The Social Development Fund (SDF), an Indian full member organisation of IHEYO, held a 2-day workshop in Mohammabad, Ghazipur on August 15th and 16th 2007. The explicitly humanist workshop addressed issues as inculcating the spirit of critical analysis in our life, humanism, rationalism and how we can use these in improving our life.
SDF has a long-standing tradition of bringing these humanist principles into practice. Its programmes, aimed at improving the life of the Dalit community, include a scholarship programme and the provision of computer skills and sewing education.
The workshop offered the opportunity to honour the outstanding performance of two of the girls who benefited from SDF’s efforts. At the same time, a meeting was organised with the parents of the girls and other elders from the community, to instigate the other girls and boys in the community to work harder. The two exemplary girls were deeply moved as they received the bicycles that were promised to them.
V. B. Rawat, SDF’s director, said upon handing out the prizes: “Both for Vibha, whose father wanted to stop her education but who was pursuaded by SDF to continue and for Deepmala (picture), who once demanded a jeans and shirt but felt deeply disappointed by her father’s apprehension of what society would think, August 15th was a day of liberation. Using Ghazipur as a role model, we have decided to send the group from Ghazipur to tour other parts of the state every month or two and ask the community to leave the traditional occupation of manual scavenging and live a life of dignity. SDF is not only using human rights as an instrument, but also developing community leadership to fight against this greatest evil our system.”
Although collecting money remains hard, SDF intends to have 15 girls benefiting from the scholarship programme this school year, and to allow another 40 to learn sewing free of charge.