The inception of Katha Sri dates back to 1990 when we learnt that children weren’t coming to schools because they had to help their families earn a living. When we went deeper into the communities of Govindpuri we realised that the women were eager to send their children to school but the family’s financial conditions restrained them. Back then the average income of the households was Rs. 700, so we decided to equip the women with the ability to earn a living that would enable the children to come to schools, because when a woman earns, the child learns.
Motivated by the passion to create a beautiful future for our children, Katha started with
vocational training courses in baking as that was a novel skill for the women in the community and in cutting and tailoring because many women took interest in the art of embroidery and stitching. As the courses progressed with a single tiny oven in the vicinity of the Lab School, the women expressed their inability to retain the quantitative elements of the recipes because of their lack of education. So we brought in a black board and distributed registers to all the women and taught them to write quantities and recipes through imitation and repetition eventually instilling in them elements of skill based learning. Gradually the programme flourished and many women of Govindpuri began to contribute to their household income.
Today you can find Akhtari in Navjeevan Camp who owns a shop for bangles and Guddi who runs her own beauty parlour.
Katha Sri is currently running in over 250 urban clusters across Delhi. It continues with the same essence as it addresses the specific challenges of 1) lack of autonomy on the part of women to take and make decisions for their families and for themselves, 2) lack of financial independence, 3) even where women are financially solvent – they are determined by detrimental socio-cultural stereotypes.
We are taking the power of stories to the communities and implementing StoryPedagogy in a different format. Through our experience we learnt that different groups of women have varied needs. So we conducted a necessary needs based assessment to understand the requirements of the women. Using this information we implemented our longstanding programme called the (SHE)^2 which is safe water, sanitation, health, hygiene, education and empowerment. We work across the themes of (SHE)^2 through 5 areas – information dissemination, awareness generation, skill based learning (functional literacy), financial literacy and networking women with organisations in the vicinity for vocational learning. Katha has also been successful in setting up Maa Mandals which are informal collectives of women from where women leaders rise. Maa Mandals symbolise the power of strength in numbers and women’s empowerment also resulting in sustainability of the programme.
Submitted by : Sarah Berry (Katha)