Category Archives: Youth Empowerment Program

Think beyond your boundaries – Swati

We recently caught up with one of our students who completed Level 2 English with Reality Gives last year. We are super proud of Swati as she has been selected to go to Paris as part of the YAKA Foundation (YES Academy) Cultural Exchange Program.

Swati shared her story with us before flying off to Paris:

“When did you join RGi?”

Swati: “I joined in February 2018”

“What did you study with RGi?”

Swati: “I studied English Level 2 with Nazia”

“How has studying with Reality Gives helped you?”

Swati: “It has helped a lot, I did most of my studies in Marathi medium so although I spoke a little English, I didn’t have much confidence. Studying English With Reality Gives improved my ability to speak in English and therefore my confidence also improved. Nazia was always very supportive as a teacher, she would only allow us to speak in English which pushed us to learn more quickly.

“What has your experience with Reality Gives been like?”

Swati: “My experience with Reality Gives has been really good, I always tell my friends and family that they should also study English with this NGO. I have previously completed English courses elsewhere and found it very difficult to learn English, it didn’t help but as soon as I came here, I learnt English quickly. Reality Gives is the strongest platform for students like us from Dharavi.”

“Tell us about your opportunity to go to Paris?”

Swati: “I spent 40 days in Galtare as part of a cultural exchange program with French Students from the YAKA Foundation (YES Academy). During my time here we spent a lot of time comparing different cultures from all aspects which was really interesting.

Following this I completed an application form to describe my experience on this program and my future ambitions.”

“Why do you think you were chosen?”

Swati: “I was very committed during the 40 days I spent in Galtare and very involved in the program. I was also on time every day and shared my opinions openly with the other students as I felt this important.

I am really excited about going but I am actually very short on time to get ready.”

“What are you hoping to get out of the visit to Paris?”

Swati: “I am hoping to learn a lot about the culture in France and see the difference in technology as I find this really interesting. I also am looking forward to seeing all the difference with things such as bathrooms, food, fashion, hair styles, trains, cleanliness, pollution, their mindset and thinking, approach towards relationships and Governmental policies and reforms which make life easier there.”

“What advice would you give to other RGi students?”

Swati: “Be punctual, be involved and put in effort. It is not only the teacher’s responsibility for the learning of the student, it is an equal partnership between both student and teacher.

To learn English, you must speak in English only, even if at first you make mistakes this is the best way to learn. Think beyond your boundaries; I have been wanting to go abroad since I was 10 years old and now it is happening. My father’s dreams for me have always been big; he is my motivator and role model in life and doesn’t feel I should have any limits to what I do.

I’m 32 and in my community many girls marry at a young age, as young as 14 and do not have a career but my father encouraged me to have bigger dreams.”

“What are your future ambitions / goals?”

Swati: “I am currently learning yoga, I completed Level 1 in December 2018 and am hoping to complete my exam to become a yoga teacher i. e. Level 2 in December 2019. I am very health aware, so I do yoga for physical fitness and meditation for mental fitness.

I am also currently preparing for my Law Studies entrance exam. I need to complete an application for my entrance exam as I want to study to become a lawyer. My aim is to serve my community in the future with legal matters and law is the tool that will facilitate this.”

[Interview] How a Recent YEP Graduate’s Trip to a Rural Village Changed The Way They Think About Dharavi and Inspired Change

Recently, Kaveri and Hasnain, two graduates from our Youth Empowerment Program  joined youth from the French NGO Global Potential for a four day leadership course in our partner village, Chinchoti.

Global Potential is an 18 month leadership and entrepreneurship program for youth from underserved communities. A key aspect of their program is a 45 day service-learning project in a rural village. During the month and a half immersion, program participants learn from local youth and cultures, carry out internships, and support community projects in health, environment, education, and media.

This year, they came to India for the first time to explore potential partnerships and partner villages with our co-founder Krishna. They also took the opportunity to host the leadership course with their students, and invited Kaveri and Hasnain along too!

Upon their return we sat with Kaveri to reflect on her time away from Dharavi.

Continue reading [Interview] How a Recent YEP Graduate’s Trip to a Rural Village Changed The Way They Think About Dharavi and Inspired Change

[Interview] “It Is A New Life, I Made New Friends And I Got A New Chance Here”

Vijaya Kumari, 33, is a recent graduate of our Youth Empowerment Program (YEP). As a mother of three and having only had the opportunity to study until 8th Standard, we sat down with Viji to understand some of the story which led her to enroll.

