It is that day of the year when I remember Kamala, my mother. Last year on this very day I dedicated our women centre to her. Kamala was an extraordinary woman in more ways than one, a true free spirit in times were women were often relegated to the shadows. She was passionate about many things but what she cherished the most was education, something she achieved with great difficulty and strife. When I decided to open a women centre it had to be dedicated to her memory. Today one year down the line, it is time to ask whether the women centre is worthy of the one whose name it bears.
The Kamala centre is a placed filled with joy, laughter and a palpable energy. In the span of a short year it has over 200 children and long waiting lists. Over 50 women come each day to learn stitching of beauty skills to enable them to slowly take the road to financial independence. One a week there is a women's meeting where many topical and sometimes. disturbing issues are debated while sipping tea and nibbling on biscuits. Till now the women have talked about gender bias, child abuse, women's rights, girl child, HIV and much more. Simpler issues have also been discussed: hygiene, balancing household budgets, saving, immunisation and insurance. On a lighter vein and on popular demand there was also a pasta cooking session where the women were taught how to make pasta in tomato sauce!
The Kamala centre also has a library, that is even open on Sundays. The children are thrilled and consider the library as one of their most precious possession. Not a single book has been torn or misplaced. The Kamala centre is a vibrant place. It is not simply a study centre but a true children centre, one that they consider their very own. They celebrate festivals and come to play in it after working hours. It is a place where children know they can reclaim their right to be children and they do!
The centre may be just a year old but it is imbued by Kamala's spirit and a reflection of all she believed in. It holds in custody the dreams of aspirations of a many: children on their way to a new tomorrow; women slowly getting empowered. It is a place where people of all caste, creed, social background come together as one in a true celebration of life itself.