Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Holidays from Goal!

Dear followers - we wish you a joyous end to 2010 and a 2011 full of success, happiness, and of course, empowerment!

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Congratulations to the class of 2010!!!

December 10th was a special day for some of our Goal girls in Delhi. Over one hundred girls from Deepalava schools participated in their graduation ceremony after having successfully completed the Goal programme!

The ceremony saw girls from the Sanjay colony perform a play based on their Goal experiences and Karuna Bhatia from Standard Chartered Corporate Affairs gave each girl a certificate and a piggy bank to mark their graduation. Karuna said that she could feel that the girls' level of confidence had grown from doing the programme and encouraged the girls to stay in education and maybe even become a banker one day!

Bimla Pawar, Director of Sports for the Commonwealth Games, presided over the graduation ceremony, presenting two of our girls, Samar and Pinki, with their certificates. Both of these girls are now fully-fledged Goal Champions and can train Goal girls not only in netball, but in other lifeskills as well.

Bimla also gave a speech encouraging the Goal girls to not only continue playing netball, but also to try to persuade them to get their friends to join the Goal programme and learn the vital lifeskills that this programme teaches.

Our SCB volunteer, Rushika, was also honoured for all her hard work and participation in the programme over the past four months.

The day finished with a netball match between Sanjay colony and Kalkaji- Kalkaji ended up winning the closely fought match!

Congratulations to all our Goal graduates and good luck for the future!

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's almost the end of the year, and its around this time every year that I like to look back upon the year that has passed and reflect upon what I want to change for the future years to come. This year, I was incredibly lucky to intern with the Goal program from August to December in Delhi. It was without doubt the best part of my year, and probably one of the best couple of months I've had in my life! Before starting my internship, I had thought that the majority of my learning would happen in the office - learning the usual administrative skills etc... I can now confidently say I was completely wrong about that. I definitely learned plenty from the office, but the greatest lessons I learned were from the people I was lucky enough to meet in the last few months. These people include everyone from the amazing staff that puts their entire hearts into running Goal to, of course, the fantastic Goal girls themselves!

When I first started interacting with the girls, I thought it would be quite a challenge as we came from totally different backgrounds and there were many cultural differences. Instead, I found in the girls some of the most amazing, kindest, funniest girls, and now friends, that I've ever met. I was so surprised at how confident and friendly the girls were with everyone they met - much more than I've ever been when meeting someone for the first time! Just through staying with the girls, and watching them grow through the program - I found myself becoming so much stronger and self-confident. Hearing their stories, and the challenges they face from day to day - it was like a huge jolt to my brain in realization of just how lucky and fortunate I've been in my life. Some of the girls are the head of their household at 15, the amount of responsibilities they have at that age is heartbreaking and yet they come out twice a week with the greatest smiles to play and learn. I would find myself complaining sometimes when it took me more than an hour to get to work because of traffic etc... and then I would see the staff, some of who travel almost 3 hours six days a week to work (and never complain!) or the girls themselves who walk an hour just to attend the Goal sessions. At first I thought this courage, confidence, and generally fantastic attitude towards life might be an innate aspect of Indian culture. But as I stayed on and interacted with people outside the program, and even saw new girls being recruited to the program - I realized it was in large part due to Goal that these girls are growing into such amazing young women - and more importantly such fantastic human beings.

The tagline for Goal reads - Reaching New Heights. It's a lovely idea, but what does it actually mean? It's hard to fully understand and appreciate it till you see a girl - whose goal in life used to be to get married by 16. All of a sudden, this same girl, a couple of months later, says she now wants to study so she can become a teacher or a coach someday. And in front of your eyes you've just seen new heights being reached.

A huge thank you to everyone from Goal and to all reading this out there - Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Global Girl News

Lots of news to catch you guys up on!

Latest posts from Plan UK's 'Because I'm a Girl' blog:

Read Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson's piece on why they're supporting the US legislation to prevent child marriage here.

In a blow to women's and girls' right advocates everywhere, this bill failed to be passed in the House. Read why and some of the reactions to it here.

Carrying on with the child marriage issue, have posted an article about child marriage in Zambia.

