This #InternationalWomen'sDay we #BreakTheBias and share the story of one of our mothers who joined us 33 years ago as one of the very first mothers to seek shelter and live in The Sreepur Village.
As we celebrate our 33rd year of transforming the lives of thousands of families we reflect on how Shumi has not only transformed her life but how she has helped to transform and empower the lives of so many others.
Shumi's father left her mother and married another women when he heard that his wife had given birth to a girl and not a boy. As a result, Shumi’s mother became mentally ill and left home. Her family members had no idea where she was.
Shumi grew up with her aunt and at the age of 14, her relatives forced her into marriage. One year after her marriage, she had a baby girl, but her husband was not happy and he left both Shumi and their child.
Her relatives tried to re-marry her but they couldn’t because nobody would accept her with a child. Due to the financial hardship she was unable to provide food or clothes for her child. Within a few years, her relatives fixed a second marriage and she gave birth to a baby boy. In the months following the birth of her son, her husband left home seeking employment, but he never returned.
Shumi came to the Sreepur Village with 24 other families in late 1988. At the beginning there were few volunteers and insufficient staff to care for the families. It was Shumi's role to care for the children. Over time, Shumi became a permanent employee of Sreepur's Mother and Child Care Department. At that time, she was responsible for the distribution of food, clothing and other basic needs to all the mothers and children.
Shumi retired from Sreepur Village in 2019 after working for 30 years. She has since been working as a contractual employee for Sreepur.
"I am presently working for the children who grew up in Sreepur Village and the majority of them are now independent," Shumi said.
"In the early stages of Sreepur Village, time was very limited, and there were not enough employees to manage Sreepur Village and other routine activities," she added.
"Now in Sreepur Village, all the mothers and children are receiving nutritious food, clothing, vocational, educational and technological training and all in a very nice living environment" she explained
We celebrate women like Shumi not just #InternationalWomen'sDay but every single day. Despite facing many adversities, Shumi continued to believe in hope and with empowerment she has transform the lives of so many other women.
In 2018, with the aid of CIPRB and one of their trustees, Becky Horsbrugh, the Sreepur Village started to run swimming lessons in their pond in the village grounds. The lessons, since this date, take place every year during the months of June and July, and are now taught by a number of Sreepur staff who have since been trained to facilitate the programme each year.
Approximately sixty children, aged 6-12, take part each year. They will learn how to swim 25 metres freestyle, tread water or float for 30 seconds as well as perform a rescue from dry
land. As half the number of deaths from drowning occur in 1-5 year olds, having an older child trained in dry-land rescue is pivotal in striving to keep this devastating number down.
It's British Science Week, 11th 20th March, and one of the activities that the Sreepur Village runs is the creation and nurturing of sack gardens.
This is an aspect of the Mothers Talking Everyday Science project and is a particularly important activity because when the mothers return to mainstream society they will be experienced in how to prepare a container in which to grow food plants and how to care for them.