Dec 2015 – Chennai Flood Relief

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Thank you for responding to WOW’s email appeal to support people affected by floods in Chennai. WOW was able to respond to the immediate needs of people in Chennai and Cuddalore, by donating blankets, clean drinking water, donating to flood relief and rescue projects in the city. Through your generous contribution we were able to touch the lives of about 500 people and respond to their urgent needs.

Since our last request, Chennai experienced more devastation through continual torrents of rain for more than a week. The situation in Chennai is unprecedented and people in the city were completely horrified by a disaster of this proportion. Chennai was totally unprepared to deal with rain of this magnitude which has left many low-income families without food, possessions, or any place to call home.

The Focus – Health and Hygiene

We have initiated a process to address the needs of women and children in a few select areas with low-income groups in places like Ramavaram, Perumgudi, Washermapet and Kilpauk. To start with, we have a goal of handing out Hygiene Kits with items like soap, disinfectants, Mosquito Repellent, tooth paste, tooth brush, diapers, sanitary napkins, underwear, first-aid kit etc


Personal Hygiene for Women

  • Soaps
  • Disinfectant (Dettol or Savlon)
  • Tooth brush & paste
  • Underwear
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Energy Drink (Horlicks)

First Aid for the family

  • Electrolyte (to prevent dehydration)
  • Band-aids
  • Odomos (mosquito repellent)
  • Whitefields antibacterial Foot ointment

Additional items for families with kids

  • Diapers
  • Baby sweaters, blankets and clothes

Medical Camp:

We are also rallying a group of specialized doctors to meet the rising need for medical attention at the moment. Flooding and stagnation has left the city’s residents at great risk of contracting air-borne and water-borne diseases. Our priority is to look out for the health of women and children.

We wish to inform those of you who generously responded to our earlier appeal that we will be directing all the relief funds towards these efforts. We will soon be sending you a detailed report on how your money was spent as WOW team is busy responding to the on-going situation in Chennai.

WOW is looking for individual and corporate partnerships for its mission to provide hygiene and health needs for women and children of low-income groups.

Please be assured that all the donations received in kind or cash will be used appropriately. The donors will receive due acknowledgement along with a report on how the donation was used.

Ways To Give

Donate In Kind

To donate in kind by supplying us with materials needed for the hygiene kit please write to wow@womenofworth.in

Donate From Within India

Online Transfer Details:

Account Name: Women of Worth – A unit of Provide
Account Number: 50100113961963
Bank: HDFC Bank Ltd, Kottivakkam, HDFC0000500

Donate Via Cheques:
To be drawn in favour of Women of Worth – A Unit of Provide

Donate From Overseas

Please write to wow@womenofworth.in

Nov 2015 – WOW’s Chennai Flood Relief

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Dear Friends and Supporters,

Many of you have been inquiring about the devastation the monsoon rains have caused here in Chennai. We truly appreciate your concern.

The much awaited monsoon which was expected to cool the city and fill its water reservoirs ended up causing a lot of damage to people and property.

Chennai has received the highest rainfall in the last 10 years. Due to severe flooding people from various parts of the city were evacuated with rescue boats. Though there are many proactive Government and Non-Profit led relief initiatives to help restore the loss, it is somehow never enough at such a time as this.

 

WOW would like to respond to the situation by doing our bit here by providing blankets, mats, tarpaulin covers to people in some of the badly affected areas surrounding the WOW office and especially in the Home where we run our Rehabilitation project.  Due to severe flooding the Home has been inaccessible to our staff for the last 5 days. This home houses around 300 girls and we are in need of blankets and hygiene kits. We also hope to conduct a couple of medical camps in the weeks to come to respond to expected bouts of Malaria, Dengue and other Viral Flu common during this season.

Here is a quick glance at the immediate needs:
Donate Now
You will receive due acknowledgement and a report with pictures detailing how your contribution was used.

If you would like to donate towards this monsoon relief project, kindly use the following methods:

Local Funds (within India):

Online Transfer Details:
Account Name: Women of Worth – A unit of Provide
Account Number: 50100113961963
Bank: HDFC Bank Ltd, Kottivakkam, HDFC0000500

Cheques:
To be drawn in favour of Women of Worth – A Unit of Provide

 

Foreign Contributions:

Please write to wow@womenofworth.in

Look forward to your generous gesture!

Seen above are images of stagnant water outside the Home.
Donate Now

Off to School!

By Kavitha Emmanuel

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn around. 
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Polish the shoes.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Off to school.

Here’s a cute rhyme we teach kids to motivate them to go to school. But our children aren’t teddy bears in the first place and they need more than just ‘shoes’ to go to school.

