Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Girls' club in Gajner

I have been in India for almost 6 months now and I have been running ever since the Girls’ Club project in Gajner, a small village in Rajasthan.

When I first arrived, the Girls Club was running since October 2014 twice a week every Sunday and Tuesday from 4:00pm – 5:00pm in Jessa colony (a community located a bit outside of Gajner center). Previous to my arrival, the girls club was very informal. Activities included sports, dance and coloring with little structure involved. In a couple of months, I managed to set up another Girls’Club in the Badjugar community, to involve a local 20-year-old young girl named Sushma Badjugar in facilitating the sessions as well as to structure the activities with each week a specific educational theme to discuss about.

Now, the Girls’ Club based in two different locations in Gajner and runs every Tuesdays. The first one takes place in the Badgujar Community from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm which currently consists of 7 girls aged from 8 to 12 years old and the second one takes place in the Jessa Community from 4:00pm – 5:00pm.

It was not easy and I faced many challenges. One of them remains the age gap and the different interests between the girls in Jessa colony specifically. Indeed, the youngest are 8 years old while the oldest are 17 years old. Some subjects are too complex for the little ones to be interested and when I go too deep into fun activities to involve the youngest, the oldest are not interested anymore. The other challenge related to it is the participation. Even though, all the sessions in Badjugar community have always had a 100% rate of participation, it is quite different in Jessa colony. Indeed, I always felt a lack of commitment from the girls in Jessa as the participation has been highly variable. Some girls come and go or disrupt the activities, especially the teenagers.

It is much better now that Sushma has joined the Girls’ Club team as she creates an interesting and more joyful dynamic. She knows very well the girls in Jessa colony as they all went to the same school so it helps us in establishing our credibility and legitimacy.
Sushma and me 
Above the fact that she helps in translating, engaging Sushma as a leader in facilitating the activities, means the Girls’ Club has the potential to continue in our absence in the future. Indeed, local participation in the planning and implementing of projects is crucial for development workers as it guarantees the ownership of beneficiaries and durability and efficiency of projects.

The girl’s club in Badgujar community with Sushma’s cousins and neighbors has been going really well. The girls are always very happy to see us and are waiting for us at the corner of the street at 1:45 p.m every Tuesday. Part of why it is going so well is definitely the strong relationship I was able to build with Sushma and her family before creating a formal GC. This is what might have been missed out in Jessa.

I also found that involving the mothers in the Girls Club in Badjugar has been beneficial in maintaining the girls’ interests and focus. Plus, it is also a good platform to engage with the mothers and the families overall and increase EduCARE’s visibility and comprehension of our presence.

Until now, we have discussed topics on health and hygiene habits, environment, gender roles in job opportunities, and female leaders. I realized that utilizing different types of media especially visuals such as videos and powerpoint really help the team to keep the girls focused.

Girls Club in Badjugar. From top left and then bottom left: Nandini, Bharti, Muskan, Rhadika, Ria, Puri and Shalu. 
The next step is to open the first ECRC (Education Career Ressource Center) to hold the Girls’ Club session there and create a safer and neutral space for the girls. I have talked to the mothers of Sushma’s cousins and they very well welcomed the idea.

I have been really happy in taking over this project and I can see how my relationship with the girls grew. I will continue to engage them in educational topics and create opportunity for them to come together to enjoy new experiences, become more self-confident, and develop skills that will help them throughout their life.

Mathilde Buchet - France
Girls' Club project manager, Gajner

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