“We started in a small way in a small garage,” says Vinodhini Sudhindran, the proud President of NGO ANEW.
It won’t be wrong to say that this NGO which started out with 10 students in a ‘small way’ has made it big by training 8400 women and helping them stand on their own feet. Association for Non-Traditional Employment for Women (ANEW) has come a long way since its inception in 1997. She recalls those days when the entire team would ask their own family and friends for donations. Today, ANEW receives its funds from international charity organizations like Vijay Amritraj Foundation and Surya-Chandra Foundation through its FCRA account.
There was a time when ANEW would burn a hole in the pocket to pay rent. Thanks to Australian based philanthropist Basil Sellers, today they are comfortably settled forever in Anna Nagar without any rent hassles.
Charity begins at home. ANEW began in a similar way when a small group of people wanted to do something for their workers children. In their garage they trained the children with nursing and later tied up with Sundaram Medical Foundation.
After several alterations the NGO offers four courses today:
Classes are conducted every weekday with 4 batches running and each has a class strength of about 20-25 girls. Irrespective of the course, spoken English classes is made compulsory for all students. Reason being- employers wish to employ fluent communicators and most students struggle with basic communication in English. Spoken English trainer admits, “The quality of English is poor.”
While nursing course seems a popular choice, the driving course has been running for 10 years and is the most non-traditional one. Maruti Foundation in Ambattur trains the women and after receiving license they practice using ANEW’s i-10 car (donated by Hyundai) for about 1.5 months.
But before all this, Vinodhini confesses the first question she asks the girls – “Is your husband okay with you being a driver?” Leave driving a car, for many it’s the first time they even sit in one! Given the fact, most people hesitate handing over their cars in the hands of drivers who are inexperienced. Another issue is work timings. Malls willing to recruit women drivers require the staff to work till 9.30 P.M.
Funds and Donations
Vinodhini Sudhindran says, “We don’t charge the girls anything but it costs ANEW about Rs.5000 to train a girl as a nurse and Rs.10,000 to train a girl as a driver.” But apart from the funds received through FCRA account, locally ANEW is a part of fund raiser Battle of the Buffet and also has companies fulfilling their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). For instance, Cognizant employed a whole batch of home nursing girls while Mahindra Finance picked up women car drivers. Also, Rotary Club helped ANEW revamp the entire computer lab.
Workshops and Seminars
“Let me tell you that 95% of their fathers, husbands or whoever, have alcohol addiction problems.”
Stories of domestic violence are quite common to hear. But being a woman-oriented organization, ANEW realizes the need to conduct workshops on uncovered areas by inviting experts to educate the women. Further, the NGO has introduced ‘Buddy System’; a concept which facilitates personal interaction between one committee member and a team of few girls.
The conversation ends on a serious note when Vinodhini Sudhindran says ,“Somewhere we need to start.”
It’s time to start a new.