As parents, let’s make sure that our kids are well-prepared to face the next year in school.

Schools Safety Blog Post-02I want to urge parents everywhere to not just look out for your child’s academic performance but also for their physical safety and emotional well-being as well. This will go a long way in grooming your child to be the best that they can be.

Parents have talked to me about their child being bullied in school for their skin colour. Children hurt within when they see their ‘fairer’ siblings or friends get more attention and are chosen for school performances. One parent recalled how no one wanted to sit next to her child in school because she was dark. I have spoken to grown-ups who have shared how this bias forced them to retreat into a shell or has affected their sense of self-esteem.

Our child needs our attention towards their emotional needs. Let’s not ignore them. Let’s not forget to speak words of affirmation and love every day!   If there is any clear instance of skin colour bias in the child’s school please do address it with their teacher and school authorities.

Another area we need to watch out for is the child’s physical safety at school. Talk to your child about safety. Don’t simply give out instructions like: ‘don’t go there!’ or ‘don’t talk to strangers.’ Spend time talking with them about why those instructions are important. This can be done without instilling fear into the child but for the purpose of inculcating good sense and understanding. There are numerous resources and counseling material available to aid parents with these tough conversations.

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Please remember that most often physical abuse happens in known surroundings with known people. The abuser often wins the trust of the child and the family. Don’t ignore a child’s comments like: ’the driver gave me a chocolate and only me’ or ‘I don’t like the way my teacher hugs me’ or even ‘don’t ask uncle to pick me up. I don’t like waiting at their place till you come home’. Let us listen, observe, and see if the child is trying to communicate something beyond those words. Watch out for changes in behavior and emotional outbursts!

Learning to listen to our children’s emotional needs is as important as meeting their physical needs. We live in a more complicated world than we were used to as children. Children have increased access to media with a growing need to discern these media messages every day. We live busier lives today which may lead to missing our children’s warning signals. Let’s cultivate the habit of spending quality time with our children. Set aside a few minutes every day where each child gets undivided attention and support to say what they want without fear of rejection. Let them feel listened to. Let them know that they can come to us when they are in trouble or when they are feeling blue. Our children need to learn to handle LIFE and not just focus on grades.

Join our campaigns and stay aware!

 

About The Author

Photo by: www.vijaypix.com

Kavitha Emmanuel is the Founder and Director of Women of Worth. Since 2009 she has been changing mindsets nationally and globally to end skin colour bias with the Dark is Beautiful campaign. In 2013 she began advocating safety for women and children through the Girl Arise campaign. Ms. Emmanuel has also initiated the Safe Schools Project that equips schools to proactively engage in creating safe campuses for their students.

To order Colour Blind T-Shirts write to disbcampaign@womenofworth.in with “Tee-order” as the subject line. Delivery only within India

 

 

 

Standing Proudly in the Sunshine

By Sharon Muthu

The Sunshine Paradox

It was a beautiful, sunny, typical Southern California day. After a couple weeks of cold and rainy weather, it was a joy to see Los Angeles back to its usual balmy splendor: Flowers blooming, the sweet scent of summer in the air, and Californians overjoyed to be outside, wearing their light breezy attire, adorned in sunglasses, and sipping iced coffees.

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Stand Proudly in the Sunshine

I had been craving the sunshine for many days now, and couldn’t wait to get outside. I hurried to throw on a loose-fitting t-shirt and workout pants, and practically ran to the front door, my little doggy trailing close behind me, his tail wagging uncontrollably. With child-like joy, the two of us headed outside. That first breath of summer-like air was heaven, perfumed with jasmine and fresh-cut grass. The glorious California sun hit my face for the first time in days; warm, bright, soul-soothing. I smiled, breathing deeply, and shut my eyes to soak it all in.

Suddenly I heard a nagging voice echo from somewhere deep inside me, full of fear as it abruptly eclipsed my happiness: I better put a hat on & stay in the shade, or my skin might get too dark.

Using Positive Self Talk

“Whoa! What was that?!,” I thought, alarmed as my eyes sprung open. Immediately, a stronger inner-voice overtook the nagging one: “STOP! Sharon Muthu, you get that negative, old, toxic, incorrect thought out of your mind now. You know that it has no validity. You are smarter than that. You are braver than that.”

Whew. I stood for a moment truly shocked, because thoughts like that are very rare for me these days. I’ve come to embrace and love my dark skin over the years. Yet there it was; The horrible result of old-world conditioning that was somehow still lingering in the back of my mind, sneaking up on me like a knee-jerk reaction at the very mention of the word “sunshine.”

