Urja is a young Indian NGO created in 2012. It was founded by Deepali Kamble and a friend of his, Altaf. Deepali graduated in law, a field in which she has been working for more than 15 years while Altaf has an experience of more than 25 years in commerce.
Both of them worked together in an organization called Saathi, who was doing a similar work as Urja, but closed down a year and a half ago, due to the Trustees being very busy with other things, and who could not find the time and energy to sustain Saathi. Hence, Deepali and Altaf formed Urja to continue the work they were doing at Saathi. Deepali is an active board member of Urja, she is giving direction and implementing Urja’s programmes. Altaf is an advisory member of the organization who is mobilizing resources for programmes and giving direction to the organization.
Urja’s mission is to help homeless girls and young women. In India almost 70% of girls who leave home are forced by the families and 30% leave home themselves. In both situations, it is due to dysfunctional families, difficult circumstances, abuse and exploitation. Poor women are easy targets for exploitation. When the girls come to the city, they are frightened and already have many unresolved issues connected to her having moved out of her home or family situation which makes restoration a difficult option.
When women or girls leave their homes due to conflict or abuse, they adopt new strategies to support themselves. These ways of coping may include prostitution, trading sex for food and living in unsafe places, which often places them at risk of violence, including sexual exploitation, abuse and rape.
Currently there is a vacuum in terms of support for these homeless young women by the Indian State or civil society. Therefore there is a great need to reach them. This situation is the basis of Urja’s crucial social work.
Urja’s project aims at empowering vulnerable young girls and women by providing them temporary shelter and with requisite information and tools for economic, social, political development. Thus, through demonstration models of intervention in Mumbai and Maharashtra, Urja reaches out young women and accompanies them to make informed choices towards a life of dignity.
Urja is also working to raise awareness about the condition of homeless women and runaway girls in India and to demonstrate models of successful interventions impacting their lives. Its vision is to increase the sensitivity of patriarchal oppression and to create Government systems for this marginalized group.
Urja is working in Dadar in the heart of Mumbai city. Currently the NGO is running two projects:
Activities focusing on Individual Development:
A shelter to meet the immediate needs of the girls in the age group of 16-25 years. The girls are provided with food and formal and non-formal education. The shelter is a protective environment for runaway and homeless young adults creating or strengthening local community-based programs and offering recreational activities.
Counselling and Psychiatric services are provided to the girls as and when needed. Girls will be linked to different Vocational training facilities according to their needs and wishes. Livelihood options for girls to empower them and prevent their exploitation.
Urja’s activities also aim at bringing Systemic Changes:
-Awareness and advocacy work on the issue with civil society and the government to put in light this invisible population and bring policy level changes with an empowering perspective.
-Research and Documentation on various aspects of the issue to protect and promote it.
Currently Urja is helping 16 girls who are between 16 and 25 years old: 11 in its shelter home and 5 in residential homes run by the Government. Those institutions, in which Urja intervenes, can keep the girls only till they are 18, after they are released in the outside world, without much preparation. Urja goes into these residential homes to identify girls who are soon to be released and plan their rehabilitation with them. This intervention helps the girls to not feel isolated after their release and to have a definite plan of action once they are outside the Institution.
The beneficiaries are between 16 and 25 years old, they are homeless and need to be rehabilitated in the society.
To have a global overview about Urja's mission, here is an article that was published in an e-paper: http://epaper.fpj.co.in/Details.aspx?edorsup=Main&queryed=9&querypage=18&boxid=10226468&id=34420&eddate=09/15/2013