I have just completed work with it, and yet, it has not left me as I write this. And it not leaving me is the very reason I write this! I worked with an NGO this summer and the NGO in question is Akshara. Akshara-coming from the Marathi word ‘Akshar’ which means ‘the Alphabet’. Akshara believes in the philosophy that ‘Knowledge Empowers’.
Akshara , a Mumbai based NGO that deals with women’s causes was formed out of the 1980’s contemporary women’s movement and was formally established in 1995,out of the primary need for sufficient gender-based reading material.
Akshara’s initiatives can be broadly classified into 3 sectors:
For Change Initiatives
Akshara trains young men and women from 9 low resource colleges, educating them via different media on Gender Issues and also training them to take up causes.
Against Violence Against Women
This sector has contributed in a big way really!
Akshara had taken up the lead in pestering the Mumbai police to establish an exclusive helpline & control room for women and also trained 214 police personnel to man the helpline and document each call. The 103 Helpline is a reality now!! The Police will be at your door or at the site within a span of 20mins and you need not disclose your identity.
Another sector is the ‘Information For Transformation’ which provides Educational Scholarships and deals with Online Education, Mobile Libraries, and a Reference Library.
Along with all this, the organization participates in relief work. It greatly contributed during the Times of Tsunami and The Mumbai Floods of 2005.
Akshara initiates Inter-Movement Dialogue as a part of ‘World Social Forum’ and has its own publication house with a list of books and videos to its credit. With a team of 21 members, Akshara is a small organization with big dreams. Nevertheless, it has already scaled heights towards achieving its dream of ‘A Just And A Violence Free Society’with much vigor!