Satya Jyoti Trust is registered under Section 80G and is entitled to carry out work related to environmental security, education and rehabilitation through vocational training.
Being located in a very neglected corner of Mewat, surrounded by marginalised villages, we felt the need to primarily contribute towards:
REHABILITATION OF WOMEN IN NEED
Over the past few years, our activities have focussed on these community building efforts.
In our effort to bring education to the children of the neighbouring village who have never been to a school and to the young women residents of the commune, we were initially supported by the NGO Pratham. Beena from Pratham, spent several months at satya-jyoti with the first group of girls from the village. With their method of teaching, these girls learnt to read and write.
Subsequently, Sumi came to stay for some months. Not only did she contribute to the learning process, she provided invaluable guidance to the older girls on the farm who were being rehabilitated.
Although we have constructed a school room and have all the study material, we have not yet found an individual who is willing to stay on the farm long term and teach for the love of shaping young lives. We do not intend to create a formal school which will give a degree at the end, but an informal learning environment, which can help the children to read and write and imbibe an awareness by experience. As a part of this learning process, we have taken them on day trips to the city which has been more enriching than any class-room study can be.
At present, the Trust provides Scholarships to underprivileged girl students for college education.
We started a training centre for younger girls and untrained women from the village. They were taught to use a sewing machine and basic pattern making, cutting and embroidery.
There are no formal classes or schedule as the girls often have to stay home to attend to the many chores of looking after their younger siblings, collecting firewood or working in the fields. The timings are flexible to suit their needs.
In the process of their learning, they start with using all the left-over scraps of fabric and make large patch-work pieces which are then used to teach them to make different products, primarily blankets.
We have donated sewing machines to the girls who have received training and we encourage them to make their 'Gudari' a commercially viable project. A 'Gudari' is a patchwork quilt made with layers of old fabrics and stitched down with running stitches. They have been making it for years for personal use, but to make it a income generating venture, they need design input, time planning and a market, in India or abroad.
Over the years, we organised health camps with the collaboration of Dr. H S Gandhi and Dr. Simran of Gandhi hospital, Tapukdah, and Dr. Gilbert and team from France, in order to address immediate and chronic health issues. The focus was on women and children's health which dealt with malnutrition, low haemoglobin, skin ailments, diabetes...among many others.
While we were able to save Runni's legs from Gangerene, we were unable to save the life of baby Sheetal.
Our single biggest support for these activities has been Virginia Soukup, a friend from France.
They are the survivors who have been through immense trauma and have had to leave their homes and villages.
These women represent many in India who suffer various forms of deprivation early in life but are the fortunate few who find refuge and support through the efforts of dedicated women lawyers, activists and psychologists. Kavita Srivastav from Jaipur is one of them.
Satya-jyoti provided them with secure housing and all the basic resources that are available.... food, medical facilities, clothing, entertainment, education. However, they were encouraged to work to earn their own income and spend or save according to their needs.
They chose the work that best suited their temperament but were encouraged to participate and learn those tasks as well which they found difficult
and challenging. The responsibilities include sewing, working outdoor in the fields, cooking, bee-keeping, making preserves and pickles, teaching...
BY MARCH 2014, all the women have moved on with their lives... We can only hope that they are happy and settled wherever they are now. We have also temporarily shut down the sewing centre on the farm. The last to leave are Bhanwar, Manju and their two daughters. They have gone back
to Bikaner, their original home town, to manage a garment unit for Rangsutra.
The clothes that we made at Satya Jyoti were unique in the sense that they were 100% handmade, with Natural fabrics which had been made by other Livelihood Projects (NGO's) and were therefore mostly hand loom woven and vegetable dyed. Either that or they were recycled fabrics and left over scraps.
With these and with foot treadle sewing machines and coal irons, we made high fashion clothes for the international market.
Soon we had Fair Trade collaborators who came to us and thanks to them, we were exposed to Parisian Ethical Fashion world and we participated in the Paris Ethical Fashion event every year. Presenting ourselves on an international platform of that stature, helped us to draw attention to the needs of the community we were working with and as a result it brought in support in the form of funds, medical camps, volunteers and our products kept getting better.
We were also given a small retail space in Gurgaon by a benefactor and for several years we sold our Satya Jyoti clothes from there.
Unfortunately, we do not make clothes any more but it makes us very happy when people ask us if they can buy the clothes we made.