Dedicated to the rights of homeless women, the team at URJA weaves out methods from experience to approach vulnerable adolescents and adults alike. The essence of our work lies in being able to identify their needs, accelerate their transformation and armour them with confidence to strike back.
Our approach, albeit multi- thronged can simply be broken down into three steps.
The team at Urja is very conscious of the need to reach out to homeless young women and ensure that the basic fundamental rights are immediately met such as the need for a safe haven, food and good health.
Stepping out of office and extending support to homeless women have been a crucial part of our outreach endeavour. Dadar, the busiest station in the city is a transit point for many vulnerable young women from different parts of the country. We understand the importance of women not being able to find a safe space by themselves in an unknown city. Therefore, our trained social workers regularly visit Dadar station to identify plausible homeless women and bring them back to Urja.
The immediate crisis that any homeless individual experiences is the lack of a safe space which only amplifies their fragility.
Immediate shelter can restore a person’s sense of security and stalwartness, thereby acting as a cushion against their mental shock. The Urja Crisis Shelter and Short Stay Home at Dadar act as the immediate safety net and the first step for their gradual empowerment.
The stories of most homeless women narrate their horrid experiences of physical, emotional or sexual abuse: violence that takes a psychological and physical toll on them.
We approach health from two perspectives. The mental health is gauged through counselling and therapies. Our co-founder, Rizwana Nulwala, work closely with the girls to understand their emotions, trauma and aids in the process of cognitive rehabilitation and anger management.
In order to restore their battered bodies into vessels of confidence, recreation, physical fitness, regular health check-ups, medication and nutrition have become critical to our management of their physical health.
Urja believes in aiding the process of the beneficiaries’ return to their families, should they wish to at any point in time.
However, as a part of long term commitment, Urja continues to support them through follow-up phone calls and home-visits. We also try to provide educational, health or employment related support as well as counselling based on their needs and aspirations.
Once our women start feeling confident to take on the world, they begin to engage in the transformation process. It is an elaborate journey whereby the women experience a transformation in their bodies, mind and attitudes.
Our education programme is what we like to believe is customised: crafted according to the educational level, interests and strengths of the women we work with.
In the non-formal education set up, it is provided in-house which in turn motivates them to be a part of the formal education system. Literacy, higher education, life skills, leadership skills, vocational training, and physical education are key components of this program.
Livelihoods & Entrepreneurship:
Urja’s livelihood programme includes employment preparation through training in necessary skills and forging linkages with suitable employment opportunities that will provide a potential growth for the women.
At Urja, however, we give a lot of importance to self- reliance. Our focus is on making them independent and through our entrepreneurship programme we teach them skills in tangent with their interests. This in turn allows the leeway for the women to become entrepreneurs in their own rights.
At Urja, we focus on two systems of mentorship. The peer mentorship allows the women to have a mentee and facilitate each other in their journey.
The external mentorship opens up avenues to learn from a trained personnel, as they advance in their lives.
Our beneficiaries need leadership programmes that help them take right decision in their lives and emerge as a confident woman. We arrange regularsessions with reputed social leaders who spend time in understanding these women and guide them towards a better life.
ADVOCACY and AWARENESS GENERATION:
We believe that in our journey our partners contribute excessively to the development of the women.
As a part of awareness generation, we have campaigns where collective discussions are held to alert people about the plight of homeless women in India: Urja conducts several consultative meetings, trainings, and workshops with local stakeholders such as communities and railway police highlighting the issue of homeless young women.
It also includes putting for our points for policy reforms to the government. Through our campaigning effort we also aim to get them their Civil Rights , eg acquire their legal documents like identity proof.
Through our research projects we want to create replicate module of the various projects at Urja, which can be eventually presented to the government and other NGOs.
We are constantly engaging and networking with the other NGOs, government bodies, especially the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) in various capacities. We seek to engage with government stakeholders in order to facilitate the creation of shelter home for homeless young women or girls on the verge of homelessness. Urja also works with human rights lawyers and government/non-government bodies to expand homeless women’s access to civil and political rights.