Published: 13th November 2018
How this Bengaluru NGO has helped 1200 young girls beat depression, suicidal thoughts is inspiring
Niriksha has been helping underprivileged young girls get the psychological and counselling support that they currently lack — and they operate in Bengaluru and Hyderabad
With all the #MeToo stories coming out in numbers you couldn't have imagined, the work done by this Bengaluru and Hyderabad based counselling centre is particularly relevant. Established to offer psychological support, counselling and mental health intervention for youngsters, Niriksha has helped no less than 1200 girls in twelve years of service.
Founded by Priscilla Balachander in the year 2006, the origin story of Niriksha is pretty interesting. Having worked with a sophisticated bunch of youth in various schools and colleges, she realised that there were a great deal of problems faced by the urban young, mentally. She then wondered who would help those kids who had no money or access to counselling. "It hurt me to see a greater need amongst the poor, in terms of finance and education. So I quit my job and took this up full time. I decided to use my counseling skills to help a bunch of girls who were abused physically and mentally," she continues, adding, "Some of them were even affected by HIV and were badly scarred."
Session in progress: Priscilla Balachander, the founder of Niriksha Trust
Before Niriksha started their journey towards becoming a centre for empowering women, Priscilla worked with individuals who were depressed and suicidal. Side-by-side, she was actively nurturing young girls and supporting their financial needs for their education — something that started with her maid's daughter, "In the year 2006, my maid was going through a financially difficult phase, which led her to ask her daughter Lakshmi to quit her education and take up working as a maid in houses to support the family. I stepped in and provided the needed finance for her education. The next day I found close to eighteen girls at my doorstep who were all Lakshmi's classmates. That was when it occurred to me that I needed to start my own institution in order to support these girls and they were they were the first batch at Niriksha," she exclaims.
Most of the problems that girls are besieged with can be sorted out with individual care, "We seek to promote self-worth and self-confidence which is key in helping our girls come out of their shells. These girls are then given counselling by our faculty for emotional and mental stability. We have our own counsellors and walk-in counsellors, but volunteers are welcome every once in a while. Once that is established, we work on building self-confidence which is equally important in preparing them for a career. All of our girls who completed their education have excelled and are positioned in good IT firms or banks. They are financially independent hence, goal accomplished!" she beams.
Personal trainer: One-on-one compter training at the centre in Bengaluru
Some of the lives that they have turned around are truly heart-warming. Like her first star student, Anita, "She is the daughter of a vegetable vendor who was asked to follow her mother's footsteps. Hardworking as she was, Anita was brought to the centre and was given ample education and went on to work with HSBC. With the money earned, she paid her way into Mysore University where she got a BCom degree. That was not the end, she continued to equip herself and now holds a good position with Kotak Mahindra bank."
Back in the day, studying in an English medium school was not a luxury everyone could afford — Priscilla was one of those who studied in a vernacular school, "I longed to study in an English medium school but it was not something my parents could afford. Today, when I see that I'm working to ensure all my girls have that opportunity, my joy just knows no end. My girls do justice to the education and aren't a disappointment and I couldn't be more proud," she says.