Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Welcome to our Sambhali House

October was the beginning of a new era for Sambhali Trust: the opening of its own house in Raika Bagh, Jodhpur. By being able to buy the ground floor and rent the second one (partial advance payment paid, to hopefully raise enough funds until 2021 to pay the rest) of the former guest house Durag Vilas right next to Durag Niwas, the office, boutique and Graduate centre could move to a bigger place.

On the ground floor, the new office on the left offers enough space for all administrative employees and volunteers. We have extra rooms for the boutique’s stock and a kitchen which can be used by the whole staff. The boutique is right next to the office and the first room you see when you enter the house. Since many groups are visiting us, it is great to finally have a boutique big enough for more people at once. Recent feedbacks have only been positive and have therefore confirmed our decision to move. Furthermore, visitors can see where, how and by whom the items are produced. On top of that, our second boutique in the old town of Jodhpur has moved as well. It is now located next to BlueBird and Namaste CafĂ©. By the help of volunteers, especially Clair C. from the UK, the boutique has been painted and decorated in the beautiful pink color of Sambhali and Jodhpur’s blue. 


The former owners of the building still live on the first floor with a separate exit. On the second floor, the graduates have enough space to stitch and sew new products for both Sambhali boutiques. Additionally, there is another room which can be used as a private retreat for women of the Trust or guests to reduce the overheads of the NGO. The guest room next to it is nowadays used by our newest staff member Roxanne N., a former volunteer who is now the volunteers’ coordinator, administrator of the scholarship program and general assistant of Govind. 

The relocation of Sambhali Trust was a big step for the NGO. It gave us more sustainability and credibility. Vimlesh S., the Director of the Trust, says: “We all are very happy about the new Sambhali House. Finally, we have enough space for everybody, whether it’s in the office, boutique or with our Graduates upstairs. They can sit comfortably and have good light. Many shops in Jodhpur don’t have proper changing rooms because they are just too small. Since we also have more space in the boutique on the ground floor, visitors can try on our clothes and even changes can be done before they leave. It was a good decision to move.” Mrs. Tanwar, Sambhali’s General Secretary, adds that everything is now in one place and connected. When guests are coming, they know where they are and can be shown around very easily. 

We want to thank our donors and all people who have helped us in general. It wouldn’t have been possible without your generous help and support. We appreciate you very much. Thank you for believing in Sambhali Trust. We are looking forward to further cooperations.

Photos and text: Roxanne Naeschen

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A letter from Kavita

My name is Kavita Bihal and I am 29 years old. I was born in Punjab, a less conservative state in the north of India. In 2007, my family moved to Jodhpur. Unlike most women working at our centres, I went to school for 12 years and studied at a university in Jodhpur. I got my degree in fashion design in 2013. At the end of 2012, I joined Sambhali Trust. At first, I was working as a sewing teacher in an Empowerment Centre, but after a year I started to work at the Graduate Sewing Centre as a supervisor, back then we were only 15 women, and I taught them all the things we are making for the boutique. I am now in charge of the Graduate Sewing Centre as the manager. I am responsible for national and international orders, making samples, buying fabrics and training the women as well as teaching them new skills.

I enjoy my job at Sambhali Trust a lot. I learn everyday something new from the ladies and no day is the same. I like fashion, it's my passion, I am a shopaholic! I have a lot of freedom regarding my future and live a more independent life than most women in Rajasthan.

I know that Rajasthan is a tough ground for women’s rights and I am glad to be part of Sambhali Trust to support the women. I am happy about every little step to come closer to gender equality. Child marriage is very bad. The girls don't know what happens to them. And now they are only 18 years old and don't have dreams. The biggest problem is that most families think that education is not important for girls and women. The women here, before they started at Sambhali Trust, they thought they would never be able to work because they had dropped out of school early or did not complete a course. They thought being a housewife is their destiny. But now, women understand: Work and creativity do not need education, we do not need a diploma or a degree for that, just the willpower to learn. They understand that they can be an inspiration for other ladies, that they can support their families financially as well. Now, all women have understood that they have the power to earn money, that they have the power to speak, that they have the power to go out alone. So, they have learned about their rights, which is most important. And because they contribute to the family’s income, they are being respected more as well. The husbands, brothers or fathers, they trust them now, they trust their wives, their sisters, their daughters. The girls are so happy to work for Sambhali Trust. It's also a big deal for their families because the girls are leaving the house from the morning until the evening. The girls and women love it because it's a safe place, when they come here they feel empowered and free. I love to see that they are getting more confident.

Here, the women find their second family. They never talk about their own families, their problems at home, no, they have other topics to talk about while working in the centre. They have an own, different world here, in the sewing centre. This is empowerment, when you forget the pain from the past and move away from that.

I have always wanted to be a designer, and here, I am a designer. This has always been my dream. I chose to work for Sambhali Trust because it feels like family. I am not coming here as a manager, we are coming here as family. There is no hierarchy. We do not say sir or mam to anybody, we say didi for sister or bhaiya for brother. We all have a lot of freedom here. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

A letter from Mumtaz

My name is Mumtaz, my name means “good things”. I joined Sambhali Trust about three years ago. I went to school until I was 14 years old.

Mumtaz has been with Sambhali Trust since three
Three years ago, I talked to some women on the streets and they told me about Sambhali Trust. I haven’t paid much attention to what they were saying. But, a few days later, I met them again and they said that going there has already changed their lives. I talked to my husband about a possibility of me joining too, and I did.

When I went to Fatima Empowerment Centre, they did not ask any questions except my name and address. All the other women greeted me with a big smile on their faces. Among them, some were learning sewing, some were studying English. Just watching them already made me feel more confident about my decision of coming here. I learned that there is no age restriction when it comes to education. Understanding this inspired me to become a stronger woman. I will never forget that time. Since that day, I’ve been going to the centre daily – my husband also encouraged me. During the first few months I faced some problems since I wasn’t able to complete all my works at home anymore. However, once my family saw how I have started to benefit from Sambhali Trust, they encouraged and supported me to continue studying. I give my money to my husband and as soon as I want to buy anything, he gives it back to me.

I never thought that my life would ever change for the better, that I would carry the power of self-confidence inside of me. I learned sewing – I liked making stuffed animals the most. Seeing all my good work, Govind bhaiya offered me to work in the Sambhali Trust Graduate Sewing Centre, so that I would earn money and become financially independent. My husband also wanted me to go out of the house and contribute to our family’s income. Thanks to this, I am not afraid to go out in the streets anymore. We have two children and my husband tells them to take an example on me.
I even started to teach some other women my skills and inspire them to make a change in their lives. After some time I started noticing the happiness in their faces – and seeing them happy makes me feel happy too.

From my point of view, I have achieved the goal of my life. Because my daughter receives a scholarship for her education, I am confident that she will have success in her life as well. 
Last thing I want to say: We should all respect and appreciate education for women and girls.