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Building a Community

Posted on Jun 26, 2019 | 0 comments

Building a Community

  “Building a Community” Shadhika’s 2019 Leaders for Change Summit By Kendra Nicolai, Shadhika’s Program Officer   The excitement soared as forty young women filled the conference room at the YMCA of Mumbai, ready to embark on the four-day Shadhika Leaders for Change Summit. The schedule was packed, the facilitators were prepared, and the heat was rising in the city of Mumbai. As the young women nervously sat and waited to begin, they glanced at a yearbook that showed all of the attendees – their future friends. The four days were full of workshops conducted by Vacha,...

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Teamwork

Posted on Jun 17, 2019 | 0 comments

Teamwork

  “Teamwork” By Kim Burnett, Shadhika’s President & CEO   “Team Panj!!” we all shout, giving each other a high five. We’ve just divided into our groups for Shadhika’s “Mobile & Mighty Challenge”, a treasure hunt to reach nine landmarks in Mumbai over the course of four days. The first team to take a group “selfie” in front of each landmark and upload it to a private Facebook group, wins. I am a member of Team 5, “Panj” in Hindi.   The game is part of Shadhika’s Leaders for Change Summit, a four-day conference that has brought together over forty Shadhika college scholarship...

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Welcome Shadhika Scholars Class of 2019-2020

Posted on Jun 17, 2019 | 0 comments

Welcome Shadhika Scholars Class of 2019-2020

  By Kendra Nicolai, Shadhika’s Program Officer   “I want to stand on my own two feet and become something in my life.” This motivational phrase was common among the 2019-2020 Shadhika college scholarship applications. As 30 inspiring young women are awarded college scholarships for 2019-2020, communities throughout India are feeling the impact that being educated has on a young woman. These scholars have created a ripple effect and are motivated to see change because they were given the chance and opportunity to be something more in life. Not only are they committed to their...

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Sisters

Posted on Jun 11, 2019 | 0 comments

Sisters

“Sisters” By Kim Burnett, Shadhika’s President & CEO   “I’m looking for someone, someone like me,” Parvati* chants as she slowly turns around. She stands in the middle of the circle. Her question is part of an “energizer” – short games that are played in India to engage conference participants and keep the energy up in the room. This particular energizer is a form of musical chairs where the person who is “it” finds herself in the middle of the circle. The only way out is to swap with someone who shares a given characteristic or trait.   The game is being played during...

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Wonder Women

Posted on Jun 4, 2019 | 0 comments

Wonder Women

  “Wonder Women” By Kim Burnett, Shadhika’s President & CEO   There’s a low hum in the room. At first, I look around, slightly annoyed, thinking someone is having a side conversation during the speaker’s presentation. Then I realize the sound is coming from a facilitator who is simultaneously translating the current lecture from Hindi to Bengali for two of the participants. When you are hosting a conference for young women from across India who speak multiple languages, this is standard operating procedures and critical to making sure everyone is included.   This is...

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Being a Part of the Girl Fund

Posted on May 29, 2019 | 0 comments

Being a Part of the Girl Fund

  “Being a Part of the Girl Fund” By Narmada Morris, Shadhika’s Donor Outreach Coordinator   I still struggle with the concept of feeling like an equal in this world. I reflect on my own childhood and the inherent expectations of what a girl should or shouldn’t do. I was a rebel, constantly trying to do everything the boys did, just to prove the point of “anything you can do, I can do too” so naturally, my career path has led me to be inclined to remind other girls of the same goal I myself continue to try to achieve. I never want a young girl to feel that she has to assume...

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Coffee Cup Reading

Posted on May 23, 2019 | 0 comments

Coffee Cup Reading

“Coffee Cup Reading” By Shraddha Mahilkar, Shadhika’s Program Officer in India Reconference in Kathmandu was an event not be missed this year. #recon2019 was organized by CREA, a feminist human rights organization based in New Delhi, and included 500 participants from 50 countries. #recon2019 aimed to rethink, reimagine, and reshape conversations around feminism, sexuality, disability, abortion, and other related topics. The conference was not only stimulating and thought-provoking but also creative and fun. On the first day, one session really stood out called “Coffee Cup...