Viji’s journey with Reality began when her daughter saw a pamphlet (distributed by Reality staff amongst the communities we serve in Dharavi). Her daughter convinced her to enroll, telling her it would help children with their homework (all attend schools where the curricula are taught in English) and give her confidence in communicating with all kinds of people. She tells us, “education is the most important. My children want to be educated; they have dreams. For them to complete their dreams, that’s why I work hard for them”.

[Interview] “Go Kiss the World”

In February we sat down to interview several students who had just begun our Youth Empowerment Program to understand their motivations for joining the program and discuss hopes and aspirations for where it might lead.

Now, two months later we caught up with Hajira (who is currently two months into the program) and Shabana (a recent graduate) to take time out to reflect on how the program had changed them and the ways in which they were developing and learning.

Continue reading [Interview] “Go Kiss the World”

“You believe in me and I will be the best thing”

On 6th February, 2014, 31 new students became the 25th and 26th groups to participate in the Youth Empowerment Program held at the Reality Gives Community Centre in Dharavi. This program spans 15 weeks, with students studying English, Computers and Soft Skills.

One week into the program, some of the students sat down with us to share what had motivated them to join the course and where they hope it can lead them in the future. As many of their stories are deeply personal, some of the YEP students interviewed have had their names changed to protect their identity.

Attending the morning class are Afia and Kiran. Kiran is an aspiring DJ and Afia, a housewife. “My mother died in my birth and father re-married. My stepmother doesn’t care for me so I have to work in the morning to earn money and work in the evening too” explains Kiran. “I have all to do the household work also. She does not take care myself”. When asked why he was so motivated to attend this program when he was already so busy he replied “I look up to my uncle. He struggled. He has inspired me. I want a family and I want a better life for them than myself. I will struggle to do better and this will help me achieve something. I want to become a good person who can speak with any person. To be confident to speak with him or her”.

Afia, 23 is also from a complex family background, having had a ‘love’ marriage into a family that does not like her, something she says has been exacerbated by her not having had a child within the first four years of marriage. “I want to improve how they see me and impress, earn their respect. I think this (Youth Empowerment Program) will help me get some work and be important to the family. I too want to improve my English so I can teach my son and daughter”. Afia is currently living with her mother and will join her husband’s family in a few months. “My husband would not allow me to come here – but I am not telling him” Afia confides “After 3 months I will show him how I can speak English. I want him to be proud of me”.

Nusrah and Isa attend the afternoon class. Through the translation of Jyoti, the Community Centre Manager, Nusrah (22) shared how she has battled to recover from cancer in recent years and revealed that as she does not have a brother she wants to make her parents happy; to be independent and to “stand on her feet like a man”. “My parents didn’t want me to come here for my health. I wanted. I feel like I have an opportunity. After a long time I am studying again. This is the best decision for myself” an emotional Nusrah said, “I want to impress my father after finishing this course and talk to him in English. I want to work in a hospital – for four or five years I was always going there. I understand the feelings of the people and want to do something for them. I want to encourage them. I have come out of cancer. I want to give them hope”.

Isa (23) has a good level of English but feels that it is not good enough to compete with well educated, privately schooled students, “Being in the slum area, I don’t get good companies and good chances”. Isa shared that she really had to fight to attend the classes, “being a muslim girl nobody allows you to study further but my mum has been supportive. Inside I have a lot of pain. My mum is uneducated and has suffered at her in-laws house. She wants me to stand independently. I have two brothers but she treats me as an equal. She trusts me a lot but I want to show her that I can meet her expectations. I want to show her – you believe in me and I will be the best thing” her hope is “My mother will be proud. We should not think like we are poor we cannot do anything. Go and try your luck. I am searching for a good job. Good English will help me get a good job in customs and HR”

As well as learning the syllabus, the students are also already beginning to form an important support network with one another. One student explained “Everyone has a different problem. No one is here from a good background. We are low level and struggling and it encourages us to study and learn and we will do anything. Now I feel like we all have different problem and we have to tackle jointly. Different stories from different people. Everyone has a problem but it helps us be happy to share them. We can support”.

The Reality Gives blog will revisit Isa, Nusrah, Afia, Kiran and some of the other YEP students as they progress through the program to see how they are developing and what their prospects are for the future.