Latest stories

Photo essays

Video and audio

Latest stories

 

“The floods did not take away my spirit to learn…”

© UNICEF/ 2008
Rinki Kumari - Birpur (Supaul)

A story of how one small programme for girls changed their lives in a big way

Bihar: The Life Skills Training programme was initiated by the Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC), Government of Bihar (GoB), in collaboration with UNICEF for adolescent and young girls to be trained on essential life skills.  This proved invaluable when the infrastructure of almost all existing schools had been completely wiped out or damaged by the floods that swept large areas of the Indian state of Bihar.

A typical Naya Jeevan Abhiyan training calendar runs for four days and includes discussions on day-to-day activities, the level of knowledge about ‘Meena’, hygiene, keeping books and personal belongings properly, positive thinking and more.

While there was realisation for an urgent need to reach out to young and adolescent girls under these difficult circumstances, the crux lay in not launching another new programme. This is when Naya Jeevan Abhiyan which most girls between 10 -14 years of age were already familiar with, was chosen as being the best platform. Care was taken to keep training sessions lively and relevant for young minds under tremendous stress.

Rinky’s story :

Pradeep Ram, 52, one of hundreds of parents in Mega Camp 22-RD in flood-ravaged Supaul district, could not believe his ears: his 13-year-old daughter, Rinky, eyes downcast, had just told him he shouldn't be eating food without washing his hands properly. “You run the risk of contracting disease,” she said flatly, looking up to gauge his reaction.

More than his daughter, Pradeep confesses, it was he who had momentarily lost his voice! His ‘shy’ daughter had just ticked him off for not washing his hands!

Ever since the floods destroyed her village and her school, even the temporary school in the camp did not ignite any spark of enthusiasm in Rinky. She was morose and had little to do except walk around listlessly.

© UNICEF/ 2008
Amina Khatoon - Basantpur (Supaul)

Says Vandana Bhaskar, trainer with Naya Jeevan Abhiyan: ”Rinky was initially inattentive and rarely participated in activities during the first two days. But she suddenly broke out of her shell the day we began playing games like ‘knotting and un-knotting a rope’ to emphasise problem solving skills”. Rinky began to actively participate in other games as well and she became more confident.  In fact, she became the lead-singer in her group for the rest of the training period.

A typical Naya Jeevan Abhiyan training calendar runs for four days and includes discussions on day-to-day activities, the level of knowledge about ‘Meena’, hygiene, keeping books and personal belongings properly, positive thinking and more.

Amina Khatoon 13, of village Bishnupur Chowdhury in block Basantpur of Supaul district has a similar story to share: “The night when flood waters entered our village, I rushed out with my 11-member family to the main road nearby at a higher level. It became our temporary shelter for days before we were rescued by army boats and taken to camp 22-RD in Supaul. These were hard and scary days; we are from a well-to-do family and hardships like this were new and difficult for us.”

Amina adds: “I will never forget the four-day ‘Life Skills Training’. I think I can confidently say it was the turning point of my life. My parents feel very proud when I share my learning with them and I am now determined to share this knowledge with everyone once I am back in my village”.

Amina adds: “I will never forget the four-day ‘Life Skills Training’. I think I can confidently say it was the turning point of my life. My parents feel very proud when I share my learning with them and I am now determined to share this knowledge with everyone once I am back in my village”.

Says Kanchan Kumari, 12, the vivacious daughter of Basudev Paswan and Shakuntala Devi of village Birpur in Supaul district  “It was 11.00 o’clock at night when we heard shouts that flood waters had entered the village. We all rushed to our neighbours’ pucca house and took shelter on the roof. We watched in horror as my house and our four bullocks were all washed away. It was very sad to hear their pitiful cries and not be able to do anything…my father wept.  In one moment we had lost everything.

Two days later we were rescued by government boats and since then camp RD-22 is our home. Life for me became dull and meaningless. I joined the make-shift school but my heart was not in my studies since I thought it would all be in vain.

Then somebody persuaded me to attend the ‘Jeevan Kaushal’ training. The next four days were wonderful and helped me forget my pain. It helped me look at what happened in a different manner and now I am a totally changed girl. I want to rebuild my life with optimism.”

For Rinky and 28 girls like her attending the ‘Life Skills Training’ sessions, life has more to offer than staring blankly at the chaos around them….. they look forward to a new tomorrow.

For more such stories, please subscribe to our RSS Feed.

 

 

 

 

A Word on Naya Jeevan Abhiyan

The Life Skills Training programme imparts training to young girls on aspects like positive thinking, understanding strengths and weaknesses, emotional counselling, problem solving, decision making, importance of traditional values, psychological and physiological issues faced by them as they grow, etc. The programme has been especially adapted to address the difficult circumstances that girls face in relief camps devoid of schools, games, friends, families or any form of entertainment.

Naya Jeevan Abhiyan activities specifically focus on children in shock and needing urgent hand-holding. The programme began in the last week of September, 2008, in the district of Araria but given its almost-instant popularity amongst the girls and the results achieved, two more districts- Saharsa and Madhepura  are being covered by the programme. It is proposed to continue the trainings till December, 2008.


Search:

For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection
ADVANCE HUMANITY