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!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Our Common Wealth(s)

A couple of months ago, Anjali and Sonali Mishra (yes, they're sisters!), two of our Goal champs from New Delhi, were invited to volunteer for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. You read about their experiences volunteering during some Netball test events at Thygaraj Stadium, and now you can read about their experiences during the CWG 2010!

Anjali: "I was part of the Technical Officials for Netball. The best part, by far, was getting to watch the netball matches! I had never seen such level of sport before. It was so amazing to see how much hard work and passion each of the players puts in to their game. I only realize now that it is impossible to get anywhere without hard work. It's made me want to run on the field and practice my game as much as possible! Seeing the final match between New Zealand and Australia, especially after interacting with so many of the players beforehand, was definitely the best moment of my life!!"

Sonali: "I was a volunteer at the Sports Information Desk. I was really lucky because this meant I was able to interact with teams from all over the world. I never even knew there were so many countries in the world, especially that so many countries and so many people play netball! Apart from interacting with the teams and getting to watch such fantastic matches, my favorite memory is all the friends I made. I never would have gotten a chance to meet so many new people if not for this opportunity, I learned so much from everyone I met!"

When asked what their family thinks about their Commonwealth stint, both sisters look at each other and laugh. Sonali speaks up and says "Our parents are so proud of us. But they have made it very clear that next time they want us to be the ones on the court winning the medals!"

Friday, November 5, 2010

News from Nigeria!

What with all the great blog posts on our Goal girls in India, it is high time that we posted some of the fantastic stories coming out of Goal in Nigeria!

Football is the sport of choice amongst the Goal girls in Nigeria, and Standard Chartered has been working with local NGO, the Youth Empowerment Foundation, to bring football, life and survival skills to over 230 girls in Lagos and Abuja.

This project has even caught the attention of a national newspaper in Nigeria, the Vanguard.

What kind of things is Goal doing in Nigeria?

Goal is not only improving the girls' football skills, but it is also helping some of them learn how to read and write, and teaching them about financial literacy.

The girls are being empowered to become whoever they want in life- even if it is a professional footballer playing for her country!

Peer education is also an important part of this project: the girls pass on what they learn in their weekly training sessions to their friends and family, so another 3,000 people are reached as a result!

Mrs. Iwalola Akin-Jimoh, Executive Director, YEF, has described the impact of the Goal programme as "tremoundous. . . these girls can now work as a team and have learnt that it is only as a good team player that they can become good leaders. They know those qualities they want to see in a leader and we are working with them towards acquiring some of these qualities. . . this initiative has come to stay."

Check out this article in the Vanguard to read more about Goal in Nigeria.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spotlight on PLAY SOCCER

Every week I will be posting a profile of an organisation that empowers children and young people through sport. All of our followers out there will be able to read about the amazing work being done around the world to help young people, so don't forget to check in each week for a new profile!

And if you have an organisation for me to write about, then get in touch here.

First up this week: PLAY SOCCER

A soccer revolution has been sweeping through Cameroon, Malawi, Zambia, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa for the past nine years...

PLAY SOCCER has been bringing its unique programme that combines football, health and social skills to over 40,000 children throughout the African continent.

What do they do?

In PLAY SOCCER’s year-long programme, boys and girls (aged 5-15) learn to play soccer together.

In that time, not only do the children learn soccer skills, but they also focus on health issues like nutrition, good hygiene, malaria and HIV prevention, and social skills like teamwork and fair play.

As Judy McPherson, CEO and Chair of PLAY SOCCER explains, "PLAY SOCCER's holistic program goes beyond the game, weaving physical, health and social skills into a fun, activity-based curriculum.”

And the best part of this programme is that the skills acquired by the children in the weekly training sessions can be transferred to other parts of their lives- at school, at home and in their local community!

Even the coaches are local volunteers. PLAY SOCCER trains young adults to teach the programme and also equips them with the skills they need to find paid employment and become valuable members of their community.

PLAY SOCCER is empowering children and young people at grassroots level to make a real difference in local communities!

And judging by the faces of the children below, they're having a great time learning all these new skills!

To learn more about PLAY SOCCER's work click here.