Sunday, May 7, 2017

Where there is a will there is a way.

In past three weeks of me visiting the sewing centre I haven’t seen her in centre. She sat on the first bench. She was quietly sitting and doing work with utmost sincerity. When approached she introduced herself as Anjana. She told that she is 40 years old and has lived all her in Jammu and recently came to Delhi to be with her husband and get a proper medical treatment for her problem. When asked about her health issue she didn’t say much. Her body language was enough to conclude that she doesn’t feel comfortable in talking about her problem. When asked about her life back home she said she was married at the age of 26 to a man 5 years elder to her. After marriage she went to her husbands family house where she lived with her in-laws and four unmarried sister in laws. She finished her graduation before getting married and aspired to study further but due to her husband’s responsibility towards his sisters, he couldn’t support her further education. When she was talking about major events of her life she seemed very calm and showed no signs of regrets of any kind. She further added, in order to earn a better income her husband took up a Government job and gets transferred very often; she never got to live with him for a long period of time. This is the first time she has been living with her husband. When the question of how she found Maitri’s sewing centre came up, she smiled and replied that she didn’t like living in Delhi and had a lot of free time and to utilize the free time she was looking for some classes. And she came across Maitri’s sewing centre in sector-7 R K Puram and enrolled for a diploma. She added that she completed her diploma with the highest rank in the batch. No wonder she is a good and sincere student, her dedication towards her work was the most noticeable thing about her. She still comes to the centre to learn advance designing and she also uses the centre sewing machines to complete her orders. Anjana is proudly utilizing her diploma degree by taking stitching orders for the ladies in her neighborhood. She mentioned that on an average she earns rupees 2,000 to 2,500 from these orders. Her husband and in-laws doesn’t like that she earns from stitching suits and dresses for other ladies but it is her hobby that’s why they have made peace with it, and let her work. She plans to continue earning from sewing when she goes back to Jammu after her treatment.

Myesha Khan
Christ University Bengaluru
Intern @ Maitri 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Life changing experience at Maitri

Today is our last day here at Maitri India. Over the past three and a half weeks, what we have learned goes way beyond the tangible things that could be put on excel sheets and power point presentations. What Maitri has taught us is to delve deep into the roots and take an initiative to make a change. Over here, we met people who are continuously working for making the world a better place to live in. Maitri’s contributions to the various sectors of the society through their multiple projects has given the people a reason, a purpose to live. Each day here gave us an opportunity to learn something new. From attending health camps to teaching primary class children basic mathematics fundas, Maitri gave us an opportunity to relive our childhood days once again. We would like to express our gratitude to our wonderful mentor, Ms. Tara Rana and the entire Maitri India staff who were always ready to help and share their learnings with the two of us. Also, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the support staff of Maitri who religiously work towards making each event of Maitri a huge success without expecting anything in return.

Shrey Bhatia | Sumit Jakhar
Interns @ Maitri India
NMIMS, Mumbai

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My name is Malika Bakshi and this is my first internship. I am studying Political Science (Honors) at University of Delhi, third year. I am really enjoying being here. I have learned so much and met so many people. This is my first week here and I don't want this internship to end.
I have always been passionate to fight for women rights and domestic violence, and since joining Maitri I’ve learned about so many husbands beating their wives and treating them like animals.  I am deeply hurt after seeing this and am glad that NGOs help them to take a stand.  It is my pleasure to be part of such a NGO.

I’ve got the chance to interact with so many women.  Some were beaten by their husbands, some were not respected by their sons and daughter in-laws, and some were widows with no place to stay.  They had so many problems in life but I saw them happy and fighting.  Maitri is one reason for smile on their faces.  I am glad that Maitri has given me this opportunity.

This is my first step in the real world and I want to be a part of Maitri as long as I can to fight against domestic violence and to remove it from our society.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I just rolled into New Delhi!

My name is Alexis.  I'm Maitri's newest summer intern and I arrived last week all the way from Salt Lake City.

I'm 22 years old, I'm entering my senior year of school, and I study film.  I plan on pursuing international documentaries after I graduate and I came to New Delhi this summer to make short films for Maitri.  I'm passionate about women's rights and am so excited to further those rights in India while doing the kind of work I love.  I'll get to be in the middle of all the action, taking pictures and filming videos at Maitri's various projects and programs.  I'll be helping Tara keep up on social media (and have more pictures to post!) so that we can reach more people.  By the end of the summer, I'll have created several short films we can post as well to show everyone exactly what we're working on and how we use their donations.

I've been at work for less than a week, but I've already been able to dive in.

I spent yesterday afternoon at our Sonia Vihar center, filming the summer kids' program, sewing class, and spoken English class.  A surprise rainstorm slowed the sewing and English students from making their way over while also trapping me, so I stayed inside and watched the kids splash in the flooded parking lot.  I'm heading back over today, so if we get hit with rain again I have my jacket this time and will join them.

Today is also International Yoga Day, so we're hosting a kids' yoga class.  I'll be filming this afternoon's menstruation information session at that time, but I think I'll have to google some yoga techniques when I get home and practice on my own tonight.

I'll be here until mid-August and am going cram in as many projects and as much fun as I can until then.  I'll post updates here, and of course we'll have our social media accounts running!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Real Impact

There are NGOs that help one cause or another, but few that commit themselves as wholeheartedly as Maitri does to helping everyone that they can. Their holistic approach, combined with an attention to actual impact, has been inspiring to witness firsthand. Widows, children, women, migrant workers- all downtrodden in their own way- are uplifted and supported by Maitri's work.

