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Mandirs in India to promote education, vocational training and health

Mandirs in India to promote education, vocational training and health

Author: Dr Sharda Jain
Publication: Organiser
Date: March 4, 2007
URL: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=173&page=23

Introduction: "One'S effort becomes divine when one tries to bring in a new dimension in one's assigned work, a new dimension which shows concern and meets the needs of masses; where one is able to convert temple into temple of learning." -Sadhvi Ritambhara

Vatsalya Mandir in Jwala Nagar (Delhi) shows the way to all mandirs that they can play a big role in women and girl child empowerment, as temples usually have space; and public feels that girls are safe in temples atleast.

"The real way to women's empowerment is upgradation of girls knowledge and skill in health, education and vocational training". Vatsalya Mandir at Jwala Nagar is a integrated complex of religious and educational activities. It houses on ground floor a mandir that has a seating capacity of 300 people for satsang. It started vocational training centre three years back with the four objectives in mind-broaden educational knowledge and improve communication skills of girls; impart vocational skills to make them economically independent; make them healthy and give them knowledge and skills so that they can take care of their family's health; and impart self-defence training and personality development to improve their self-esteem and courage.

Now training in cutting and tailoring, embroidery, beauty and skin care and computer is also being imparted. The Centre has 20 computers, 30 sewing machines and all the requisite machines for imparting beauty and skin care courses. All these courses are recognised by Ministry of Human Resource Development. Each student is examined and grades are given by Jan Shikshan Sansthan. Also 300 girls, children and married women visit this centre everyday. This centre is run from 1.00 to 5.00 pm when usual temple activities are not in operation.

This centre is also running Vatsalya Women, Child and Youth Development Centre. The purpose of this centre is to promote education and health of students, their families and community around. The principal and eight teachers are teaching at this centre. Low salary has not dimmed their enthusiasm for students training. This is because of their wish to contribute in a small way in nation building. People are coming forward for the support with small donation of Rs. 100 per month, computers, machines for teacher's salaries as well as for upgradation of centre in terms of infrastructure.

Educational Activities
This centre runs pre school coaching centre for slum children and Balwari, where slum children are helped in their school homework and special classes are taken for Maths and English. School dropouts are coached and enrolled for open school examinations (8,10 and 12th standard). These girls feel obliged as they gain back their self confidence as result of this empowerment. Special English speaking course is imparted which helps them in picking good jobs.

Health Activities
Children and students are screened for anaemia twice a year and health check up is done for each child. Iron-folic acid supplementation and deworming is given to each child. The Centre organises Adolescent Health Workshops for adolescent girls where interactive sessions are taken by gynaecologists.

This Centre runs Basti Sevika Training Programme for under privileged girls from slums. These women help in big way in promoting and enrolment for immunisation, no home delivery, no abortion by quacks, movement against anaemia and distribution of contraceptives and Iron-folic acid tablets at the doorstep of families.

Their work is still volunteer. They need to be given economic incentive for their work. Vatsalya Mandir has helped Indian Medical Association in big way for creating awareness about anaemia, screening for Hb and distribution of Iron and Folic acid tablets. The main focus is being given on all round development of girl child.

Helping girls to identify their goals, personality development course, self defence course, awareness about their legal rights, sensitising them about environment and green Delhi are some other topics on which work is going on.

The activities of this mandir towards women empowerment are commendable. Sadhvi Ritambhara, the patron of this mandir, always says to teachers and students, "Don't lower your expectation to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Set small targets every year and take necessary steps to make it a reality."

The religious organisations should be appealed to start similar activities to bring women in forefront of nation building.

(The author is chairperson, Women Wing of IMA.)

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