For the final part of our International Women’s Day series, we’re meeting Neena, a teacher at Romil Sewa Sanstha. One of the many organisations supported by the Monsoon Accessorize Trust, this non-governmental social service centre in New Delhi, India provides integrated remedial welfare to women and children living in India’s poorest slums – here’s the story behind it…
“Back in 1992, my mother, Romil Sethi, set up a voluntary organisation which was then called the Radico Welfare Centre,” Neena tells us. “Its primary aim was – and still is – to contribute to the welfare of socially and economically-deprived people living in slums which lack basic education and health facilities.”
Neena’s mother sowed the seeds of a small school which was run in two small classrooms with a handful of children from poor communities. As well as providing children access to education, the centre also helps women find sustainable employment. Neena explains: “There is also a sewing centre in the school where women can learn to sew to find a job and become financially independent. At the end of their diploma, they are each gifted a sewing machine.”
“In 2010, I started working alongside my mother. We partnered with the Monsoon Accessorize Trust and with its help, we were able to bring about effective changes,” Neena says. “Initiated by Peter Simon, we set up the Create a Future program, which was has been running at the centre for the past seven years, in collaboration with the Balwant Rai Mehta School, also in New Delhi. Encouraging merit, talent and hard work, each year we select a few students from the graduating class to attend Balwant Rai Mehta, which provides excellent education. This gives them a better shot at following their dreams. We now have 30 students under the program and the number is increasing. Some of them have now gone to college or taken on specialist courses. They will be provided for until they enter work and contribute to the program so that the cycle continues. For me, this is the most memorable achievement within the charity.”
“Today the school’s name has been changed to Monsoon Kids and the organisation is called Romil Sewa Sanstha as a tribute to my mother’s selfless dedication.”
When we asked Neena what motivates her, she told us that her mother’s hard work and dedication has been a huge inspiration. “I want to make the school a haven for students where are numerous activities and fun things to do, such as computer classes and picnics, as well as lessons. Along with the other teachers, my passion runs deep in my veins. I want to help create a brighter future for the children,” Neena says. “Ultimately, we want to transform lives and bring about a change in India. We want a more inclusive country where every child from the slums is empowered to play a positive part in India’s economy, society and politics.”
Better the balance, better the world.
Discover more about International Women’s Day #BalanceforBetter campaign here.