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Holy Spirit Sisters support women’s development in Madhya Pradesh

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Bhopal (AsiaNews) – In India “women have the same right as men to learn and must use every opportunity to train and become independent,” said S R Gajre, director of Star Swarojgar Yojna, an NGO based in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh.

On Sunday, he took part in an event organised by Uday Community Development Programmes of the Uday Social Development Society. Uday means dawn in Hindi.

The group was established more than 15 years ago by the Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit to help women and girls living in local slums.

The event was held in Sirpur, about 35 km from the city of Khandwa. At least a hundred women, teenagers and female leaders participated, including from self-help groups.

The goal was to stress the importance of motivating women to get professional training, which can provide them with the skills to enter the labour market, earn a living, and support their family.

Star Swarojgar Yojna president said that at least 16 girls in the Uday programmes have decided to enrol in the association’s courses on cosmetic treatment, sewing and computer literacy.

The courses, which began yesterday, last from a minimum of 15 days to a maximum of one month, depending on the chosen field.

According to Sabbir Khan, a journalist present at the event, “we need to make parents understand the importance of education for girls and young women because education is the key to success in life.”

The Uday Social Development Society is a Catholic NGO committed to improving the living conditions of domestic workers living in the slums of Bhopal, Indore, Khandwa and Jhabua.

Since it opened in 2009, it has welcomed around 25 to 30 girls and young women every year, especially school dropouts.

From the nuns, the students learn various skills that can easily land them a job: tailoring, embroidery, knitting, cooking and home economics.

For Society president Sr Lizy Thomas, the goal of the programme is “to ensure that girls become agents of social transformation in their villages. We trained about 200 girls who had left school and explained to their parents that they should not marry off their daughters before the age of 18.”

The Congregation of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit was established in the Netherlands in 1889 by Saint Arnold Janssen, a priest of German origins.

In India, the Sisters are divided into four provinces: in southern India, they work in 19 communities; in central India, in 17 communities; in eastern India, in 12 communities; and in northern India, in 11 communities. In all, about 300 nuns live in the country.

The congregation is active with almost 3,000 missionaries in 60 countries all over the world.

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