Journey to Jharkhand

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

While the students were teaching at SNEHA during the College trip 2019, Christine Burnett, Saphara’s director, went on her own adventure. She crossed half the country to visit the Saphara Girl Champions programme in a remote tribal area. A two-hour flight from Delhi brought her to Ranchi, the state capital of Jharkhand, where most inhabitants are from tribal, or Adivasi, communities. These people, especially women and girls, have suffered exclusion and marginalisation over generations. Saphara is delighted to be working with two local partners who are bringing a message of hope to adolescent girls through the Girl Champions programme.

Christine reports “After a four-hour jeep journey passing small villages where people struggled to survive, it was wonderful to arrive at ASRA school. Girls in traditional tribal dress danced and drummed as we entered the assembly hall, where 500 girls cheered and clapped – a truly overwhelming welcome!”

“The school is residential as the girls come from remote villages where there is no secondary school. When we began training the teachers in the Emotional Resilience and Health programme, they were very concerned that these girls would not engage with it. ‘They cannot even make eye contact with us teachers, so how will they be able to reflect on their character strengths and learn to value themselves?’ they said.

“Less than two years later the transformation is amazing. The girls are confident and outgoing and when asked to share how the programme had impacted their lives, they queued up to tell their stories.”

Babita had always loved to run – but since coming to the school she not felt brave enough to tell anyone. Through the Girl Champions programme, she gained the confidence to speak up and told a teacher of her love of running. She began training and just a few weeks later she embarked on her lifelong dream, taking part in the 400m at the State athletics championship - where she won Gold medal! This qualified her to take part in the national finals where she impressed everyone by winning a Bronze medal. Babita is a true Saphara Girl Champion!

Manisha shared ‘I come from a rural village where boys are valued much more than girls. When I go home in holiday time, I tell my family and community that girls are as important as boys. Girls should be given education too!’

Padmini says that after the Saphara programme she knows she has many character strengths and that if she works hard, she can do well in her studies. ‘Before I was below 10th place in class – now I am coming third!’

Sharmila was nervous and hesitant until she discovered through the programme that she could be brave. ‘Now I am standing before a crowd with confidence and a group of us decided to take part in a school singing competition. We were amazed when our choir won the State competition! We even got to go to Delhi for the national finals where we came fourth!’


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