The Guardian newspaper has a fascinating section on Development. It recently posted a round-up of UN-HABITAT's latest report on Cities and Health. Unsurprisingly, women's and girls' health and safety are disproportionately comprised by living in cities.

Also, check out the Poverty Matters blog on the Global Development section of the Guardian- lots of opinion pieces on the hottest topics in development policy and aid. There's a great podcast on that contentious question: Do celebrities have a role to play in development?

Even though World AIDS day has been and gone, I wanted to share a blog post powerfully written by a friend of mine on gender and HIV/AIDS. As she says, HIV/AIDS is not a question of personal choice and responsibility, it is firmly rooted in poverty, inequality and prejudice.

Plus, this whole website- Women's Views on News- is always a fascinating read for the latest women's news from around the world.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spotlight on One World Futbol

This week we're looking at a fantastic organisation called One World Fubtol.

Photo by Rory Earnshaw

Who are One World Futbol?

A football that can never be punctured, never goes flat, never needs to be pumped and can be played on all terrains- an impossible dream? Well, it's now a reality thanks to One World Futbol!

One World Futbol was inspired by the determination of children living in Darfur's refugee camps to play their favourite game no matter what, even if it meant making footballs out of trash. The creation of an indestructible football is allowing any child, anywhere in the world to enjoy playing football at any time.

Photo by Helmut Schleppi

These unique footballs are sold using the "Give One, Get One" model, so for every football sold, a second one will be donated by the One World Futbol project to a disadvantaged community. The not-for-profit foundation also distributes footballs through local NGOs, which serve people in refugee camps, conflict zones and communities in poverty around the world.

Photo by Ngueuliebou Frederic

The co-founder of One World Futbol, Tim Jahnigen, had this to say about the project: " The One World Futbol projects strives to improve the lives of youth and adults in disadvantaged communities worldwide by distributing an ultra-durable soccer ball to organisations on the ground in war zones, refugee camps, inner cities, and harsh environments for use in their work with communities in need."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Savings as Safety Nets

One of Goal's "New Year's Resolutions" for 2011 is to beef up the economic empowerment aspect of our programme. We have a lot of ideas on how to do this and will be using the year to research and conduct some pilots that give girls more than the tools they need to succeed - but the opportunities (and resources!) as well.

It's well-known that when women and girls have access to their own money, it creates a knock-on effect that ripples through their families and communities. So when we got this lovely note from Mary Ellen (a personal role model!) at Women's World Banking, one of the top organisations working in this space, we thought we should share it with you. And, as a bonus, Kashf Bank is a client of Standard Chartered. We're proud to help them support women like Syma.

SAVINGS: Creating Safety Nets for the Poor

December 2010

Dear Friends:

Lahore, Pakistan, is a city where even minor aspects of daily life create challenges for many people. Electricity is scarce, and the cost of sugar has doubled in the past year. For low-income women like Syma, it can be difficult to scrape together enough money to keep food on the table, much less save for upcoming expenses such as school fees or weddings.

Until recently, Syma’s only option to save money was to keep it in her home – where it was all too easy to spend – or with a neighbor, which meant a lack of privacy. In May 2010, with the support of Women’s World Banking, Kashf Microfinance Bank opened a savings kiosk in Syma’s neighborhood. The kiosk offers women like Syma a safe, convenient, and confidential place to save. Literacy rates are very low in Syma’s community, so account materials are picture-based to make it easy for Syma and her neighbors to understand how the account works.

Syma has been saving at the Kashf kiosk since May. “I’d like to continue this account for as long as I live,” she says. “At home you can’t save but once you deposit money here you can be assured it’s not going anywhere. I feel more financially independent and worry less about the future.”
Syma’s story is a powerful example of the efforts Women’s World Banking is making to build stronger microfinance institutions, expand products offerings beyond credit, and continue client research to better understand the needs of the poor women. I hope that Syma’s story will encourage you to join me in this endeavor by supporting our work today.

Illiteracy can be a major hurdle to financial education about the need for savings. WWB worked with Pakistan’s Kashf Microfinance Bank to introduced illustrated brochures so that even if a woman can’t read she can still manage a savings account.