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How Shadhika Selects its Grantee-Partners

Posted on May 9, 2019 | 0 comments

How Shadhika Selects its Grantee-Partners

“How Shadhika Selects its Grantee-Partners” By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President & CEO I’m often asked how Shadhika selects our grantee-partners so I wanted to share the steps we take. We go through an extensive due diligence process that generally takes six months to complete. Because Shadhika seeks to develop long-term partnerships with those we support, we believe that taking adequate time upfront is absolutely critical and what distinguishes us from many other funding organizations. Over the six-month selection process, we carry out the following steps: STEP 1: Identifying...

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Bicycles

Posted on Apr 9, 2019 | 0 comments

Bicycles

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   We’re all starting to think this was a bad idea. Our guide has set up a bicycle tour of old Bangalore and there are fourteen of us all on bikes waiting to cross the street. With no stop lights or stop signs, the traffic is full chaos and crossing the street is a skill in and of itself.   We’ve been joined by five of the nine Shadhika Scholarship girls from Baale Mane, the others had to stay back because they do not yet know how to ride a bike. Even those who are now with us are visibly struggling. Just thirty minutes in, we call the ride off,...

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Polaroids

Posted on Apr 9, 2019 | 0 comments

Polaroids

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   “Wait two minutes, the picture will come. Magic,” our guide tells the mother. I hand over the Polaroid picture, the image barely beginning to show. I started carrying a Polaroid camera with me on site visits about a year ago. As I was asking to take their photos for Shadhika, I realized that few of the girls and their families have hard copy photographs of themselves.   The girl’s mother breaks into a wide grin as the image of her and her daughter comes into view. We’re standing in a narrow lane in the Bowbazar neighborhood of Kolkata. The second...

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Treasures

Posted on Apr 9, 2019 | 0 comments

Treasures

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO The bus stops and we get out. We walk down the narrow, winding dirt lanes carefully as the path is uneven and the ground wet from people washing their dishes and clothes. This community of over 3,000 sits right next to a garbage heap and most of the residents who live here work as ‘rag pickers.’ Approximately 4 million women in India work in this profession. Many of them are single mothers, working tirelessly for their families, starting as early as 2 am to collect and scavenge as much as 50 pounds of waste a day, earning an average of $2 for a...

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Visionaries

Posted on Jan 24, 2019 | 0 comments

Visionaries

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO Parvati’s* mother comes to the door of the tiny apartment to welcome us. Though the space isn’t much bigger than my bathroom at home, Parvati, a Shadhika Scholarship student, lives here with her mother and her three brothers. In this small space, everything has its place, everything has its purpose. We carefully find ours, as we take a seat on the floor. From the first, we can tell this is a loving home and that her mother is proud of her daughter’s accomplishments. Parvati has been with Vacha, Shadhika’s partner in Mumbai, for over four years now,...

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My Visit to STOP

Posted on Jan 18, 2019 | 0 comments

My Visit to STOP

By Susan Heinrich, a Denver-based writer and Shadhika volunteer. The pungent smell of spice fills the air as a young woman named Resha* sets lunch on a large table. Since I am a visitor, Resha takes time to explain the Indian dishes she has prepared; there are spicy mixed vegetables, fried eggplant, lentils and rice. Several STOP staff members join us and we enjoy the flavorful food and share an interesting conversation. It feels more like a home than a workplace.   I am spending the day at Shadhika’s grantee, STOP India, in Delhi. STOP, which stands for Stop Trafficking and Oppression of...

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Her Fire Burned Bright

Posted on Aug 1, 2018 | 0 comments

Her Fire Burned Bright

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO Donors and board members would sometimes ask me why we were supporting Uddami in Kolkata. At first glance, it seemed like an outlier for Shadhika support, just being a computer-training center. When I got these questions, I would just reply, “Wait until you meet Rabia.” Rabia was Uddami’s Director, and a product herself of Uddami, like all of the teachers there. Rabia was found on the streets as a child and taken to a Kolkata orphanage at an early age. Once there, the orphanage stopped her schooling at class 5, saying it was more important for her...

