NGO in Banikhet empowering girls, transforming lives

Balkrishan Prashar

The Yog Manav Vikas Trust (YMVT), a charitable NGO in Banikhet, near Dalhousie, is dedicatedly working towards empowering poor women and girls for the past two decades.

Kiran Dodeja, chairperson of the Trust, witnessed the hardships and suffering of rural folk and their children in the remote areas of the district, when her husband, former NHPC director (projects) SK Dodeja, was posted here. She has been staying in Chamba now with her husband since 1978. “My husband worked in different hydroelectric projects and it was during this time that I got an opportunity to witness the hardships and sufferings of rural folk and their children,” she said.

“Being poor means deprived economically and socially. They hardly get opportunities,” feels Kiran. 

Has trained over 2,000 girls, women so far

Established and registered in September 2001, the Trust has so far imparted vocational training to over 2,000 girls and women in various accredited courses enabling them to earn livelihood and support their families. Moreover, self-defence training was also introduced recently with the help of the HP Police trainers.

The Trust has been given accreditation under the Prime Minister’s skill development programme to run vocational courses including that of tailoring, manicurist and pedicurist. Besides, it is running a helpline for women in distress and even provides assistance to widows.

Shelter home for orphans

Kiran Dodeja has also been instrumental in running a shelter home for orphans since 2003 and is operating education help centres in remote villages for improving the standard of education of rural children studying in government schools. 

Kavita Kumari of Diur village in Salooni block of Chamba district says: “After completing the course of beauty culture, I am now supporting my family by running a beauty parlour from home. I am able to earn Rs 4,000 to 5,000 every month.”

Similarly, Kamlesh of Banikhet, says: “I did a dress designing course from the Trust a few years ago and now, I have my boutique. I earn Rs 5,000 to 6,000 every month.”

Other initiatives

The Trust has so far been instrumental in commissioning lift irrigation scheme, health, environment and medical camps, training to the poor in farming with the help of the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), Palampur, under CSIR, cultivation of cash crops of lavender and geranium in the past, which has reaped good results in Jassourgarh and Brangal.

Meditation camps  

Kiran Dodeja entered the world of spirituality with the creation of “Antarnirman”, a new complex of YMVT, at Sukrain Bain, near Banikhet. It was built in an octagonal shape with a large dome on top, prime theme being “Know Thyself - Who Am I”. More than 2,000 executives and non-executives along with their families hailing from various public and corporate sectors from across the country, besides local people, have undergone intensive spiritual training and mediation camps in the last six years here.

“My ultimate aim is not only to empower rural girls and women through education and vocational training, but also to propagate spirituality among school and college-going students, enabling them to lead a good life,” said Kiran, who is a science graduate with B.Ed degree. “I cannot run the Trust alone and everything that we do is possible only due to the efforts of other trustees and several well-wishers,” she said.