WWB believes that the need for formal savings options is crucial: without them the poor are forced to keep cash at home or in informal savings groups which are risky and money can be lost. Our research shows that the poor save, generally in small amounts, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of their monthly income. Access to reliable savings products can help the poor reduce their vulnerability to major budget shocks, invest in the education of their children, and build assets that will see them through old age. Because women tend to shoulder the burden of saving in most poor households, a well-designed savings product can have significant empowerment benefits for women.

To motivate customers to save in the bank, Kashf launched a commitment savings account allowing customers to save for a particular goal, such as their children’s education and marriage and emergencies. In a time when we are all too familiar with the importance and necessity of having a savings safety net, I ask you to please give generously to help improve the lives of low-income women and their families.

Warm regards,

Mary Ellen Iskenderian

Friday, December 10, 2010

International Human Rights Day

Today is International Human Rights Day!

This is a chance to celebrate not only those who defend human rights around the world and fight to end discrimination, but it is also a chance to reflect on what human rights mean to you.

Human rights are very important to us here at Goal.

Part of being empowered is understanding and knowing your human rights: that's why rights education is included in the Goal's life skills programme which all our girls receive.

Knowing your rights can help you see discrimination and hopefully speak up against it. They can help you understand what kind of behaviour is acceptable and what isn't. Importantly, if you know your rights, you know what is wrong and can access the help needed to right that wrong.

But human rights don't just mean political or civil rights like the right to vote for example. They also emcompass socio-economic rights, like the right to an education, the right to work and the right to bodily integrity which means that no one has the right to harm you physically, sexually or psychologically.

Sexual and reproductive rights are also vital for Goal girls to learn about: knowing these rights is essential to ending gender-based violence and ensuring that the girls have equal and adequate access to sexual health clinics and maternal health care.

Wherever you are in the world today, make sure you take a couple of minutes to think about human rights. If you are privileged enough to enjoy human rights, think about what your life would be like if you couldn't access them and think about those people around the world who aren't able to exercise free speech, who don't have the right to own a property or access education. If you aren't aware of your rights then it's never too late to learn about them and start claiming them!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Updates from Goal Jordan

We asked Hala Al Zou`bi, our City Coordinator for Goal in Amman, to give us an update on what's happening with our Jordan launch. Here's what she's had to say so far:

I'm really glad to be part of the Goal project because it will not help the girls only in the short term (the period of the project), it will help them in the long term; in the way of dealing with their life, in the decision making process, in how to raise their kids in the future in how their kids will raise their kids and so on (as it will effect more than one generation).

Being part of this empowerment process is very amazing; helping girls and leading them to take and lead their lives in an open minded thinking to take the right choices, teaching them how to think how to take care of themselves.

At first I was very excited when I start reading the project (because all of the benefit which will affect the life's of the girls) but when I moved to the next step which was to choose the establishments to implement the project I was like flying from happiness as I notice the big smile which were painted in the faces of the managers which I explained the Goal project to and I felt more happy and excited when they told me that the girls in their areas are very marginalized and don’t have any one to lead them to the right way don’t have anything to fill their free time and that I'm bringing them the right project the project which will help them not just in the short run but in their whole life.

One of the sentences which I heard from the managers of the establishments and effect me and encouraged me the most is ''you are saving generations'' as it was the first sentence which the manager of Al Mansora Princess Basma Center told me after I finished explaining the project for her, actually the way and the excitement of her when she told me the sentence was just AMAZING !!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A note from Jordan

We are so excited to have Right to Play as our implementing partner for Goal in Jordan. They understand the power of sport to effect change more than anyone and we are so happy that they are on board. And (you heard it here first!), we'll soon be working with them in China as well.

Johann Olav Koss,  the President and Chief Executive Officer of Right to Play International, had a message for our readers:

Right To Play is delighted to have been chosen as a delivery partner for Standard Chartered Bank’s Goal programmes in Jordan and China. Goal is a fantastic initiative that focuses on advancing female social, emotional and economic empowerment by harnessing the power of sport and play. Working with some of the most marginalised young people in the world, Goal also aims to enhance girls’ self-confidence and knowledge of key health and social issues. It’s focus and approach aligns perfectly with Right To Play’s own and we are very excited to be involved in the Goal programme over the next three years.

Hear more from Johann on Twitter. Follow us too!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spotlight on Mifalot

Today we're returning to the theme of organisations that empower girls and young people through sports. This week's organisation is called Mifalot.

