In 2010, I interviewed a young girl from the Nizamuddin Basti in Delhi, India. She had just completed the CorStone Resilience program. When I asked about her experience, she told me how she was able to use the many skills that she learned during the year-long program, at home, and with her family.
She shared with me how she was able to recognize her strengths, how she learned to value her relationships with her friends and family and how she even helped her family with an ongoing conflict with their neighbor. She expressed how she had used her problem-solving skills with her family and how together, they had come up with a solution.
My attitude changed by resilience
I had never felt so happy at the end of an interview as I felt that day! This young girl, who lived in the most difficult circumstances, was able to speak with so much hope, confidence and openly express her feelings gave me an experience that I will never forget.
As a clinical psychologist and a public health specialist, I had been working on adolescent health for more than 20 years. I was also aware of a number of adolescent-focused programs being deployed across India.
While seeing many young people in my clinic, I was involved in developing and implementing programs that were specifically tailored to them. And when I was asked to conduct an external evaluation of CorStone’s pilot program in Delhi in 2010, I had never heard of the concept of resilience!
A journey of transformation
I took that assignment out of curiosity and with skepticism. However, the experiences and stories that I heard from the girls changed my life. I saw the impact that a few simple skills could have on their lives. I eventually joined CorStone in 2012 as the Country Director and since then, there has been no turning back.
When I first began, and I used to talk about resilience, most people would ask me ‘what is resilience?’ But today resilience is associated with most developmental programs including economics, health, disasters, and even smart cities. Resilience is the ability to bounce back and thrive in face of adversity.“When I was asked to conduct an external evaluation of CorStone’s pilot program in Delhi in 2010, I had never heard of the concept of resilience!”
Gracy Andrew | CorStone India Country Manager
Through our emotional resilience programs, adolescents and women learn to recognize their inner strengths, become aware of their emotions and use this to deal with difficult situations and conflicts in their lives.
A decade of impact
CorStone started its operations in India in 2013 with a trial targeting 4000 girls in rural Bihar and around 1000 girls in slums in the city of Surat. Over the years we have adapted, implemented and evaluated the program while reaching out to thousands of adolescents across several states in India.
The story that I heard from the girl in Nizamuddin has resonated again and again across different locations. Young adolescents have talked about using their strengths to collectively find solutions to problems that they have faced in their communities and in schools. These girls have shared with me how they:
- confront discriminatory norms
- find their voice to express their needs
- manage to move on, grow and flourish
- and so much more
How to improve development everywhere
I truly believe that building emotional resilience is the missing link in a number of developmental programs in our country and many other parts of the world. It has huge potential and could enhance any existing program for it touches what is core to all of us as human beings.
For me, CorStone’s journey has just begun. In the next decade, I hope to see this program reach millions of young people and other vulnerable populations across India and across the globe!