Empowering girls and women in India - Giving for Good Foundation

Empowered Strokes: Urmila's Journey of Mehndi Mastery

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19-year-old Urmila Yadav lives in a slum community in the north of Mumbai, bordered by a choked creek overflowing with piling garbage. She grew up in this slum, and despite all her family’s struggles, she successfully completed Class 12 at a formal school nearby. Following this milestone though, Urmila’s journey in education came to a hard stop. Further education was a dream beyond her or her family’s finances. All through her schooling years, Urmila quietly nurtured her creative side. She would often observe and admire the beautiful mehndi designs the women artisans in her community created, especially for brides on their wedding day.. She wished she could enrol for a professional Mehndi design course. She even enquired about tutorial courses at beauty salons near her house in the slum, but the course fee was always far too steep.

That’s when Urmila met Vision Rescue, rather Vision Rescue met Urmila! Urmila’s cousin - her aunt’s daughter - was studying in Vision Rescue’s Beacon Learning Centre, and our Case Worker had visited them to conduct a routine house visit assessing their needs. Vision Rescue’s operational model ensures that for every child engaged in our classrooms in education, our team works closely with the child, their family & community providing support services that help sustain the child in education. In our 19 years of operations, we’ve observed that the children who thrive in education are those whose families are financially stable, healthy and empowered to enjoy their rights. While talking to the family members, Urmila shared her wish to learn mehndi professionally with our Case Worker. She opened up about how she had completed schooling, but couldn’t access further education; that her father worked as a daily-waged driver earning an erratic amount each month; her mother worked in the railways earning a small but steady pay monthly. Between them they couldn’t afford to manage their family and finance Urmila’s dreams. Our Case Worker immediately welcomed Urmila into our two-month mehndi course conducted right within her slum community.

Urmila was overjoyed. She could walk right to our classes from her home, and finally fulfil her childhood dream! In the early days of the course, Urmila’s tutor noticed that she would come to class quietly, do her work diligently, and leave without talking to anyone. It was the first time in a long time that Urmila was leaving the confines of her home, joining a group of strangers from her community and learning a completely new skill. Urmila started out by practising the most basic f design, eventually graduating to the hump, the wibble- leaf, the bud, the zig-zag and the fishbone patterns - all using pencil on paper. As much as she enjoyed the classes, she struggled too. Every time she made a mistake, she was discouraged, and her confidence dipped. Within a few weeks though, our tutor noticed Urmila’s attitude change. She had understood that learning a new skill takes practice, and the more you keep at it the better you get!

Encouraged by her peers and our tutor, Urmila gradually blossomed during our classes. She took to chatting with the other learners, sharing her wins with our tutor and celebrating her progress. By the last few weeks of the course, Urmila was acing the Indian, Arabic, Pakistani, Western, Moroccan & bridal mehndi designs being taught. Not only that, she had also grown in confidence, especially during the life skill classes that are conducted alongside every skills training course at Vision Rescue. She learnt about effective communication, greeting others, taking on new challenges and developing a positive mindset. At the end of the course, Urmila appeared for the final mehndi test, and successfully completed that too! At the mehndi Graduation day, Urmila was the happiest woman in the room. "I am very happy that I have been able to give the exam and I have got the certificate," she said. Today, Urmila is the new favourite in her neighbourhood. She takes orders for mehndi from her neighbours, extended relatives and even her friends! She charges Rs. 100 per hand, and she is able to engage and retain new customers, thanks to her new skills in mehndi, as well as all the life skills she learnt on the course. She has also recently begun studying formally again, and her growing skills in professional mehndi could help fund her dreams in further education. Kudos to Urmila for taking on this transformational journey outside her comfort zone, and thank YOU - to the Giving for Good Foundation - for investing into Urmila’s life and dozens of others like her! Your generosity has fuelled a young woman’s dreams into reality and continues to propel many more

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Vision Rescue

Vision Rescue

Giving for Good and Vision Rescue have partnered for a unique campaign to empower youth with job-ready skills. By working hand-in-hand, we're committed to creating sustainable change, and positively impacting the lives of hundreds of individuals from the slum communities of Mumbai.

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