Important advances in contributing towards peace in the Middle East are being made by Mifalot. And the vehicle that is bridging the divides between 20,000 Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian children every year? Football.

By building bonds of friendship between children across religious, ethnic, cultural and political differences on the football field, Mifalot hopes that mutual respect and understanding is achieved off the field too.

Over 300 programmes in the region use football and educational activities to develop the skills and values that the children need to learn, grow and succeed in their community and the world.

The programmes reach out to those most in need: disadvantaged and socially marginalised children, new immigrants, refugees, and children with special needs. Social integration and, more importantly, acceptance of other ethnic groups are facilitated through the programmes. Gal Paleg, International Development Manager of Mifalot, describes Mifalot's vision as "capturing the power of football in order to build more active, compassionate, just and cohesive communities, and to promote peaceful coexistence in our immediate region and beyond.”

Mifalot’s invaluable work and programmes are also being adapted to help even more children in Rwanda, Cameroon and Haiti.

All that hard work over the past 13 years is paying off...

Mifalot and Hapoel Tel Aviv Football Club won “Sport Team of the Year” at this year’s Beyond Sports awards. Congratulations! Click here to read about other winners.

Click here to visit Mifalot's website.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Punitha's Progress

Goal participant Punitha is a 14 year old girl from Saidapet, a Goal site in Chennai. She hails from a challenged socio-economic background. She is the eldest and has two younger siblings. Her father is a ‘coolie ‘(daily laborer) and her mother works as a housemaid.

Seeing her family situation, she had always wanted to study well and get into to a good career to support her family financially. She has never played sports, and the first time when she heard the term ‘Netball’ it was something very new to her. Punitha was a very timid and soft spoken girl, but no more she is the same, she has gained confidence and had overcome her shyness.

“Usually girls do not play in the common play ground in our locality; I never thought that I would ever step into this ground to play. Whenever I would cross this playground in our community, I would think to myself - ‘Can I ever go and play inside this area?’ But now, I just can’t believe that it has become a reality!” says Punitha.

Going to school and helping her mother with household chores was all that she thought she can do and should do being a girl. She longer has this attitude, after joining Goal, her perspective of being a girl has changed.

“After being a part of this Goal Program, I learnt that sports can also be a channel to identify my goal and ambition and work towards it”, says Punitha.

Punitha wants to learn to use a computer and aspires to become a doctor. She feels that the Goal sessions are very useful and it’s a great opportunity for girls like her as it improves skills.

Camfed: Every Child Belongs on School

Today Camfed (an organisation we really rate) is launching “Every Child Belongs in School”, a campaign about the injustice of educational exclusion. Each week during the next month, they will be showcasing a short film about a child who is unable to attend school. Produced by an award-winning team of filmmakers, the films raise awareness about the fact that millions of children around the world are deprived of the one thing that will help them escape poverty: an education.

Sisters from Camfed on Vimeo.

Their goal this Christmas season is to send 1000 children like Afisha back to school so that they can once again view their futures with hope and excitement. Think about supporting Camfed today!

Monday, November 29, 2010

ISKCON Midday Meals at Goal

The Goal site at Aali Gaon, Delhi, has a new reason to rejoice! A new initiative, spearheaded by new Goal Delhi coach Pooja Rawat and Goal Delhi Co-ordinator Jaya Tiwari, with the ISKON foundation's food relief program, is providing midday meals to the Goal girls of Aali after each Goal session!

A huge thanks to the Director of Iskcon Food Relief Center at Aali Vihar, Mr. Shyam Govind Das, for providing this fantastic opportunity for our Goal girls! The Iskcon Food Relief - Midday Meal Program works to providing children in school with a Midday Meal. As their website states:

ISKCON FOOD RELIEF FOUNDATION, has resolved to liberate the underprivileged by feeding the poor with sanctified and nutritious food.

In just three years since it was founded, the program has scaled to provide over 1,00,000 hygienic and nutritious meals every day through an extremely cost-effective program. MIDDAY MEAL has demonstrated and is now showcased as an operating model that can strategically address two of the most pressing problems for poor children in India : hunger and education.

