Founded in 2005 by Spanish journalist Jaume Sanllorente, Mumbai Smiles is an NGO that works at eradicating poverty and helping people from the lower social income groups in Mumbai to lead a dignified life by undertaking projects in different areas of education, health and awareness. Their latest programme called Seed Project aims to empower women by teaching them different skills that would helpsthem get employed.
“We want to ensure that women use their domestic space. It is almost impossible for poor women who are unskilled and uneducated getting a job in the professional sector. Through this project, we aim to make them qualified to earn a living on their own so that they can contribute to their family and take care of their children,” says Narendra Kumar Dundu, Executive Director of the NGO.
Cause and effect
The project that focuses on women between the age group of 17 to 40 started with a month long beautician course, where 34 women participated in their training sessions. “The situation of women and girls in the slums is very grim as they aren’t the earning members of the family and are more prone to violence and have very little say in decision making in the family. Through this project we aim to empower them, financially so it instills a level of confidence in them. If there is a daughter in the house, the working woman will not make her drop out of school and even encourage her to work later on,” believes Priyanka Tiwari, Project Coordinator.
The NGO enlisted women with the help of local NGOs working around the slums of Andheri by first counselling them about the benefits of working. All the women come from an under privileged section with a low monthly family income. Most are dropouts or girls who are still studying and want to assist their family, financially.
The second training programme, which is currently underway at Sangharsh Nagar in Chandivali, is a month-long course offering retail management skills to women in the age group of 18 to 25 years. The development sessions are conducted in Chandivali with the help of a venue provided by local NGO Nivara Hakk Samiti.
“Initially, it was difficult as they were not willing to come out of their comfort zones. We counselled them and their parents, talking about the benefits of participating in this programme. We are also ready to provide them employment after the session. They finally agreed and are so eager to learn now that when our venue was available due to some Ganpati celebrations, they offered us to conduct the sessions in their homes as they didn’t want to skip it,” says Tiwari.
The programme will be teaching the women on how to deal with customers, basic sales and marketing tips, customer relationship skills and even personality development for the retail sector. Through this programme, Mumbai Smiles aims to provide the women jobs in malls, retail outlets and even coffee shops.
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