Tired of seeing so many groups in the US that committed themselves to help but ended up talking a lot more than actually doing, I left for Delhi, in the hopes of finding work with a nonprofit that legitimately cared about the causes they were involved in and could create actual change. I was pleasantly surprised to find Maitri exceeded all expectations. The gratitude expressed by weathered widow mothers and jubilant slum children has been evidence that this work is not going unappreciated.

I'm very grateful to Maitri India for allowing me to participate, for just a few months, in the wonderful work they are doing. The devoted staff of the organization work tirelessly to create a platform to lift people out of hardships that they cannot escape on their own. With barely more than 10 years in existence and already so much accomplished, I look forward to see what Maitri can do in the next decade.

Thomas Whitworth
University of Utah '16

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

To make Change you must Take Charge

I will never forget...

the sound of leaves, dust, and trash being swept up first thing in the morning; the busy streets starting to buzz at quarter to 8:00, the chirping of birds and finally the feeling of sun on your face as you step outside to walk to work--a peaceful walk--and when you arrive, the sweat forming on your forehead from the muggy Indian heat. As I return home to my busy and comfortable life in quiet and beautiful Utah, I will miss these things. 

There are many things that I have learned during my time here, exploring Delhi and all of it's beauty and liveliness, working as an intern with Maitri, and learning about what it takes to make change among social issues and break social stigma.

To make Change you must take Charge: 

While cars fly by not even 5 feet from where children are running the the street playing with monkeys while their mothers make lunch from whatever food their family can afford for the day, instead of being safe in a school getting an education--you may feel helpless or overwhelmed with sadness. No one likes feeling helpless, so perhaps it would be easier to close your eyes and pretend that social inequality, lack of clean water or sanitation, health problems and poverty as well as social issues, violence, gender inequality, etc. exist all around you. Right? 

Luckily, you do not need superpowers to take on any one of these issues, you simply need passion, drive, and dedication to creating a better life for others. 

NGO's do important work in mitigating these social issues that. It
is with passion, drive, and dedication that as a community, we can make change.

Now, I have learned many travel and life skills, what foods will make me sick, how to create a curriculum for an after school program, how to organize and lead efficiently and effectively. But of these skills that I have learned, it is still the passion, drive and dedication to a cause that I believe, will prove to be the most useful in my time to come, in whatever career I end up in.

To make a Change, I must take Charge. 

Keep your eyes open, hearts hurting, and relationships flowing for these are the basis of what drives people to make change in their communities. Remember that by yourself, or as a team, with a vision for a better world and the dedication to something that seems impossible at times, to quote Indian guru Mahatma Gandhi , you can indeed "be the change you wish to see in the world". 

Not only will I remember the buzzing markets--bargaining my way through them, or the rich culture I have been lucky enough to experience, I will remember that I am capable of incredible change.

Thank You, Maitri India NGO for hosting my stay and introducing me to these valuable lessons.
By Stephanie Gladwin 
University of Utah 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Migrant Labour and the Big City

As if a symbol of the immense inequality that characterizes life in any big Indian city, large buildings with jewellery shops that cater to the affluent classes conceal a community of migrant rickshaw pullers from the sight of passing cars on the busy road. These migrant workers are integral to urban socioeconomic life but excluded from the benefits of citizenship. Living in slums, they are harassed by the police and ignored by an apathetic government. Yet, as they tell me, despite all of the issues it entails, living in the big city is far preferable to life in the dry countryside from which they come. “My village was very dry this year, as the rains never came”, says Ram Vilas, a rickshaw puller who came to Delhi merely six months ago. Despite having completed secondary school in his village, plying rickshaws was the only job he could find when he came to live in Delhi. Back in his village in Datia District in Madhya Pradesh, there is no government support for poor farmers. His family remains in the village, but he is not satisfied with the education his two daughters receive there.

Yet all is not stark. Conditions appear to be improving, even if slowly. Thanks to Maitri, Ram Vilas now has a Ration Card, UID Card, and Below the Poverty Line (BPL) card that enables him to access government benefits. Health camps are regularly organized. Awareness about HIV, and the importance of safe sex is spreading among the rickshaw pullers because of Maitri as well. The shelter built by the Delhi government for the homeless in the community is well maintained, mostly thanks to its caretaker, Fotolal, a jovial middle aged man himself a former rickshaw puller. Under government schemes, two flush toilets were recently built for members of the community. There is an anganwadi and free food is provided to the children of some of the rickshaw pullers who have brought their families to live with them in Delhi.
On my way out, these observations leave me with a sense of cautious optimism about the future. I am optimistic because of the concerted effort on the part of non-profit organizations such as Maitri, amongst others, to improve the lives of migrant workers in big cities. However, the structural conditions of an iniquitous economic system that oppress migrant labour continue to exist. Immense wealth has been created for a tiny sliver of the Indian population because of rapid economic growth. However, much of this growth is jobless, with large sections of Indian society left out. Many of those excluded come from rural areas, since Indian agriculture is in deepening crisis. For a basic livelihood, farmers need to migrate to the big city, where jobs are scarce. As I see it, only when all levels of government assume the democratic mantle of working for all people, by investing in housing, healthcare and education for all citizens, can the conditions perpetuating poverty and inequality be eliminated.

Shatrunjay Mall
Connecticut College