FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Diana Iles Parker
(US) 415.388.8281 (o)
(US) 415.225.8121 (c)
Evidence-based Program a “first” for children living in Gujarat’s slums
Surat, India – January 27, 2011 – CorStone, a U.S.-based nonprofit, kicked-off a 5-day training in Surat, India today to prepare fifty school teachers and community workers to conduct its Children’s Resilience Program with a thousand impoverished adolescent girls in Gujarat. According to M. Daniel Macwan, executive director of the local Swaman Trust, more than 100 additional women were turned away from the training due to lack of space.
The majority of girls selected for enrollment in the program are from the ‘Dalit’ caste – so-called ‘untouchables’ – whose families have been defined by abject poverty and discrimination for hundreds of years. CorStone will work with local partners, Garib Mahila Sangthan of the Slum Dwellers Federation – Surat, and the Swaman Trust which provide services and training to women in slum communities.
“This program builds on the positive results we saw from our pilot program with at-risk adolescent girls in 2009-2010 in New Delhi where we saw strong improvements in mental health, self-esteem, school attendance, and the girls’ ability to effectively handle problems and focus on their studies,” said Steve Leventhal, Executive Director of CorStone. “We’re very excited to implement this first-of-its-kind program in partnership with the Slum Dwellers Federation and Swaman Trust. They have worked very hard with us to put this program together and we’re very appreciative of their efforts”.
All one thousand girls will participate in the CorStone six-month weekly curriculum, which contains exercises and support groups proven to build self-esteem, coping skills, and to reduce susceptibility to depression and trauma. And, all the girls learn simple tools demonstrated to foster values of empathy and compassion, reduce conflict, strengthen social bonds, and promote constructive problem solving. The program has been generously funded in part by the Abbott Fund and Nike Foundation.
M. Daniel Macwan, executive director of Swaman Trust said, “This training is truly the first-of-its kind here in Gujarat. At its core, it helps us to break down barriers between caste, between high-income and low-income people, and will help to prepare these girls with valuable life skills. Access to this kind of training is unprecedented for slum children and we are so grateful for this opportunity.”
Evaluations of the impact of the program on the girls’ well-being is being conducted by Sangath, an internationally recognized mental and behavioral health organization based in Goa, using a quasi-experimental design with 500 girls initially receiving the intervention and 500 girls serving as a control group.
There are 600,000,000 adolescent girls in developing countries, most at risk for poor health, education and economic outcomes. CorStone focuses on adolescent girls because research demonstrates that when these girls are empowered, everyone benefits. When provided with internal or external resources, girls invest in themselves and their families.
CorStone, a non-profit organization based in Mill Valley, California, is committed to bringing low cost/high impact, easily scalable evidence-based methods, interventions and support systems to vulnerable individuals and communities in the U.S. and abroad. Since its inception, the organization has provided trainings and workshops in over 50 countries to thousands of adults and children facing life-threatening illness, conflict and adversity.
About Swaman Trust
Swaman Trust is a community-based organization in Gujarat, India, with the mission to build awareness, educate and mobilize the local slum dweller population.
About the Federation of Slum Dweller Women
The Federation of Slum Dweller Women is based in Gujarat, India. The federation serves slum dweller women across India, providing services, training and advocacy on housing, women’s, and children’s rights on behalf of this highly impoverished and marginalized population.