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The Tree House

Posted on Jul 16, 2018 | 0 comments

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO As we ascend the steep ladder to get to the second story meeting space, I feel like a girl again, climbing into a secret tree house. This is the new meeting space for the Vacha students participating in the after-school program that Shadhika is funding.   The room is small and packed with girls between the ages of 10 and 19. Over a hundred students participate in this program during the week, in three different sessions. They come to the program to get tutoring in English and computers, but also to learn about their rights and develop leadership...

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Congratulations to Shadhika’s Class of 2018

Posted on Jul 13, 2018 | 0 comments

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO Memories of yesterday’s event wake me up early. The silence of the early morning is filled with images of family, friends, and supporters who gathered to mark the graduation of Shadhika’s first class of college scholarship recipients at our partner site, Vacha, in Mumbai.   When we started planning this event, the graduates asked explicitly for an “American-style” graduation, with caps and gowns, something they’d seen on TV and in movies. In India, graduations are not generally marked with big events, but rather, are quiet rites of passage.   So...

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When Jeans are an Act of Defiance

Posted on Jul 7, 2018 | 0 comments

When Jeans are an Act of Defiance

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   Working at Shadhika, I am continually reminded of the freedom I enjoy and the things I take for granted.  Even the most mundane acts, like being able to walk where and when I want to or knowing I have access to a toilet pretty much whenever I need to, are privileges not shared by the young women we support. For them, coming and going from their homes is often a point of negotiation with their parents and they can often go a whole day without being able to access a toilet.  But when I read this year’s Shadhika Scholars college essays, I was taken...

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The Tyranny of Princes

Posted on Jul 1, 2018 | 0 comments

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO Our visit with Equal Community Foundation (ECF) in Pune has been sitting with me for days, challenging me to grow in my understanding. Challenging me to see our work in new ways.   This is the beginning of our second year working with ECF as part of our Boys for Girls initiative which focuses on working with boys and young men to teach them the skills they need to advance girls’ rights and gender equality.   Our support underwrites the cost of an after-school program that leads boys between 13-20 through three stages of development: from...

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Women’s Foundations Statement on Family Separation

Posted on Jun 21, 2018 | 0 comments

Women’s Foundations across the U.S. condemn the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and the continued detention of immigrant families. While the new executive order issued by the Trump Administration will pause the practice of separating immigrant families at the border, ending family separations without ending the “zero tolerance” policy means that women, children and families will continue to be charged criminally, held in inhumane detention facilities and refused refuge in the United States.   This policy is cruel, punitive and unnecessary. And it is a...

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Donor Trip

Posted on Feb 8, 2018 | 0 comments

Donor Trip

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   The cave is cool, a welcome respite from the heat and humidity. I listen as our guide describes the ancient stories carved into the huge granite stones before us. We are at the Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO site in Mumbai. I am joined by a group of Shadhika college scholarship students from VACHA, our partner in Mumbai, and five Shadhika donors. Our tour is part of Shadhika’s 5th Annual Donor Trip to India. This year, our two-week trip took us to visit Shadhika’s projects in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkata. As the guide continues to explain...

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Baale Mane

Posted on Dec 14, 2017 | 0 comments

Baale Mane

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   Kavita* is angry.  We are sitting in a non-descript, corporate conference room where Kavita is currently doing a three-month accounting internship. Earlier this year, Kavita received her Bachelors in Commerce, and Baale Mane, Shadhika’s grantee partner in Bangalore, found her this paid internship, which we all hope will be a stepping-stone to her landing her first job.  We’ve just had a meeting with Kavita’s supervisor, who gave an enthusiastic report of how Kavita has been doing, reporting that she is hard working, reliable, curious, and a good...

