Since its inception in 1988, Katha has driven its community initiatives and activism through the idea that children, even a preschooler, can grow their potential to be responsive, responsible citizens. In 1990, we started a “de-school” called Katha Khazana, in Govindpuri, one of Delhi’s largest slum clusters. But only five children came to our school. The reason was that the others were working. So we realized that if we can get Rs 800 into the hands of the women – a family earned just that much in those days – then we could ask them to send their children to school. Thus began our work with women’s economic empowerment and community revitalization. We believe that empowering oneself is a personal journey. Each one of us must feel the need to be, as Gandhiji said, “be the change we want to see in the world.” And this is what our women have done! The defining feature of Katha is the spirit to constantly explore, evolve and innovate. We work with the powerful belief that we can make the difference.
KaSWI has built a strong cadre of 800 young enthusiasts, together with the stakeholders, the shopkeepers, the women, and elders of the community. They initiate a process of change through dialogue, critical reflection and action in our slum clusters.
Katha’s Slum Resurgence Initiative, SRI, works in 64 slums, bringing together different groups and teams in Katha to focus on more equitable lifestyles for children, women, men and elders. Since 1990, 95,000 women have gone through our training programmes. A survey of 1, 200 women last year shows that they collectively earn about Rs 4 million a month. A great fillip to our CHALLENGE 2010!
Our youth learn to work with women as major contributors in community activism. They are the [she] squarers, helping double woman power in our communities! SHE-SQUARE stands for Safe Water and Sanitation; Healthcare and Housing; Employment and Empowerment. Working in the bustling slums, the [SHE]2 model brings decent lifestyles to people in Govindpuri, and in other Katha communities across Delhi. Our women are able to fight for rights usually denied to them. Katha’s efforts to bring them literacy and independent incomes have facilitated their own and their families’ wellbeing, thus ensuring better education, better health and brighter futures for their children.
Katha initiated the Gender Resource Centre for the Delhi Government. Last year, it brought about social, economic, and legal empowerment of women, in the Lal Kuan resettlement colonies. The activities include workshops in legal rights, healthcare, right to information and communication skills. And certificate courses in income generation skills, micro enterprise and entrepreneurship development.