There are many influences that led Surabhi Yadav to found Sajhe Sapne (Shared Dreams), a social enterprise that provides comprehensive support to women from marginalized backgrounds to launch their careers in the modern workforce.

Her parents instilled in her a strong sense of service. You remember in an interview with India’s best.

There is the variance she has seen in women’s experiences throughout her life. While her mother was studying till 8th grade, Surabhi earned a dual master’s degree – MTech in Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology from IIT – Delhi, and MA in Development Practice from UCLA.

On the other hand, she saw her extended family in Madhavpura in Bundelkhand engaged in agriculture, where most of the women – her bhabhis, chachis, And cousins ​​- don’t study at all. “When you live in four worlds like this, something happens inside. You realize what’s important and you search for your sense of rootedness.”

These women, who put in an incredible amount of hard work and put in a lot of emotional effort, had very few expectations of themselves.

They will ask her for a job as a maid in her office. “There is nothing wrong with such professions, except that they do not truly value your emotional, professional, and intellectual growth.”

Sajhe Sapne students learn chess at the Sapna Centre
Sajhe Sapne students get holistic development at the campus residing in Himachal. All photos provided by Surabhi Yadav

This made Surabhi think about how everyone will live a better life if these women live up to their potential. “We’re losing their ideas, their worldviews, their creativity… There’s a whole population that’s desperate to learn and create and turn into something good. And you don’t even care about it. It’s everyone’s loss.”

In 2020, when doing COVID relief work, I came across Pula in Bihar, who wanted to study – something no one else around her was interested in. Every day at 12 noon, Surabhi had a conference call with Phola and four other girls, none of whom had access to the Internet, and taught them skills needed in the professional field, such as sending email, finding jobs, networking, and more.

Soon after, the 31-year-old launched Sajhe Sapne with a residential campus in Himachal Pradesh, where girls are educated and thoroughly developed to enter the job market. All 25 girls from their first cohort had jobs upon graduation, with a minimum monthly salary of 15,000 rupees. While a few of them struggled to keep their jobs, Sajhe Sapne instilled in them a sense of confidence and resilience. “No one has stopped trying,” she says, “I can vouch for this.”

vision of empowerment

Sajhe Sapne started out clear. Surabhi envisions a place – or lots of places – where girls can ask questions, play, teach and learn. Just as PHCs serve the body, such a place will serve the heart, mind and soul. These spaces are calledWe cursed positions. “These are the centers where learning, laughing, creating, wondering, and finding opportunities for growth for yourself and others are familiar.”

The girls who inhabit these will be called Spinwallis – Rural women with a fire in the belly but their resources are limited. They are encouraged to build We cursed dals, which is their support system, a group or team of people who get excited as they get older and move on.

Surabhi’s vision is to create “dreams The centers’ are in every village in the country, making them an integral part of village life.

She started building her team and getting donations through a crowdfunding campaign, and collected Rs 26 lakh in three days. the first ‘We cursed center’ in Kandbari village in Himachal.

Real dreams students learn
Students learning at Sajhe Sapne Campus

Besides creating community spaces, Saji also empowers women through education.

Today, for the many rural women who have made the effort and investment to study through Grade 12, there are few options ahead. The most obvious future for the majority of girls is marriage. “There are courses for sewing, embroidery and beautification. All these models do not pay attention to growth. They have become an economic machine. They will increase their income. But what about their aspirations, sense of self, and potency?”

These girls with a passion for education are identified by a network of community organizations that NGOs collaborate with within the villages, and are invited to the Himachal campus for a nine-month training course.

At the moment, Sajhe offers three courses. The first is Umang, which focuses on development management, creating pathways for students to work in NGOs or the social sector. The second is Arohan, which offers elementary mathematics education, enabling students to become teachers in the subject. The third is Tarang, who teaches web development. They are also working on creating more courses.

Not only does Sajhe design courses, but he also works to create an educational culture. By giving them access to professional networks and spaces, they ensure students have the training and confidence to become capable enough to find jobs for themselves.

Gain skills sajhe sapne girls
Students learn at the Sapna Centre

For example, there is Anjali from Rajasthan, who studied up to class 12 and started her bachelor’s degree. Besides, I also started the course in Sajhe. “After the nine-month course, I got a job as a field researcher in Takachar. It is often difficult for girls in villages to get a job after a nine-month course. But this is what happens in Sajhe Sapne after the course.”

While working hard to educate herself, Anjali learned confidence and refinement in Sajhe Sapne. “I learned a lot of things, like communication skills, so the other person will be interested and pay attention to what I have to say.”

The ideology that fuels the idea

“The focus is that we look to you as adults. We will look to you for responsibility and accountability,” Surabhi says. The big problem today, she notes, is that society simply does not trust rural women to be educated. “It is easy to open a tailoring and tailoring center because it is a repetitive job, So she can do that. Why not open a strategy management course for her? ”

Saji challenges this view by starting with the bottom line, which these women can definitely do. And when you truly believe in their potential, you will provide a quality education.

This education is designed with prospective students in mind. “We provide comprehensive support in launching jobs in the modern workforce, from mobilizing sapnewalis to designing content and a culture of learning that is truly suited to rural women,” says Surabhi. For example, while the world is progressing in web development, there is no word for it in Hindi. “So someone has to produce knowledge in a way that is of high quality and accessible to rural women.”

Real Dreams students receive rounded training
Sajhe Sapne students get a quality education, through a holistic approach

Sajhe has a holistic approach, and its main vision is to create paths of growth, rather than just milestones like getting a job. This means that as time and effort increase, five things must increase for sapnewali – say (agency), skills, salary, support, and satisfaction.

“We want to make it a norm for a girl to wear a strategic salwar suit in a big office. We want to make sure they have a choice about where they want to grow it.”

Learn more about their work at website

Edited by Divya Sethu


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