To many of our children, the MIDDAY MEAL is the only complete meal that they have access to during the entire day. This has produced dramatic results in terms of enrolment, attendance, and attention spans.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sanjay Colony Shows Off!

Last week, the Goal girls of Sanjay Colony, Delhi, got the chance to show off in front of several Standard Chartered Bank representatives. Jamie Dundas, Non-Executive Director of Standard Chartered PLC, accompanied by Neeraj Swaroop, CEO of SCB India, and several other SCB staff from Mumbai and Delhi came to the Sanjay Colony site to spend some time with the Goal girls.

The girls presented a play to their visitors highlighting the story of a Goal girl, from the challenges she faces to her successes and finally overcoming the odds and becoming a Goal champion! Some "real-life" Goal champions from Aali Gaon and Sanjay Colony then shared their own experiences with Goal.

Then of course, it was time for a round of netball! Mr. Dundas and Mr. Swaroop even joined in for a couple of shots towards the end!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Spotlight on Kolkata Sanved- Saving Lives Through Dance

This week's organisation that empowers girls and women is Kolkata Sanved. We're departing from our usual sports empowerment theme to focus on an organisation that uses dance as a form of therapy and empowerment.

Kolkata Sanved is a breath of fresh air for the people who this unique organisation helps. The women and children who come to Kolkata Sanved have suffered horrific and unimaginable abuse and violence: traditional methods of counselling and therapy aren’t always effective enough.

Since 2004, Kolkata Sanved has been using dance to aid the recovery of victims of abuse, violence and trafficking, mental health patients, children living with HIV or AIDS and children living in slums.

Every year, 2,500 women, girls and boys, are reached through its dance classes and workshops.

Through the medium of dance, Kolkata Sanved teaches vulnerable and troubled women and children to express their experiences and feelings.

What’s more, this form of dance therapy can turn around a person’s negative body image and attitude; it also empowers the participants to be creative artists in their own right. As Sohini Chakraborty, Founder of Kolkata Sanved says: “Not only does the process of Dance Movement Therapy bring about positive changes in mind, body and spirit, it also enables the women, children and youth to interact with mainstream society on an equal footing.”

However, Kolkata Sanved’s interventions don’t stop there. Public performances and awareness-raising campaigns mean that another 5,000 people a year are reached.

By making more people aware of the exploitation and suffering experienced by Kolkata Sanved’s participants, it is hoped that the government will start to make policy changes on health, trafficking, prostitution, education and HIV/ AIDS.

The response and success rate of this programme has been so fantastic that is has been launched in other parts of rural and urban India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Click here to visit the website and read more about this organisation's exciting and innovative work.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Great piece on Goal India

Many thanks to The Alternative for this great profile on Goal in India.

Go Girl!
Aarti Mohan, Prerna Seth, 24 Nov 2010

Netball gives these young girls a better chance at life

It is 2’0 clock in the afternoon. The sun blazes down the open space of a near empty and dusty Barat ground in the village of Aali, close to the Delhi-Badarpur border. Sixteen year old Sarita cycles in through the gate, brimming with confidence, a bright smile on her face. She enjoys singing and sports; she wants to be a 'player' when she grows up. Sarita joins the rest of the ‘gang of girls’ , all dressed demurely in salwar kurtas; cheers and screams renting the air as they chase the ball down the ground in wild abandon. Welcome to a training class on HIV, sexuality education and health! Keep reading...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Seeing is Believing at Goal

October saw a fine collaboration between two of Standard Chartered Bank’s CSR initiatives: Seeing is Believing and Goal. In celebration of World Sight Day, the ‘Seeing is Believing’ Programme organized an Eye Camp at the Goal Program’s Hamara foundation site in Mumbai on the 27th of October.

The camp was organized at the KK marg municipal school in Mumbai Central. 3 staff from the KBH.Bachooali Charitable Opthalmic & E.N.T Hospital screened 75 people over a period of 3 and half hours. A large gathering of people waited patiently for their turn.

The Goal girls were very excited to get their eyes tested. This camp also gave their family members a wonderful opportunity that they wouldn't have been able to get anywhere else. It was extremely gratifying to see many aged people come in to get their eyes tested.

25 of the community members have recommended a follow up visit at the eye hospital for more in depth testing and intervention. 17 people were prescribed spectacles and it was interesting to see them go through the frames and select the right one!

