Over 10 hearts filled in gratitude - a team of customers, volunteers and internal team at Woman Ambassadors - with bags full of love, walked to leave a spark of happiness at a shelter home in the urban slum of Tangra, off Park Circus [Kolkata].
“Lets start with the Boys” said the team, as they sat down to brainstorm the 1st endeavor to bring change for the women of the society.
And so was the selection of this orphanage housing 40 boys who were school dropouts, physically abused or were found wandering on streets or railway stations. The wide age gap from 6 to 17 years raised apprehensions on the possible activities to organize and their ability to understand any education on gender equality.
To facilitate the process, we called on 20 girls [aged 6-17 years] from the community who unlike the boys, went to schools.
Ensuring a pure play of fun and education, the team broke the ice in the 500 sq ft space, by making the kids walk in 2 opposite circles to the tune of Dear Zindagi, as smiling faces, shook hands to acknowledge and accept each other.
With titles as Apsara, Zeenat, Salman, and Ravi – we moved over to the introductions.
Following this, with the motive to impart basics into the kids, we had a fun quiz covering life sciences, moral education, history, general knowledge and geography. We wondered who were more excited in this one – they getting the right answers, or we seeing them rejoice with every prize they won.
Again, we used the quiz as our way to identify the gender stereotype minds in the room.
Do only girls cry? Who goes for a job? Can a girl box? Whose job is to cook food and keep the house clean?
Less surprised by the responses, we understood the stereotypes existed in the minds of both boys and girls. However, the latter resorted the willingness to rise and change.
We invited questions and suggestions to their thoughts on the same platform to enable fair discussion between both the worlds.
“My parents, say don’t paly with the boys. They are the bad ones.”
“The girls always fight.”’
“The boys abuse and use bad words”
“The girls scratch with nails”
Thoughts and questions, not too different from the experiences of the more privileged class of the society, we sat down to hear and discuss.
Over a series of such questions, we understood that it is not they holding on the stereotype. It is what they have grown up to see and taught by society, acquaintances and parents.
To respect and ensure sensitivity of the topic for deeper discussions, we divided the group by gender and undertook parallel sessions educating on 2 topics.
One, awareness of your body and prevention of sexual abuse, viz. good touch, bad touch. Two, breaking stereotype on career choice.
A series of other planned interactive sessions and games had to be cut down due to limited availability of time.
To bring in Christmas cheer and before some cake cutting – we shared the reasoning to the holy Christmas tree and Santa Claus celebrations. With gratitude delivered to the Christ, the kids cut the cakes to relish the abundance that flowed in the air.
With drinks and snacks, and ice-cream to close the celebration, the team stood smiling in gratitude and thanked each other for what a day well spent.
We understand that beliefs don't change over couple of hours. However, we consider this as our 1st step to create an impact on lives.