Wanting to get into the social sector myself, I’d been meaning to visit or volunteer with an NGO to get a better feel of how it functions. Having had heard about Khwaab through a friend, I decided to get in touch with them to see if there was anything I could offer to help them out with.
A call and a few emails later, there I was, walking through the bustling lanes of Mandawali, making it to the Khwaab centre- a humble abode rented out on the first floor. On climbing the stairs, I could see that the women were partaking in a self-help session and we were asked not to interrupt them till the session was over.
So I was led into the sit-out area – a terrace in this case – and I couldn’t help but notice the simplicity of the place. Everybody that was present there also carried the same simplicity. There were a few functional household items, some tailoring machines in the main room, with some raw materials for the products made and the finished goods themselves. The streets outside were filled with the sounds of children playing, motorcycles driving past and people talking. It was as though the suppressing air of the Mandawali community could not penetrate these walls.
I was told that the objective of Khwaab – to teach the women the skills to make them financially independent, improve their family’s standard of living and thereby secure their children’s education- developed from the observations of the co-founders and the needs articulated by the women themselves. After having finished their degrees, each of the core team members joined as Teach for India fellows. It was during this fellowship programme that they came face-to-face with the families, especially the women, who were mostly the mothers of the children they taught at that time. It was when they talked to these women; they realized how hard it was for them, as they possessed no skills to be self-reliant. This was when they decided to dedicate their time to help these women.
When I asked about the women, Pooja mentioned how talented the women are, having transformed into sound craftswomen with a little bit of training and support. At present, they receive a few bulk orders for their products from a few organizations and also sell them through corporate stalls and online sales.
After the session was over, I was introduced to everybody from the Khwaab family and I could tell that there was absolutely nothing that was holding them back. We all sat down together in the end and shared some fruits and some lovely kheer (made by one of the women), before calling it a day with a little dance party of sorts. Those three hours they spend at the centre mean a lot to them because it means they can devote every single minute of it to themselves for their personal well-being.
This young NGO, has provided over twelve women with informal, social, and vocational education and are trying to reach out to more women who are tied down with the shackles of suppression.
When I stepped out of the Khwaab centre that evening, I felt humbled. I knew then and there that my help, by playing a role however big or small would help Khwaab go a long way. And if you are as passionate about the cause as the changemakers of Khwaab are, they would love for you to come and give whatever you have offer and in the end, take a part of Khwaab with you.
It is when we start working together, the real healing takes place.
– Shireen Thomas (Volunteer, Khwaab)