Sunil Pardeshi father of Goal participant Priyanka has to say: “It was wonderful to see so many people - young and old from my community turn up to get their eye’s tested at the eye camp organized at the local school. If it had not been for the camp so many of us would not have known that we had problems with vision! I too was prescribed spectacles!! Most of these people cannot afford to get tested from private hospitals and the free checkup was truly beneficial.”

Goal Champion Vandana’s mother Nanda says “Whenever we have a health problem we tend to ignore it and are too lazy to get it checked out. However, this time the eye camp was conducted right at our door step and we all went and get our eyes tested!

Many more people have eye problems and more such camps will be useful.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spotlight on Play31

I've got another great sports empowerment organisation to profile for you this week: Play31!

Who are Play31?

Working primarily in Sierra Leone, Play31 uses the power of football to heal broken communities and create peace in regions torn apart by violent conflict.

It was named after Article 31 in the UN Convention on the Rights of Children that enshrines the right to play for all children the world over; it is Play31's mission to make this human right a reality.

As Jakob Lund, Play31 Director says: "By facilitating community gatherings and donating footballs, we contribute to the creation of peaceful societies where children can exercise their right to play."

What do they do?

Two years ago, a pilot project in post-conflict Sierra Leone set out to reconcile communities through football. Former combatants, victims, civilians and witnesses from over a hundred villages were brought together through the tournaments organised by Play31.

Play31's approach is simple but effective. It provides children living in conflict and post-conflict regions with footballs and it also helps to set up community tournaments.

By taking these steps with local NGOs, Play31 hopes that peaceful relationships between the players and amongst the spectators can be built, as well as establishing mutual respect both on and off the pitch.

Football allows people to put their differences aside and set out on the path to peace.

Play31 hopes to spread the message of joy and peace through football to other countries in the coming years.

Click here to visit Play31's website.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

10,000 Girls

I’ve just come across this education programme called 10,000 Girls. It's in Senegal and gives girls the support that they need to be successful during and after school. Watch their video to find out more on 10,000 Girls...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Standard Chartered Volunteers Shine

Over the last couple of months in Delhi, volunteers from Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) branches all over Delhi have taken time out from their busy days to volunteer to teach, play with, and learn from our Goal girls.

In the past couple of weeks, SCB volunteers have conducted financial literacy for the girls at different sites. For many of the girls whose parents may not ever have had a bank account, the lessons taught by the staff are invaluable. An integral part of delivering these financial literacy modules includes a visit to a Standard Chartered bank office by the girls.

Over the last few weeks over a 100 girls from Goal sites around Delhi were taken to different SCB branches to learn from some of the employees about how the bank works and what role banking could play in their lives. All the visits were accompanied by fantastic presentations from the bank staff about the importance of banking, the different roles of the bank, how a bank account can be opened, and finally how an ATM works. For many of the girls who had never seen an ATM machine, let alone actually withdrawn money from one, it was an amazing experience. Not only did the girls get the chance to see how a bank works, but they got to interact with Bank employees and understand a whole new spectrum of employment.

Some pictures from the visits:

Sumitra, a Goal participant from Sanjay Colony, said of the Financial Literacy sessions: "It's the first time someone is talking to me about money and my own responsibility of saving. I used to think this was only the duty of my parents!"

A huge thanks to all the SCB employees who made these visits for the girls so special and such a success. Without people like Meenakshi Dhanda, organizing and co-ordinating logistics for the visits, or Mansi Khandelwal's taking time to take the girls so enthusiastically through the banks, or Bank Managers like Shishir who kindly welcomed the girls into their banks, the girls would never have been able to take part in such an invaluable life experience! A huge thanks to Rajiv Mehrotra and Amrita Aggarwal for their massive efforts in co-ordinating with Goal over the last few months in providing SCB staff with the time and resources to interact with the Goal girls (and vice versa!)

These sessions and visits are just a small portion of the work that has been carried out by SCB volunteers in the last couple of months. SCB volunteers have gone above and beyond in their sessions with the girls. In Aali Gaon, where SCB staff hold weekly English sessions for the girls, the employees collected donations within their branches to provide the Goal girls of Aali with a small sitting mat, a water bottle, two registers and stationary.

