Giving Slum Dwellers a
New Direction in Life

The Aparajita Seva Project, under the aegis of Vyakti Vikas Kendra India, was started for the benefit of the slum dwellers near Kalkaji, in New Delhi. Aparajita, or the unconquerable, began with an aim to achieve economic self sufficiency for women. Since then, its activities have progressively embraced all sections of society. Initially, the Project concentrated on adult literacy for women and informal primary education for the slum children. Gradually, it became clear that literacy alone is not always sufficient for finding gainful employment, and attempts were made to impart practical skills to the slum dwellers.

Unemployment and alcoholism are problems which directly affect the women and children in these slum clusters. Since October 2003, the Aparajita Seva Project has been functioning in the Kalkaji Community Centre, with many of the beneficiaries coming from the Bhoomiheen Camp, which is a slum near Kalkaji.

Old and middle aged women, disabled people, polio affected people, people with hearing problems and slow learners are some of the people benefiting from the project. They are trained by qualified teachers in stitching, embroidery and sitara work on sewing machines. Attempts are also made to have them employed by Export Houses. Old women spin yarn on Charkhas or spinning wheels. There is a tie up with the Rachnatmak Seva Sangathan for weaving khadi from the yarn spun by these women. Some of the women are also trained in making paper bags and other hand made items, which are then sold to different companies. Many young women receive training in beauty culture, in order to make them economically independent.

Medical Camps are organized by Aparajita on a regular basis, every Wednesday and Saturday. With the help of Doctors from Rajdhani Mahavir International and South Delhi Rotary Heritage Centre, hundreds of patients are diagnosed, given medicines and spectacles are provided at subsidized rates, along with facilities like ECG, Blood Sugar Test, and Gynaecological Test. An Eye Camp was held on May 18, 2008, with more than three hundred slum dwellers benefiting.

Volunteers are also working in the LSRC Hospital of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases under the Direct Observation Therapy scheme of the Government of India. These Centres are open at odd hours in order to cater to daily wagers. The Volunteers visit the patients’ houses regularly in order to motivate them to come for treatment.

Along with this, spoken English classes are conducted for young girls who are keen to learn the language. Adult literacy classes are also flourishing under the guidance of the TERI (Tata Energy & Research Institute) Literacy Programme. Informal education is imparted to children of all ages in cooperation with Khatha Khazana, which is a school. This includes fine art, which is taught by trained teachers.

Furthermore computer education is provided, which also benefits disabled people. Hue Software donated computers for the project and a polio affected girl conducts classes in computer literacy. During a function held in March 2008, the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia donated five computers for the Aparajita project.

Satsangs and regular councelling sessions are held in order to de-stress the people. . Street plays are organized in order to convey socially relevant messages. A street play on environmental degradation was enacted in the Bhoomiheen Camp by the ‘Mahak’ group.

Networking with other Non Government Organizations is done on a regular basis. Actively participating in the Abilities Mela, which helps make disabled people self reliant, is an annual feature. Being an ongoing project, Aparajita’s work continues at a steady pace.

Women who are part of the project, actively participated in all the events that took place during the ‘Meri Dilli Meri Yamuna’ campaign .These involved cleaning the Yamuna & going from door to door in order to create awareness.

Kamala Nehru College organized an NGO Mela in March 2011 & a stall was set up by ‘Aparajita’. It was an opportunity for the women involved to interact with other Non Governmental Organizations.

Cooking Workshops are also being organized where volunteers of The Art of Living share their culinary skills with the participants. A workshop for making chocolates and arranging flowers was also organized. The purpose of these workshops is to give the participating women a wider choice so that they can make a living in their particular area of interest.

Aparajita has now also collaborated with Board of Technical Education of the Delhi Government. Students are now eligible to get a certificate of the Board of Technical Education, which will add value to their resume.