by Brinda Adige
The group of girls pictured above all participated in Loretta Cella’s Passion Project Leadership Training. This group now calls themselves Loretta Akka’s (elder sister) Group. It is an endearing thought that the girls now seem to see themselves as confident and special , where they also seem to get treated in a more special manner than the rest of the children (both boys and girls), in the L.R. Nagar slum where they live. When we enquired why they felt the way the felt, they proudly responded that they have ‘information and courage’, and that they are equal to boys and they can win any battle. They also added that in all classrooms at school, they are ordered to keep silent and nod their heads when the teacher asks if they have understood. Loretta’s session was different and very special because the girls were encouraged and invited to speak and share their thoughts.
A feedback session with the girls proved to be very insightful last week. The girls revealed that their worst fear was being teased or hurt by boys and men. But since participating in the training workshop, they have learned how to find courage in the face of any incidents that might happen. A couple of the girls shared that they hate boys, and two other responded to them asking, “Do you hate boys or the way they behave towards girls?” We know that these girls have so many things to look forward to in their futures, and yet, their one primary fear happens to be similar to what every woman in India is anxious and concerned about. They learned to respect themselves and their bodies and to remember and understand that girls and boys are equal. That is now what gives them the courage to face any harmful incidents that may happen.
Through the Passion Project Leadership Training, they further learned how to recognize their weaknesses and transform them into strengths, while continuing to love themselves, their friends and family. A couple of them shared that they had discussed how to draw boundaries where boys are concerned. Additionally, Loretta (pictured below with Passion Project Leadership participant Salomi) wrote an insightful post on her Global Sorority blog about her experience with boys at one of the workshops, and how she gave them the opportunity to start becoming part of the solution in a positive and empowering way. Read about it here.
Source Global Sorority
The girls enthusiastically exclaimed that it was at the workshops with Loretta where they were asked, for the first time, to share their dreams, their likes and dislikes, and the qualities they appreciated most about themselves. The remaining part of our discussions revolved around their qualities and how they found it difficult to list three qualities. One girl responded that it was difficult to identify qualities in themselves because they were always spoken down to, told not to attract boys with they way they dressed, they way they walked or even talked. Yet, the discussion revealed to them that inner strength and courage is in each one of us. They especially loved being given a rose, which happens to be the favorite flower of most of the girls in the group. They always assumed that only important adults were gifted roses. Receiving the rose from their teacher and akka was such a beautiful moment for them. They proudly showed off the rose all the way home and to anyone who asked them about the flower, they responded that the rose symbolizes celebration for being a girl.