have! On 3rd December, World Disability Day, the hearing impaired children from Sanjay Colony showed their dancing abilities on stage. Their audience was a mix of delegations from other NGOs who work in disability, and important guests like Delhi's Chief Minister Ms. Sheila Dixit. The evening before, our differently abled children had also performed successfully on a function organized by the Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People. On the morning of World Disability Day, Deepalaya's Chief Executive Mr. T.K. Mathew met India's President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. He was one of the fifty representatives of organisations working in disability. For an hour, the President and his guests discussed India's disability issues.
Swiss donate playground
On 12th November, Swiss Ambassador Dr. Walter Gyger inaugurated a unique playground at Deepalaya School Kalkaji Extension. Three international artists had designed the playground as a part of the worldwide project Playgrounds & Toys, initiated by the foundation "Art for The World". "Until now, the children only had an empty square where they could play. But from today onwards, they can play with these beautifully designed objects", says Deepalaya's Chief Executive Mr. T.K. Mathew.
The project Playgrounds & Toys was launched in 2000 at the Red Cross Museum in Geneva (Switzerland), inviting over 40 artists, architects and designers from all over the world to create new designs for playgrounds and educational toys. In January 2002, the first playground was built in Greece. The second playground is the one at Deepalaya School in Delhi, created by artists from the USA, Brasil and Switzerland.
Girls demonstrate against female foeticide
On the occasion of Girl Child Day on 24th September, Deepalaya organized a silent demonstration by a thousand girl children to protest against the growing cases of female foeticide in Delhi. They carried black banners and black placards and wore black ribbons to underline their message. The demonstration was near the posh South Delhi colony Hauz Khas. According to recently released figures of the National Census of India, this colony shows the lowest sex ratio of the Capital with only 841 females per 1000 males! Female foeticide (the killing of female foetuses) is thought to be one of the main reasons for this.
Renowned social activist Ms Nafisa Ali attended the demonstration and had a dialogue with many of the girls present. Reporters from all the major national newspapers and television channels covered the protest
Auction raises 5 lakhs
The software company Sapient recently organized a unique event to raise funds for Deepalaya: a silent auction. Sapient employees donated 150 items and services (from dancing lessons to the director offering to wash your car) for the auction. The management matched every rupee earned in the auction, thereby doubling the overall donation amount. The result of the auction was fantastic: the total amount raised added up to 5 lakhs rupees (500,000)! Sapient donated Rs 50,000 for the playground at our street children home in Gusbethi. The remaining funds have been deposited in Deepalaya's Education Corpus Fund. The annual interest of this fund takes care of the sponsorship of eight children in Deepalaya projects. Thanks Sapient!
Minister awards boy
On 1st December, World AIDS Day, Indian Health Minister Mr. Shatrughan Sinha awarded Sadanad, a youth in Deepalaya's AIDS Awareness Project, as best peer educator. Peer educators are young people who raise awareness on an issue among people in their age group. The award was given during an AIDS event organized by the Delhi Government.
Before this event, Deepalaya had organized a rally at Kela Godown, the huge banana warehouse in North Delhi where many youths work as head loaders. Deepalaya staff and peer educators distributed leaflets to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS. This rally was followed by a street walk and street play in Central Delhi, near the shopping area Connaught Place.
Paintings for sale
From 19th November to 2nd December, Deepalaya took part in an art exhibition-cum-sale in the renowned India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. With some other NGOs, Deepalaya exhibited paintings made by our school students and children from our Special Unit. Besides that, we showed works made by famous artists during the Deepalaya workshop Rang Arpan ("Donation of Colours" in Hindi), which was held in January 2001. The funds raised by the art sales will be used to stimulate the artistic development of our students.
Deepalaya children once again proved they are no less than their counterparts of elite public schools. They outshone their peers at various competitions in the city. Children from Deepalaya School Kalkaji Extension participated in a choreography competition of the British School and stood second of the thirteen participating schools. Pupils from Deepalaya School Sanjay Colony won twenty-two prizes (eight first, nine second and five third prizes) in three drawing and dance competitions!
Seeing is believing. That is why Deepalaya always welcomes visitors to its projects. In the last couple of months, we had the pleasure of welcoming many guests from India and abroad. Top managers of the Belgian company TeleAtlas came to see how the money donated by their employees' foundation "To The Heart" was utilized in the school of Deepalaya Gram, Gusbethi. A delegation of the European Parliament visited Deepalaya School Kalkaji Extension, just as a delegation of the Rotary Club of Delhi South Metropolitan. Ms. Annet Smits of the Dutch funding agency ICCO was impressed by Deepalaya's work in the Delhi slums. The new director of VSO India, Mr. Kevan Moll, and VSO trustee Ms. Arvinda Gohil, were equally positive about their visit.
Alumni get together
On Sunday 20th October, some 175 members of the Deepalaya Alumni Associations of both Sanjay Colony and Kalkaji Extension Schools got together for an 'Alumni Day'. What all these boys and girls have in common is that they have studied in Deepalaya schools and want to stay in touch with each other.
For the best part of the day, the alumni and Deepalaya staff members enthusiastically participated in sports competitions and cultural programmes. They showed their talents and had a great time together.
Alumni in the Spotlight
"My name is Balram Kurwar. I have recently joined the Indian Navy and I'm very proud of that! This wouldn't have been possible without my education in Deepalaya School and the support I got from my sponsor parent Mr. G.S. Khanna.
I come from a family of six. We live in South Delhi and my father is a watchman. I have read in Deepalaya School till class VII. I didn't want to change my school, but because it's not recognized I had to. I passed Xth and XIIth at another senior secondary school, and later started my graduation but then I was selected for the Navy.
I have enjoyed my time in Deepalaya School very much - the teachers were extremely helpful and kind-hearted and they equipped me with many extra-curricular activities. I got the chance to gain a lot of knowledge, to develop my personality and to learn about the outside world. I even got the chance to travel by airplane and visit Holland, which was unbelievable!"
Letter to the editor
To the boys of Gusbethi Home
I wanted to thank you for welcoming me during my visit and making me share some of your joy and concerns. I wish all of you the best in life; you deserve it more than anyone else! I hope to be back to India soon and to visit Gusbethi again. In the meantime I send you my best wishes and all my thanks for the happy moments I spent with you in Gusbethi,
I recently got an opportunity to visit Deepalaya Gram in Gusbethi, a place where Deepalaya has set up integrated care for street children. It was quite a touching and moving experience for me. I was almost in tears to observe that they are really children of a lesser God, who have literally nothing to own or survive - while there are people like us who always feel short of material things in life, despite being blessed with almost everything. I am honestly impressed by the efforts of Deepalaya staff, who are doing their best with great "every little drop counts" feelings! Warm regards,
Friend of Deepalaya