A representative from Azim Premji Philanthropic initiatives (APPI) visited CHSJ’s Kolkata Initiative work areas to understand the learnings and experiences of the community from 13 to 15 May 2022. During the visit, the representative interacted with leaders of Samadhan Dal- women’s collective, elderly women groups of Dida Centres, adolescent girls, and men groups for gender justice. Parichiti, a unit of CHSJ, has been working with poor marginalised women and girls in Kolkata’s slums for almost a decade. In the decade-long journey, Parichiti has developed leadership among women domestic workers of Kolkata and South 24 Pargana district of West Bengal. The Samdhan Dal members are working on the prevention of gender-based violence and have been instrumental in bringing justice to many women in the areas where Parichiti works. The team also interacted with elderly women of Dida Centres, and they shared how their lives had changed after joining the centres. The elderly women shared in the meeting that the kind of companionship and friendships they needed in their old age had been possible only because of these centres.
The adolescent girls’ groups shared that they would expect to learn many life skills lessons and leadership qualities from their association with Parichiti. They shared that their education had been hampered due to the pandemic and there are many girls in their community who dropped out. Also, they told that marriage at an early age was a common practice in the community for which they expected intervention from the Parichiti -CHSJ.
The women from Samadhan Dal shared that they would like to learn more skills related to business and entrepreneurship, information to take care of their health and leadership skills for addressing violence against women and how to access state’s support in that. The representative from APPI along with project team members revisited the last one-year journey of Kolkata Initiative Work and discussed how to incorporate those learnings and expectations from the discussions in the next year’s project planning. The three-day visit from APPI has helped the CHSJ team to build new strategies for the next year’s work.