New route to Purani Dilli

Nine girls from city shelter homes, freshly trained in conducting food walks, are excited to kickstart the initiative from the third week of September

Published: 05th September 2021 09:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th September 2021 09:52 AM   |  A+A-

The nine food-walk tour guides with Farheen Naaz of Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein

The nine food-walk tour guides with Farheen Naaz of Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein (also pictured below)

Last week, nine girls from shelter homes — Chandni (13), Aamna (13), Varsha (14), Firza (18), Muskaan (15), Shabana (14), Saba (16), Sabina (14), and Shahida (14), were felicitated by Dr Rashmi Singh (IAS), Executive Director at National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Ministry of WCD department. This occasion marked the completion of their training under Shahjahanabad Food Walk, an initiative by women-led not-for-profit organisation, We The Change (WTC), to conduct food-walk tours and help them lead a dignified life. 

Farheen Naaz, Founder, WTC, and Programme Head at Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein, says, “The idea to train these underprivileged girls came from Amita Joseph of Business and Community Foundation and Deepa Menon of PVR Nest during a discussion. Indu Prakashji from Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses (SPYM) and Abu Sufiyan from Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein were also a part of it. SPYM works closely with shelters, while we have been doing food walks for six years now.”

As part of the training, the girls were apprised about famous local food outlets, the history of the food items and the outlets, significance of monuments on the food walk routes, along with personal grooming and hygiene sessions, workshops on life skills and motivational sessions. 

They were trained in 12 sessions (3-4 hours per day) by Naaz and volunteer Alishah Ali, and given Rs 1,000 on the completion of training. They will start the food walks from the third week of September, informs Naaz, 38. “The walks are divided into vegetarian and non-vegetarian walks. The former will cover Dariba Kalan to Fatehpuri Masjid, while the latter will cover Urdu Bazaar to Matia Mahal.

All the girls are trained to conduct both walks. We will have two walks per month, and all the stakeholders will spread information about these through their social media and networks. For the first two walks, each girl will be paid Rs 1,000, but this may vary in future. I think it will take them a year’s time to single-handedly conduct a walk,” adds Naaz.

These girls were first given schooling by Salam Balak Trust volunteers, who later helped them gain admission to a government school. Now, they live in two shelter homes in the same vicinity with over 30 women and girls, and study at GGSSS Panama Building. 

However, it was tough to convince the girls that this kind of initiative could brighten their future, shares Naaz. “It took us some time to convince them to join this training as they do not live in an ecosystem where earning a livelihood through dignified means comes naturally. Since the girls came from different centres, they had a lot of conflicts and did not abide by the rules of a team.” To help them channelise their energy better, there’s an upcoming plan to collaborate with Rugby India to train them in the sport and with WTC’s youth leadership programme Project Pehla Qadam on skill training. 

Gratitude towards rehabilitation 
Chandni, Saba and Shabana, have been looking forward to start the walks, as the training they received has proved to be life-changing. In Chandni’s case, WTC had first approached her mother to participate in the training programme. “But she is illiterate, and so I was asked if I would like to join. I agreed because I was sitting idle and this seemed like a great way to gather knowledge,” says Chandni, who is the eldest among five siblings, and lives in 114 Rain Basera at Urdu Park, Jama Masjid. “Till a few years ago, I lived on the footpath, and begged along with my mother to provide for the family. My father was a rickshaw puller, but he does not work post Covid, and sleeps outside my shelter home,” she says.

Training Saba was initially challenging for Naaz, who says, “I had to wake her up to be on time for the training, and she would demand a lot of attention and pampering in the sessions. Now, her performance is above average, so I don’t want to lose her.” Saba, who aspires to be a photographer, says she is no longer camera-shy as it was the case earlier. “We were coached on how to talk and present ourselves, which greatly improved my confidence levels. Now, I can talk to people without any hesitation.”

Shabana, 14, wants to teach kids for free when she grows up. “I love to cook and also enjoy knowing about food specialties of different places. Moreover, we have grown up here. So, grasping everything that was taught to us was not difficult.”


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