In the words of Malala Yousafzai, “There are two powers in the world; One is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.”
This power and desire to change the world is visible in the work done by the all-women team at Grand Alliance Trust. The NGO based in Madurai focuses on the areas of women empowerment, economic development, health and child rights protection.
The organisation has taken initiatives to spread awareness about health risks and possible precautions among commercial sex workers and HIV infected women. They are supported by TANSACS, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Mama Cash.
The team also educates single mothers and widows in rural areas about organic agriculture practices such as biofertilizers and vermicomposting. This initiative is supported by NABARD, Government of India.
Skill training like tailoring, garment manufacturing and jute bag manufacturing are taught to the rural woman to help them lead a sustainable life free from financial crunches. Financial independence not only brings confidence to rural women but also allows them to lead a dignified life. NABARD, along with other nationalised banks, also provides micro-credit facilities to the women to promote small businesses and self-employment.
The NGO has set up an orphanage in Madurai where it looks after the health, education and overall well-being of children. They receive educational support from local foundations which ensure that the children are not deprived of their basic rights. To ensure holistic development, the NGO also conducts extracurricular activities for them.
Grand Alliance Trust functions on the principle of KAP- Knowledge, Attitude and Practice. It believes that the existence and acquisition of knowledge will result in a change of attitudes, and then practices would follow. GAT is a movement which envisions an empowered society. It wants to enable people to bring about the changes they want to see in the world.
Grand Alliance Trust (GAT) was founded by G. Athilakshmi in 2005. A graduate in non-governmental organisation management, she further pursued a masters in social work. She has worked in close association with central and state government organisations such as TANSACS (Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society). These opportunities gave her great exposure and rich experience in the fields of health, education and environment. With a strong underlying passion to serve society and help the vulnerable sections, she concentrated on establishing an organisation of her own. Her efforts finally bore fruit in 2005 with the birth of GAT. An advocate of and a strong believer in women power, G. Athilakshmi leads this NGO which is run exclusively by young professional females. She is of the opinion that the overall development and growth of a society can only be possible when women are given equal treatment and fair opportunities. Keeping this in mind, she has made it her mission to provide women with the required education, awareness and training to enable them to be the flag bearers of social and economic change.
Meet Nisha, a girl who aspires to become an IAS officer without leaving her passion for painting behind!
“All of it started when I met Avneesh bhaiya and he specifically told me that I was a good painter. One day, he called me and invited me to an event and also asked me to make as many paintings as I could in two days. I still remember his exact words, ‘You can do it’ and believe me or not, I made 14 paintings in two days after not making even a single painting in the last 4 years. What is even more difficult to believe is that I made around 15k out of it. I never thought my paintings were that good.” When asked if she dreams to be a famous painter one day, she says, “I would definitely want to be a famous painter but my dream is to become an IAS officer. I have been studying a lot to make this happen and I hope I could be a hard-working DC and an awesome painter at the same time.”
Shiv, a 14-year-old boy who loves robotics and his passion clearly reflected in his artworks. Using the cans and a motor, he made a moving truck. His extraordinary skills needed a platform but little did he know that he can turn his passion into a career. He needed a platform, guidance and resources to fulfil his dreams and Qause decided to give him all that he needs to keep up with his skills.
“8 years ago, my father fell sick and my parents had no choice but to send me off to an NGO. I came to the Lakshyam Foundation when I was only 6-years-old. It has been a great journey here, filled with learning and growth — I didn’t even know how to write my name. Becoming a great doctor and treating patients is my dream but having said that, nothing makes me happier than singing. I want to be a trained singer and sing on stage in front of an audience”, says Sahiba, a 14-year-old with a dream to become a doctor and contribute towards the betterment of the society.
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