Right next to the high-rise buildings and sprawling farm houses of Chhatarpur area in New Delhi, brews the dilapidated and neglected shanties of the Nut colony slum cluster. The majority population here is either engaged in their traditional community occupation of singing and playing drums, or making paper flowers and selling trinkets by road-sides.
When Swabhiman was first initiated in the community, it was perceived as no more than a wasted effort, with the men opposed to sending their wives and daughters for awareness sessions, trainings and workshops. Slowly, but steadily, the Swabhiman team set out to turn this tide. They started conducting door-to-door visits and counseling families, making the male members of the community aware of the importance of women empowerment. With help of regular street plays, celebration of relevant days, and group meetings, sensitization on education, health and rights of girl children and women was conducted.
Today, the men and women in the community stand together in support of the programme. Every week a mobile hospital visits the community with the aim of providing mothers and children from the community free access to primary healthcare services. In addition, stand alone health camps with special services by pediatricians and gynecologists are also conducted as required to take care of their specific health needs. Health talks by experts are a regular feature of the project, to keep the women updated on vital RCH issues.
Exceptional girl children from the community were identified and provided scholarship support to complete their education. Their parents are also regularly counseled so that they encourage their daughters to pursue their dreams in life. The girls are further given relevant exposure and life skills training to ensure their over-all development. These girls have become peer influencers and are spreading the change further among their families, friends and neighbors.
Swabhiman health volunteers and community health educators have been appointed from within the community, along with “male change agents” – husbands, fathers, brothers who have become the face of the movement and are leading by example. With the consolidated efforts of the Swabhiman team and the community, the wheels of change have been set in motion, and the results are highly encouraging.
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