‘Aatmabal Vikas’, as the name itself suggests, a programme that intends to empower the woman by way of discovery or rather awareness of the strength and its source, both lie ‘within’. It implies the vikas, i.e. the development of the potential that the woman already possesses.
Designed under the guidance of Nandai, this 6-month programme moulds the woman from various perspectives so that she becomes and stays a positive personality, carries herself with confidence at home and outside the world, is independent about her daily needs and most importantly – ‘Be Happy’.
The programme weaves around the following nodes:
1. A dialogue with the Group: Here guidance is given about nurturing relations within the family, efficient management of time and thereby putting time to appropriate use, handling gadgets, cleanliness, sensible economics, pertaining to the household, advice about how to give you and the family quality time while managing the home and the occupation, etc. It is apparently small skills like handling gadgets or managing your accounts or documents or even giving you space and time that go a long way in giving contentment which in turn extends to the home.
2. Studying the English Language: The ability to communicate in English is a need of the day. It follows then, that the woman must be able to converse and be able to convey her thoughts in English. Many of the women who join the programme have never ever spoken a word of English but by the end of 6 months, end up staging an English play. The group is divided into three levels – the basic, the medium low and the medium high. The basic level has, of course to begin from the alphabet. As they step out, they are even proficient in signing in English.
3. Enactments: Putting up skits on given topics, ex-tempore talks, debates, group discussions, games are used as media to help the group shed inhibition and speak before a crowd.
4. Projects: Projects with models made out of waste material (the idea is to do it without spending a single penny) illustrate themes like the sacred places or devotional services (seva) associated with the organization or banking transactions, booking railway/air tickets. The project may even be presented along with a short skit.
5. Craft: (Best out of waste): Wonderful articles that can be useful in the home are made out of waste material or material usually available in all homes. This not only nurtures creative ideas but also brings the family together in a creative experience. For instance painting lamps or making the ‘kandil’ (lantern) for Diwali. One gets used to think in a certain manner and learns not to ‘waste’ or dismiss articles, to preserve the things carefully.
6. Lectures: Experts in the field of law, or of medicines are invited to guide women and educate them. Demonstrations on subjects like vermiculture are arranged. On the very first day, Nandai gives the group a few seeds of each tree which they have to sow. The plants that grow from these seeds are then handed over for plantation programmes.
7. The end-session programme: At the end of the 6 months an entertainment programme presents the entire group on stage. Each person is a participant and in the foreground. The group writes plays which they themselves perform, direct and act in. It is a point to be noted that the plays do not necessarily extract sympathy for the woman. They do shed light on the undesirable aspects in a woman but only with the intention of ridding her of them. An exhibition of the project models is also displayed on this day. A journal of recipes selected among those, is handed over to each member of the group.
8. The presentation of certificates: The group is awarded a certificate for having successfully completed the program.
9. The picnic: This day is meant entirely for ‘play’. It is literally a day for complete enjoyment and fun.
10. The 6 month period intends to equip and so is not the end, it is in fact the beginning….a point in time where each woman is all set to step out into the world with the ‘food’ – the package that will sustain her and sustain with self-respect, positivity and confidence. She leaves the last class session with a spoon, full of curds and sugar from Nandai. This little spoon has blessings and strength that will last a life time and its satisfying sweetness invariably seeps into her life and thinking.