Shaheen is a community based organization, working from within the communities to achieve sustainable transformation and enabling strengths. Shaheen’s community mobilisers or field workers are her foundation upon which multiple interventions are woven. The field workers are representative of the Old City communities – they include both Muslims and Hindus. They have a cohesive mode of operation in which a girl of the Muslim community steps into neighbourhoods with a girl of the Hindu community. Shaheen has confronted hostility and derision on this factor but she has been unmoved in her focus towards a more integrated society. Shaheen’s field workers are informed, motivated and sensitive. We can hear them speak, cry and laugh.
THE COMMUNITY MOBILISERS
My hobbies include reading books and listening to songs. Devashri Prasad is my favourite author. I always wanted to give something to my community but wasn’t able to do so due to my own economic and social hardships.
However, after coming to Shaheen I have been able to do something. Apart from working with Shaheen as a teacher and case worker, I am also interested in Fashion Designing, and have studied Fashion Technology at Kamala Nehru College.
I occasionally take stitching orders. I encourage students to study further, after 10th. Most students don’t want to go further with education, and it gets even worse in dalit bastis.
But through regular meetings, field visits, games and street plays, we are trying to get the message across. I dream that this rampant violence against women should reduce, and girls should be able to access schools.
We all are aware of the problems women suffer in public sphere and also what happens at home, yet no one does anything. Here at Shaheen, women and girls realize their rights and learn the importance of the rights bestowed on us by the state. Here we feel equal and empowered to take our own decisions.
Apart from awareness about ones position as a citizen, so many girls are being taught skills, here they are getting opportunities to earn a living. In Shaheen they have new ways ahead.
With Shaheen we got the opportunity to travel and meet other organizations dedicated to working for women. I want to learn fluency in communicating; I also have interest in studying counseling and report writing.
I am from Sultan Shahi. I enjoy reading and working with the computer. Mobility and economic problems have been instrumental in denying me further education. I don’t want other women to face this challenge.
I was working in Abids, but had to quit as people in my area had problems with me returning late. I want to change this perspective. I am acquainted with English, Hindi (Haryana), and a smattering of Telugu. I would like to visit Haryana after marriage to go to all the famous temples for darshan.
I am happy that I am working here; as a student I would visit Shaheen for English, Maths and Science tuition. I don’t dream, because dreams sometimes do not convert into reality.
I like the home visit that we do every day. Every time I go there I interact with girls and motivate them towards education and freedom of mobility. I want to learn every activity which is new to me. I especially like the Marshal Art classes here.
I have always wanted to work towards communal harmony and through Shaheen I got a chance to work on this subject. Our organizational goals teach us not to discriminate against any community and work towards empowering young girls.
I am particularly interesting in the legal counseling sessions and training programes we organize, and I find handling legal cases is very interesting. I want to learn more.
After coming to Shaheen I finished my graduation from Ambedkar Open University. I believe in prosperity and the essentials of unity in diversity. I love art and encourage young children to express themselves through painting and drawings. They are able to open up and one can understand the way the child is thinking, where the depictions can be interesting and empowering on one hand, but upsetting and alarming, on the other.
I really want to learn more through the gender training sessions we organize, and be better equipped to be a good facilitator. I also want to improve my fluency in English and be able to articulate my ideas in front of people.
I contribute to the counseling sessions at Shaheen. I really enjoy interacting with the women. Its equality and justice, I want to work for, this is my moto and core of my existence. I also believe in the ideals of unity in diversity, henceforth want to meet as many women from diverse communities, and bring them together to fight for justice.
My dream is to learn more about sexuality and to be able to interact with men and sensitise them about the issues we are fighting for...
I completed by first year as a student of BA; however I need to go back to it and finish my graduation. I like news documentation particularly related to women.
Every woman who comes to Shaheen is a victim of exploitation; women come here to settle their lives through counseling. I like advising them and helping them with their self-confidence.
My activities at Shaheen have also helped develop my own confidence, and learn more about rights of women, and protect women from exploitation.
Watching and guiding the field workers and holding their hands at each step is the Founder Director Jameela Nishat.
Jameela is a woman with deep reserves of moral and physical strength. She is from an old Hyderabadi family, rooted in the arts and culture. Her father was a painter and headed the Department of Painting at the JNTU College of Fine Arts; M F Hussain was a close family friend. Jameela too grew up loving the arts. She took to writing in Deccani Urdu and studied English Literature in University. She taught English for many long years. She set up Shaheen in the year 2002 subsequent to some momentous events, socially, politically, culturally, that transformed the landscape of being and brought with it questions of identity and belonging and searching out and discovery.
She set up Shaheen at the cross-point of three distinct Old City Communities to work on communal harmony, gender justice, and to build patterns and structures of social and political empowerment.