BOLD STEPS - a Placement, Training and Support program for domestic workers

 - Smita Das, Boston

Bold Steps, the Placement, Training, and Support program for domestic workers and their employers, has seen a large increase in their impact.  Employers have given the organization positive feedback on the quality of service, the ease of finding a domestic worker, and the contract that keeps terms clear and straightforward.  Domestic workers have also shared stories of how their quality of life has improved.  While many have commented on the improved labor conditions and the respect given by their employers, others have highlighted the impact of the program on their personal lives.

One woman stated that after finding a full time job through our agency, her income increased and exceeded that of her husband.  While she was previously physically abused by her husband regularly, her improved financial power caused her husband to stop the beatings.  

At their weekly meetings, domestic workers have also begun choreographing Bihu and Boro dances, which provides a welcome source of recreation that they previously did not have.  

Bold Steps has joined forces with Maitri, and together, the organizations have increased their numbers and efficiency.  However, because of a lack of funding, Bold Steps may be forced to close in October or November.

Bold Steps

SIX FAMILIES TO RECEIVE SOLAR LIGHTS

 Pinky Pradhan, Pennsylvania

After successfully delivering the challenge of raising $4000 from 50 unique donors in May 2012 and securing a permanent spot on the Global Giving (www.globalgiving.org), we are happy to share that donations are still pouring in and so far we have raised more than $ 5,000. We are thrilled with the amazing support that this project continues to receive.

The volunteering project teams in the United States as well as the partners from Guwahati, Assam have been on their toes laying the preparatory ground work for the project implementation. Several key meetings, video and tele-conferences were held to discuss the challenges and to identify cost effective and sustainable solution and approach. Finally, the team has decided, with substantial inputs from AFNA members, donors and noted local social entrepreneur Mr. Pradip Sharma that the project will strive to create a model solar energy based community center at Garbhanga and the funds will be given to the beneficiaries in the form of a microfinance loan.

SIX FAMILIES TO RECEIVE SOLAR LIGHTS 1

The villagers will select the households among themselves and the selected household will pay Rs. 300 (approx 6$) every month towards loan repayment, including two months advance. Though the system price is Rs. 3200, an additional 400 Rs (4.5 $), will be collected and paid to a service provider (preferably a local woman) who will be supervising the loan repayment and providing simple maintenance work if needed. Mr. Pradip Sharma emphasized on the need for loan repayment, saying, “The loan repayment policy should be strict so that later we don’t have to face difficulties in collecting the money and thus replicating the model.”

In the next few weeks, we expect the 6 households replacing the kerosene lamps with the solar lighting devices. A new journey will begin.

SOCIETY FOR HEALTH & EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (SHED)

 Ankur Bora, Texas

SHED is a Training & Rehabilitation Centre for Differently Abled Children founded by Lanu  Aimol. Lanu is originally from Imphal, Manipur. He grew up in humble beginnings, but throughout he had great dreams, - a dream not for himself, but for the betterment of the children. He started SHED in 2008, with a bank loan, with the aim of providing a rehabilitation centre for the disabled children. Today, this institution of love and light has immensely brightened the lives of dozens of less fortunate children.

SOCIETY FOR HEALTH & EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT 1

Assam Foundation of North America ( AFNA ) is blessed  to be associated with SHED. AFNA is supporting the educational cost of a number of children at SHED through the  Support a Child initiative. One of the beneficiaries of this program is a young girl named Bimola Sinha. Bimola is sight-disabled. She is practicing music including semi-classical bhajan, a ghazal, and lovely Assamese songs. She recently  received the gold medal in a national competition for disabled children in Chennai.

Lanu is running this centre primarily with his  own salary and from a rented accommodation. Running a disabled centre in a rented house of residential area has created or encountered countless problem like payment of costly monthly house rent, frequently getting complaints from the neighbor and house owner about the disabled children.

In order to address these problem permanently SHED need a permanent place, spacious rooms and building for disabled children. These children need holistic therapy, rehabilitation services and development and peaceful environment. SHED is considering a permanent building at a plot of land in a countryside of Guwahati. We request your support and appeal for your generous donation through Assam Foundation of North America.

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