The spark for Kshamata was lit from the experiences of Bharathy Tahiliani, a young social worker who supported one such woman and found the change she could bring to the life of that one person. Sushma* (name changed) changed from an embittered defeatist person to one who was self-confident, determined to make a new life for herself, and to face the world with the skills she had developed in the course of the interaction with Bharathy. And from these interactions arose the idea – if one person alone could make a difference, how much more could an empowered organisation do, how many more women could be transformed?
The process of setting up took time. Bharathy was still finding her wings in her own career, and needed to develop deeper understanding and improve her own skills in managing an organisation, and she also needed other like minded persons to come together and form the organisation she had dreamed of. Finally, in July 2011, Kshamata was formally born, with Bharathy and Carmeline Christopher – a friend, associate and companion in the effort – as Trustees. The first steps were also arduous, with the process of meeting well wishers and supporters, shelter homes – Government and NGO run, training providers, and, most important, people who could help in future placements.
Over the past one and a half years the path has been slow and sometimes meandering – but filled with a sureness of purpose and a sense of direction. Today Kshamata has got its first half-way home physically established, with a capacity to support 8 people’s accommodation, counselling and training. It has also initiated training in two areas – baking and paper bag making – after exploring half a dozen potential opportunities. Kshamata’s realisation is that while placement would be possible, initially the women need constant support at the workplace as well – which means an internship at a common location where Kshamata can exercise some supervision. And hence it becomes necessary to have a production centre where certain products are produced and the women enabled to work in real-life work conditions for 3-6 months before they are ready to take on the challenge of working in the outside world.
And hence Kshamata – developing the confidence, self-worth and skills (life skills and employment skills) among the women.In the context of women in distress, or subject to exploitation, Kshamata (capacity, confidence) must also encompass Kshama (forgiveness). – the women need to forgive the past and forge ahead in a new life. We therefore believe in this interpretation of Kshamata – capability to live a life of self-confidence & self-worth, dignity, and economic freedom to enable such lives for the women concerned.
The dream of Kshamata is to emerge as one of the premier organizations providing all round survivor centric support, ranging from psycho-social care, half-way home, and support for women after training and placement till satisfactory social and economic integration has been reached and sustained for a given period of time.