Our third venture of Jewellery Program is in Jalpaiguri, a district in the north of Bengal, started on the 18th of April, 2012. The shelter home at Jalpaguri is another branch of our partner NGO, Women Interlink Foundation. Our first and second Jewellery program (Kolkata and Boisar) are very different from each other, not only because of the geographical differences but also of the backgrounds of the girls.
I was very excited to meet the new team of Jalpaiguri. I was keen to know how the girls will be different from the other groups we have in the other centres. Needless to say there vibrant faces, glittering eyes and innocent smiles made me fall in love with them at the first sight. This was my second visit to the centre so the girls had actually overcome the shyness and responded to my greetings and hugs.
On the morning of 18th, we all got ready on time and waited with the tools, we needed to set up the studio. The plan started a little late as the car delayed but as soon as we reached the centre, there was no wasting of time. We arranged all the tools and fix the tables, Paul and I got other stuff require for the program from the local market. Soma and Nancy set up the tables with each set of all kinds of tools needed for the basic classes of Jewellery making and sketch books for all the girls. By the lunch time, we looked at the check list and there was nothing as such which remained un-ticked. We successfully changed that empty room of the shelter home into a Jewellery Centre.
Post lunch, we had an orientation class in which we all introduced to each other and we briefed the girls about the program. Soon after Nancy and Soma took over as they began with their first class on Metalsmithing.
The next morning, Paul and I took interviews of all the girls in the program so as to have an idea about their backgrounds, their dreams and goals in life. It is very important to have some idea about the girls so that we can handle them accordingly.
Shikha Majumdar, superintendant of the Jalpaiguri Shelter home helped us with the background of each of the girls which she briefed before we called for the girl for the interview.
The stories of the girls were heart aching. It was like I was reliving the moments of Kolkata and Boisar shelter homes when I took their interviews. It was the same stories of poverty, exploitation, deceit, false promises but different faces. These interviews are a learning process for us through which we get more exposed to the heinous crime of human trafficking. Jalpaiguri is a place of source, transit and destination and hence the girls from poor families are more vulnerable and prone to trafficking.
When we spoke about their opinion on the Jewellery Program, mostly all of them mentioned that they want to do it because they want to learn something new and also this would help them to make some money so as to have a secure future.
It was indeed a good feeling to get such feedback from the girls cause that’s exactly what we intend to do for them, to make their life better so that they can have a happy life which they have survived.