Its something that I have always wanted to do, and I finally got the chance to do this year.
The experience definitely left a lasting impression. I made a lot of new friends, learned a lot and hopefully managed to create a teeny tiny bit difference in the world.
Voice4Girls, the NGO I volunteered for, focuses on training young girls about health, safety, future planning and their rights. They used to conduct their training camps in residential schools but have now ventured into holding separate training camps in rural India. They distribute their own specially created textbooks, curated to spread awareness among the young girls. These training camps are taught by counselors, who are students from all over India, and have volunteered to be a part of this work. They can be students, graduates or even women who are taking a break from their work life. The camps usually last for 7-20 days, depending on the number of students and batches. You can find more information about them here- Voice4Girls Website.
I attended the camp as a counselor, and it took place in a rural part of Uttar Pradesh (a place I had never heard of before), called Jais. The camp was organized with the help of Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Prayojna (RGMVP)- a program of the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust, aimed at reducing poverty, working towards women empowerment and rural development since 2002. Their main training center was located in Jais, so that’s where all the 11 counselors from across India went for their 4 day training, before being shipped off to various locations across Uttar Pradesh. I was lucky and got appointed at Jais itself, while my new friends were assigned to Varnasi, Rae Bareily, Amethi, Shahjahanpur, Gorakhpur, Jhansi and Banda.
The camp was for 14 days, split into 7 days each for a batch. The girls, ranging from the age of 8-16 years would come from nearby areas and stay in the center for the duration of the camp. Each counselor was assigned 1-2 co-counselors. Co-counselors were girls who had attended at least one of the three-level camps conducted by Voice4Girls during the previous years as a student, and had been chosen to help teach the class.
Needless to say, the experience had its ups and downs, but now that I think back on it, I am grateful for it all.
Before I write a more detailed explanation of the camp, I just wanted give a little bit of background and context about the experience. I’ll write another post soon, speaking a bit more about my experience there!
Until next time, cheers!