A huge thanks from the whole Goal team to SCB volunteers all over Delhi for all their efforts in the last few months and here's to hoping these efforts can continue to make huge differences in the lives of these Goal girls!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spotlight on Seema

    Growing up in a family with 3 older brothers, Seema Singh, 13 years old, grew up in her brothers shadows. When Seema heard about girls playing netball in her village, she couldn’t believe it. She had never heard of girls playing sports before! She was so enamored after she saw a Goal session, that she begged her older brother for permission to join the program. He refused and told her to stay at home, telling her there’s no use in a girl who can run around and play. Seema refused to give up so easily and asked the Goal staff to help persuade her brother. Her brother begrudgingly agreed, saying he was only allowing it because Seema would end up quitting anyways. Today, almost a year later, Seema’s brother is the first in the family to rush Seema off for her Goal sessions.

    Before joining Goal, Seema had never attended school. She had never even thought about going to school or anything in her future besides marriage. Seema had never interacted with girls her age before coming for the program. When she talks about the friends she’s made through Goal, her eyes light up as she says that “my team mates are like the sisters I’ve always wanted!” Seeing the other girls in Goal, many of whom are in school, Seema was motivated to join school and now she proudly attends a nearby Government school.

    When she first came for the program, Seema admits she had never thought about her own hygiene or the way she dressed. After seeing the Goal coaches and talking with other girls in the program, Seema started dressing and cleaning herself. Seema says that before her hygiene lessons from Goal, she would never properly clean herself while bathing as she thought it was wrong and dirty, but after understanding how necessary it was to keep your body clean she now religiously maintains her cleanliness.

Seema on her experience with Goal:

“Before joining Goal, I was shy, I never had any confidence and I was scared of speaking to people. After coming here and making so many friends, and seeing the way my coaches play and teach, I have become such a strong person and I feel so proud of myself. I never thought of doing anything in the future, but I now have dreams. I want to become a Goal Champion, I want to study and become a teacher or a coach.”

“Playing netball makes me happier than everything. I have become so healthy and so fit from exercising that my brothers also now want to play and exercise. My brothers and my family look at me with new respect and tell me that I will do something with my life. When I went outside Aali for the first time to play a match, I came back home and told my family about how we won and my family was so proud that my brother took me out and bought me a new dress for the first time!”

“When I am chosen to go outside my village and play, I feel like I am worth something. I have never seen such things before; I never thought I would get a chance to see such big people and such beautiful things. When I see the way my coaches and teachers talk to such big people, I feel very proud and feel maybe I also can become like my coaches one day!”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spotlight on Empowering Women of Nepal

It's Thursday and that means it's time for another profile of an organisation that empowers women and girls!

This week it's Empowering Women of Nepal's turn.

Who are they?

In the male-dominated trekking and adventure tourism industry, Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN) is making great strides towards gender equality.

The Chhetri sisters, Lucky, Dicky and Nicky have created two organisations: EWN, an NGO dedicated to women’s empowerment, and 3 Sisters Trekking, a company of female trekking guides working in the Himalayas.

Their work is knocking down social and religious barriers that confine women to the home and is opening up a new world of possibilities to disadvantaged Nepalese women!

What do they do?

EWN trains women from all over the country to become a trekking guide.

This life-changing training is free, plus the women get free accommodation, food and trekking equipment. There’s another big incentive too: after the first month’s training, the women embark on a paid apprenticeship which helps to empower them economically.

This innovative programme offers practical life, survival and trekking skills like map reading, first aid and trip planning.

It also teaches the women about the natural habitat around them and how take care of it, creating ecological awareness. EWN are making sure that the environment from which they are able to earn a living, the Himalayas, is protected for the next generation.
As EWN founder, Lucky Chhetri explains: “By offering opportunity, education, and practical skills training, we are instilling hope, courage, and confidence among the most deprived women and girls in Nepal. With access to opportunity and education, EWN trainees are transforming lives and improving livelihood.”

It’s great to see a women’s empowerment programme that responds so excellently to a gap in the tourism market and uses the local environment to change women’s lives!

Click here to read more about EWN's work.
Don't forget if you go to Nepal, you can explore the Himalayas with some of the only female trekking guides around!