I was grateful for the voice of truth had come to my rescue. I had to tell myself, “These negative thoughts are toxic and false. I will not perpetuate such nonsense for myself or anyone else. I am smarter than that. I am braver than that. I will enjoy this long-awaited sunshine because it is natural and beautiful. And, whether or not my skin turns darker remains irrelevant, for I will still be beautiful, regardless.”

And once more, grounded in this absolute truth, my little dog and I set off for a long morning walk, happily drenched in the Southern California sunlight.

Colourism Buried Deep Inside Me

As I walked on, I reflected on the momentary inner-conflict that had just occurred. What was that voice of doubt and shame? When did it begin? Why does it sometimes rear its ugly head even when I’m feeling so happy and confident about myself? Why do I continue to face the demons and battle the ghosts of my childhood?

I am still my six-year-old self hearing my South Asian community elders telling me to, “Always keep out of the sun if you don’t want to be dark.”  I am still the twelve-year-old adolescent girl being bombarded by ads for creams and scrubs, promising beauty (and ultimately, validation) by virtue of lighter skin. I am still the twenty-year-old young woman who hears others saying condescendingly, “Sharon, you’re very dark, but still pretty enough.” And, today, I am a grown woman who is deeply affected by the constant battles of racism & skin-colour bias that plague every culture, at every level of society.

sharon-for-blogA Little  Sunshine On Your Face

My friends, change begins with us: It begins within our own families, within our communities, with how we teach our children. But, most importantly, it begins within our individual minds.

I can tell you from experience, it does get easier. The more I reaffirm these truths for myself each day, the more it becomes effortless to do so. The more I help to spread awareness, the more awareness I receive in my own journey. The more I see beauty in others, no matter our similarities or differences, the more beautiful I feel within myself. And, suddenly, those negative thoughts fade from my mind more quickly than ever before.

So, raise your voices loudly and proudly: We are ALL beautiful, just the way we are. And, I promise you – A little sunshine on your face won’t ever change that.

About the Author:

Sharon Muthu is an actress, voiceover artist, and singer, based out of Los Angeles, CA. She serves as the “Ambassador to Hollywood” for the international awareness campaign, Dark is Beautiful. She strongly supports and encourages the rise of ethnic diversity in Hollywood, and she hopes to be a prominent part of the next chapter of South Asian talents being featured in mainstream American entertainment.

We Are Unique and We Are Equal

KaviRitikaBy Kavita Emmanuel | Founder and Director, WOW

 

Happy Women’s Day 2015 to all the women out there!

These wishes come from a heavy heart but with all sincerity that I can muster at a time when India is shocked at her own attitude towards women.

“We have the best culture. In our culture there is no space for a woman,” says ML Sharma.

Do you wonder what goes on in people’s mind when they make such statements? Do they really hold on to such archaic world views? Have we not progressed with all the awareness surrounding us on gender equality?

Should Leslie Udwin’s film be released? – is the hot debate at the moment in the country. Frankly, I am more shocked by what the defense lawyers, ML Sharma and AP Singh, have said.

Can our lawyers use male chauvinism, misogyny, and patriarchy as a legal defense for rape and murder?  How does condoning acts of violence against women and blaming these actions on culture not bring us shame beyond recovery? On the other hand, are these defenses mere excuses to not allow the finer, mature side of human nature to take over one’s baser instincts?

To me, this statement is the essence of a fallen human nature; a human behavior that so vehemently and arrogantly parades its desire to manipulate and oppress fellow humans.

My greatest fear is this: Why isn’t everyone infuriated by these statements or do some people in some sense agree with what is being said?  How long will we continue to hear: “A girl should be home before 6,” or “Boys will be boys,” or “her dress invites trouble.”

 

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Government schemes for the empowerment of women, new laws to protect women and the campaigns for equality by women for women focus on one half of the gender equation. There is another half that we can no longer ignore. For too long we have ignored the empowerment of men. The truth is that most men today pathetically display their need to be empowered.

We need to send the message of equality to our boys in our schools and colleges who are so accustomed to seeing gender based discrimination play out right before their eyes.

If we do not address gender inequality now, we will continue to raise male leaders and influencers endorsing the same old dehumanizing attitude towards women.

If we do not address gender inequality now, our generation will have a hand in perpetuating the norm that says empowerment is good so as long as it does not challenge gender roles and a man’s place in society.

Our boys need to be taught to question societal norms that limit women. They need to come alongside us women to stand up and say: Men and women, we are equal. Men and women, together we can reclaim the dignity, value and worth that belong to women.