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Equal Community Foundation

Posted on Nov 28, 2017 | 0 comments

Equal Community Foundation

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   The time difference between India and Denver, Colorado, where I live, is twelve and a half hours. That means when I wake up in the morning, the first things that greet me are often “breaking news alerts” on my smart phone. Having left for India right when the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal broke, on this trip, it has seemed that every day my daily news alerts are full of additional stories of brave women and men who are calling out their harassment and abuse at the hands of other, powerful men. #metoo. I am thinking about all of this...

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STOP India

Posted on Nov 13, 2017 | 0 comments

STOP India

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   When I was younger, I used to play a game where I would ask people what superpower they would like to have – the ability to fly or the power to be invisible? I always chose the power to fly. But Savita* wanted to be invisible. It was clear from the first moment I met her, three years ago. It was during an early Shadhika site visit with our partner STOP India, in Delhi. STOP focuses on the prevention, rescue, and emotional healing of young women in India who have been victims of trafficking, either for sex or child labor. I first met Savita when...

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Jabala Action Resource Center

Posted on Nov 6, 2017 | 0 comments

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   Their faces stare down on us, silently watching our work. Tagore, Nehru, Gandhi, and other Indian men of note whose names I do not know. I am sitting in a small second floor community room in the heart of the Bowbazar community, home to the largest Red-Light District in Kolkata. The space has been donated for use to Jabala Action Resource Center, Shadhika’s partner in Kolkata, for an after-school program for the daughters of sex workers.  The male leaders on the walls are leftover decorations from a political party meeting that has been held in...

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Vacha

Posted on Oct 29, 2017 | 0 comments

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   “Do you have a uterus?” The question catches me off guard, but the young girl before me earnestly wants to know. We are sitting on the floor in a community room in a ‘basti’ (slum) outside of Mumbai, visiting with the young women and men who are participating in an after-school program supported by Shadhika. Though the rickety ceiling fan spinning above us is trying its hardest, the small room is stuffy, as it is crowded with over 60 eager young students who have gathered to share what they are learning. I am here for a Shadhika site visit, and...

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The Impact of Computers in a Mumbai Community

Posted on Aug 21, 2017 | 0 comments

By Durga and Sneha, sisters who are both Shadhika Scholars and community leaders at Vacha, Shadhika’s partner in Mumbai.   With the help of Shadhika, my sister and I were able to save up enough money to purchase a computer together. This investment has drastically changed our lives. Before we had our own computer school was very tough. We would have to borrow friend’s computers or use Vacha’s office computer to complete our school work. Many times our friends could not always provide us their computer or we would have to skip lectures to match our time with Vacha’s office hours. This...

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Spring

Posted on May 18, 2017 | 0 comments

By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO   I love Spring. After six months of snow here in Colorado, the arrival of Spring, in the form of flowering bulbs emerging in my garden, makes me smile and gives me hope for the future. I also love Spring because that is when we receive our annual applications for Shadhika’s Scholars Program. Through this program, a group of Shadhika donors comes together every year to provide college or vocational school scholarships to young women from our projects who have shown themselves to be leaders on girls’ rights issues in their communities. Like the...

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I Want to be a Trailblazer

Posted on Apr 21, 2017 | 0 comments

I Want to be a Trailblazer

By Zaira*, a Shadhika Scholar and community leader at STOP India, Shadhika’s partner in Delhi.   I wish to do an MBA or study in the field of business because one sees extremely few girls. Most people think this field is only for boys. I want to be a trailblazer for girls in my community. So that girls in our community may develop a career in this field as well. I also want to get an MBA because I like this field. I would like to understand the ins and outs of business, share them with my community, and familiarize them with the positive thinking of business. When a girl is born, people...

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Letters to My Father

Posted on Jun 19, 2016 | 0 comments

In honor of Father’s Day, four young women Shadhika supports wrote essays and letters to their fathers. All four young women are Shadhika Scholars and community leaders at Vacha, Shadhika’s partner site in Mumbai.     “About My Father” In honor of Father’s Day, the following essay was written by Radha, a Shadhika Scholar and community leader at Vacha, Shadhika’s partner in Mumbai. My father’s name is Tipyaa and I have three brothers. I could write so much of my dad and brothers because they are very important people in my life. These men in my life have always supported and...

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