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Indian Catholic group helps instill confidence among girls

NGO run by Holy Spirit Sisters in Madhya Pradesh is training poor adolescent girls to pursue their dreams
Sister Lizy Thomas, director of Uday Social Development Society, with senior police officials who conducted a training program for adolescent girls in Bhopal city in Madhya Pradesh, central India, on June 29

Sister Lizy Thomas, director of Uday Social Development Society, with senior police officials who conducted a training program for adolescent girls in Bhopal city in Madhya Pradesh, central India, on June 29. (Photo supplied)

Published: June 30, 2022 09:32 AM GMT
Updated: June 30, 2022 09:40 AM GMT

Until a fortnight ago, teenager Priya Sahu did not have the confidence to go to a police station and lodge a complaint.

“Now I am a different person as I have realized my potential and my rights as a citizen of India,” said the 16-year-old girl who studies in class XII at a government higher secondary school in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state in central India.

She is among 107 adolescent girls who attended a 15-day special confidence-building program jointly organized by Uday Social Development Society run by the Holy Spirit Sisters and Bhopal city police at St. Raphael Co-Ed School.

“We are grateful to the nuns and the Bhopal police for the wonderful training,” Sahu told UCA News on June 29, after the conclusion of the program.

Sahu said she was so timid when she joined the training that she couldn’t speak before a small audience. “The police officials encouraged us to shed our inhibitions and realize our real value as human beings. We are not inferior to anyone but individuals with self-respect,” she added.

The teenager dreamt of becoming an army doctor but never had the courage to mention it to anyone. Coming from a poor family, she knew there might be too many hurdles.

“Our main purpose is to motivate the adolescent girls, to help them set goals and muster the courage to chase them"

“But today I have a goal and the confidence to chase it,” said Sahu who is the second among three daughters of her parents — their father is a daily wage laborer and mother a housemaid.

The training also included lessons in self-defense and, as participant Rohini Ahirwar said: “Now we are persons of determination.”

Ahirwar thanked the Catholic nuns for the initiative and the police officials who trained them.

Sister Lizy Thomas, director of Uday Social Development Society, said the non-government organization worked among the poorest of the poor living in slums, especially women and girls who face discrimination.

“Our main purpose is to motivate the adolescent girls, to help them set goals and muster the courage to chase them,” she told UCA News.

Most of the girls who attended the training are poor but determined to pursue education. They have the potential to do well in life provided they are guided to remain on the right track.

The training program held from June 14-29 provided basic information on the Indian constitution, the fundamental rights of citizens, the rights of women and children, and the country’s various laws

“We are helping them along with Bhopal police officials,” the nun said while thanking the city’s police for their time and effort to train the girls.

The training program held from June 14-29 provided basic information on the Indian constitution, the fundamental rights of citizens, the rights of women and children, and the country’s various laws.

Police commissioner Makrand Deoskar, who attended the concluding session, said “girls should be given equal opportunities to grow as free individuals with the same rights as boys.”

He urged their parents to enable the girls in their families to pursue their dreams and achieve their life goals without any kind of hindrances.

Over 750 people attended the concluding session held in the school auditorium.

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