Delhi is home to more than 7 million children and adolescents. Close to 50% of them live in slums and unauthorized resettlement colonies. Jagdamba Camp, where Swechha works, is a slum community originally intended to be temporary, located in the middle of Delhi’s richest localities. It is more than 30 years old and is built around an open drain. Residents of Jagdamba Camp have migrated to Delhi from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Harsh living conditions in this slum and the absence of opportunities, role models, family and community support makes the transition from adolescence to adulthood difficult. Many young people take up jobs that are perceived as ‘demeaning’ by society and they find it impossible to question and change societal/cultural norms and views related to their employment. Many girls start working as domestic helpers at a very young age. They lack the basic education and skills to get better employment or create their own livelihoods.
Swechha began in 2000 as a young people’s campaign to raise awareness about pollution in the River Yamuna and on youth participation and active citizenship. It has 3 active themes: Environment and Education, Youth and Civil Society, and Governance and Active Leadership. Its mission is to inspire, support and create a just, equitable and sustainable society. Its 8 current programs include Pagdandi, a community based non-formal alternative learning program for children and adolescents of Jagdamba Camp. These programs focus on education, empowerment and employability, with the vision to supplement formal education, help youth become empowered and increase their employability by developing their knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes. Swechha has active linkages to the market through their various programs (for example, Green the Gap produces and markets upcycled products made by community workers or other small producer groups in high-end locations, see www.swechhastore.com). The Executive Director, Vimlendu Jha is a dynamic leader, who built the organization after working at CNN as a video volunteer for years. The program coordinator, Deeksha Bhatia, began her career in advertising and has worked on programmatic development of all Swechha’s verticals since 2012.
EMpower's sunset grant to Swechha will help support 150 youth (10-24, 60% girls & 40% boys) in receiving (1) life-skills education, (2) remedial learning support to continue with their secondary school education, and (3) mental health interventions to strengthen their coping skills against the backdrop of COVID-19’s continuing disruptions. It will also engage parents, local communities, and mentors in creating an enabling, safe environment for young people to feel heard and understood. To ensure sustainability, Swechha will also hire to develop a second in-line leadership, build a stronger team, and strengthen its fund-raising strategies, while also creating assets that document the success and impact of the ‘Me to We’ program for future collaborations.
Primary Location: New Delhi
Funded Since: 2014
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