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Showing Special Children How To Learn And Earn
Naunidhi Kaur

Shilpa Arora became a teacher to impart knowledge as well as guide and empower youngsters to realise their dreams and ambitions. Today, though, she is inspired by the determination and hard work of her very special students. Arora heads a school for children battling with physical and mental disorders, such as Down's Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism, and it’s their never-say-die attitude and disarming smiles that drive her to become a better educator and be proud of her profession. Focused on empowering differently-abled children Arora and her team, comprising 25 trained teachers, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, psychiatrists and a dedicated group of helpers as well as volunteers, assist the young ones in covering regular school work, while those in the 15 to 17 age group are given vocational training that helps them earn as they learn.

“Some of the children here are really artistic. So we want to tap into their strength and give them the added confidence of making money.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDK511R 1200 words

A Girl With A Book Is Truly Powerful
Elayne Clift

History is replete with unnamed multitudes of women denied an education. In medieval times, for instance, women who were unmarriageable or considered unruly were shunted off to convents. But there they found a haven free from subservience and perpetual childbearing, a place where they could read, write, discuss ideas – until the men in power realised how dangerous that was, and banned them from such activities in favour of religious devotion and endless embroidery. Yet, here’s what we know about the value of girls’ education: it is central to a country’s development and improvement because it has a direct, proven impact on reproductive and child health, economic growth, environmental sustainability and national productivity. Today, although there are over 65 million girls out of school, fortunately, a new generation of young women, and men, represented by Malala Yousafzai, is geared to “fight for the rights of women, children who deserve a shot at education” that ensures a voice, agency and most importantly, a good life.

In poor countries, 60 per cent of the present population is under 25 years of age. Without children’s rights, including access to education, how are we going to realise global peace and development?

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 WFS Ref: QQQNA28R 800 words

Metro Girl Gulzhan Can Work Better Than Male Engineers

Sifting through the darkness, she measures the distance between the rails on Kazakhstan’s first subway system, the Almaty Metro. Donning heavy boots and other protective gear she spends most of her day in the dingy tunnels as she diligently goes about working on her latest engineering project. Gulzhan Kokbayeva, 27, is the only woman engineer on the team working on the first subway system in Kazakhstan, a country known for housing the first space launch complex in the world, the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Perhaps living in close proximity to some of the greatest scientific minds of her country stimulated her interest in this tough discipline and motivated her to prove that women’s contributions to the economy can also come from scientific professions. But while graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from the Department of Underground Construction just six years ago was the easy part, securing a job and proving her competency in a totally male-dominated profession was not. However, never backing down from the challenge at hand, today she has not only gained the respect and trust of male colleagues, but has established herself as a valuable professional and become a role model for other young women. In this one-on-one Kokbayeva talks about being a fearless career woman and getting used to the extremely “uncomfortable and bulky” uniform!

“At staff meetings where the majority of participants were male, they used to use foul language. But after a while they learnt to work with me.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: KAZO817 900 words

Yo-Yo Diets Can’t Promise Health

Which woman has not been tempted to try out the next new diet that hits the trendmill? If a few years back it was the GM, Atkins or South Beach Diet that had everyone hooked, today it’s the Bulletproof Diet, The 90 Day SSS (Shape, Shift and Sustain) and The High Fat Diet (yes, you read right!) that have emerged as the new favourites. Whether these hip food fads are truly effective is a question no one has really been able to answer yet, but if you were to ask celebrity fitness expert Leena Mogre for advice on the best way to get into shape then she would definitely recommend “substituting good food for bad food and combining that with appropriate physical activity”. After all, diet might help you drop the kilos but you will definitely have a tough time keeping them off. An excerpt from ‘Total Fitness – The Leena Mogre Way’, published by Random House, has more on the ‘good fad-bad fad’ phenomenon.

‘You should want to eat good food, should love the good food you eat, be disciplined to eat in moderation.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO818 1000 words

Code Red: I Can’t Talk About Menstruation
Alka Pande

‘You all have become shameless as you can talk about menstruation with anyone and anywhere. At least talk in softer tones so that the men standing outside cannot overhear us. This is India, after all! How will we face our male staff once we step outside this room?’ This was what an alarmed Vidyottama Pandey, a senior teacher at a government-run Upper Primary School in Malihabad block of Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow district, had to say when a non government organisation came over to hold a discussion on menstrual hygiene management. An appalled Pandey simply couldn’t understand why they needed to hold an open dialogue on such an “embarrassing issue”. Across Uttar Pradesh, there are many educators like Pandey, who are being compelled to break the silence and stigma surrounding menstruation in an effort to ensure that they are able to spread awareness among their students. Apart from this, the administration is also looking at ways to provide low cost sanitary napkins in all state schools. After all, there are least 2.8 million adolescent girls who end up missing out on their studies in that time of the month either because of the social taboos imposed on them or lack of access to affordable sanitary pads.

“There are girls in villages who have never seen sanitary napkins; they neither know how to use them nor have any knowledge about their disposal.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO811 1250 words
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