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Hi, my name is George Abraham and welcome to Eyeway Conversations. My guest today is Nupur Joshi from Mumbai, a young budding professional social worker. Hi, Nupur, swagat hai, welcome!
Hello. Thank you for the opportunity.
Nupur, you are currently working with an organization calls SNEHA, tell us a little bit about SNEHA and what exactly do you do over there?
I am working with SNEHA since last four months. SNEHA is an organization based in Mumbai, it works on public health, it works with pregnant women, it works with cancer patients, it works with health systems to make them aware about what the community need, and how we can promote better public health in government hospitals. So, it works with ASHA workers, provide them training about how to sensitize the community on different issues. And where I am working is a project, it is empowerment, health, adolescent, and sexuality and gender based awareness we do in that project. So SNEHA ka full form is a Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action. So SNEHA. And coming to my work. We are working currently on a pilot mental health project, which is focusing on mental health of adolescents. And the project name is somewhat. So we are training community members from the slums who are youth, or who are women, which act as a bridge between clinical psychologist and the community, like they identify cases. And they put people who are at high risk or who are severe to the clinical psychologists. So they are the bridge between, you know, the adolescent who want help, or who needs support, so we call them hombre. And they are the people who provide ways for supporting them. And my work there specifically is I am documentation consultant. So whatever the cases are coming, uska data entry me dekhna, working with teams who are working on the field unko kya challenges aa rahi, uske feedback lena, clinical psychologists se feedback lena, and keep the process like my work is to bring clarity in the team, in terms of documentation, as well as in terms of any challenges they're facing to document the work or anything.
Now, I believe in April, you're going to be joining a corporate venture, Tata AIG, what is your role at Tata AIG going to be, what's your profile there?
Tata, AIG has began a process of inclusion, that is they want across India in their offices diverse staff, so they want people with disabilities in their offices to be joining in. And for that, they have started various initiatives like cultural events and sensitization workshops for their staff. So I will be joining there as an Executive inclusion in the CSR and ethics team. And I will be working on designing programs and workshops for the current staff to be sensitized about different kinds of disabilities and also if any employee with disabilities come in the office in any way, I and my team will be checking with him ki what are his or her requirements and office ke structure me kya change hona zaroori hai. For example, if the person is a wheelchair user, they require washrooms which are accessible and also floors, up down karne ke liye, ramps and everything, lifts accessible. So that's what I will be looking on, and also making TATA AIG ka staff go in various NGOs to discover what different disabilities are about and explore the world of different disabilities. So I will be making sure that staff is getting aware about the disabilities, different kinds and employing people of different disabilities in across TATA AIG offices.
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Alongside your professional work, you also have a podcast. You're a podcaster. Bol baby bowl, I believe is the name of your podcast. So tell me a little about how you actually decided to do a podcast and tell us a little bit about the content of the podcast?
Sure. So Bol baby bol is a podcast which I started last year. And why I started to do a podcast is because it is very comfortable. For me it is an audio medium, so I can do it independently. That's one of the reasons and the podcast I believe is a new medium of like pehla jaise radio huwa karta tha podcast is becoming a medium where people listen to various stories, experiences. And there are podcasts of various genres also. So I became interested in podcast when I started listening to them on Spotify. And I then thought to myself that why can't I start a podcast. So first, I saw my friend, my college friend Gina who started in her podcast and then I inquired ki how you did it. Do you have to pay for it or anything? So she said, no, there is an application called Anchor on which you can do your own podcast and you can publish it on Anchor, then it directly goes to Spotify, and other platforms as well. So I was very sure that I'm going to start the podcast, then it arrived ki what topics can I choose, on which topic should I start the podcast so I thought first season I will do on my personal experiences what I have experienced in all these years as a person with disability, as a visually challenged person and also some opinions about something like I have an episode on importance of sharing. So why sharing is important and I get connected to my experiences like unless and until we share our experiences with others, then they will get to know like our limitations, our challenges and then they will get away. So my motto was to make people aware about disability and make them free to be with it. So I have talked there about my fieldwork experiences, my traveling experiences. Also I have a letter to my grandmother like I wrote a letter to her. And usme bhi I have shared like how she supported me during my time, my confidence and how family support is important for a person with disability. So I have the first season launched. And I will be launching second season where I will take interviews of people who whom we meet on a regular basis, but we mmet them for hardly two three minutes or a limited period of time, like delivery workers, watchmen, auto drivers, aur jo lok courier dene aate hai, vegetable vendors, we meet them, we have an interaction with them. But we don't know their challenges or what experiences they are having during their work aur abhi sab online ho rahi hai toh how it is affecting them. So I want to create a conversation where people will get to know about these people's challenges and experiences and what these people expect from society as support.
I also believe that you are planning to start a platform called Maitri Kattaa. So, when you say it's a platform where you bring together maids who work in various houses and at various places. So tell me a little bit about my Maitri Katta. And is this something that you're planning or this is something that you're already doing?
So this is something I'm planning, and my team has already been created. So we will start this project from mid of April. So we are now going into the communities and telling them and so basically, Maitri Kattaa is a space so me jab unki saat bat karti thi which means I used to talk, from then, I got it in mind when I used to share with them, you know, in our NGO, we have a space for women who talk with each other, who share their experiences. And we have a conversational space where they learn from each other. So then a demand came from one or two maids who come to our place for cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes. So she said why can't you create a space for us, like we work from morning 4 AM to 10 PM. And we also need a break from our daily routine. And if you create such a space for us, where we can share our experiences, and we can learn something new, it will be a great work for us and it will be a break for us from our everyday daily routine. So I said, sure we can do that. And I said then you need to support me, you need to be part of my team, because it's your demand. And so, we have started now speculating what to do there, it will be your space where twice in a month, we will meet and we will share whatever the community needs to share like if they need to discuss how they have been treated by various people. So some people still give them different glass to drink water or different plates from the plates which the family uses to or some buildings have different lifts for maids to use. So they are really strict that maid should come from this lift only. So esa bohut kuch thi they want to share with each other, they want to ask each other their experiences. So it is a space where community will share their experiences, they will meet people who are similar to them, they also work as maids. And then they will create a I don't know what is there in future but I can see a big possibility there that they can train how to create bank accounts or how to use Google Pay. Gpay pe salary dene lage hai, and they don't have Gpay ya phir they don't know how to use it or some of them don't have any bank account. So maybe we can give a training, short basic training to them. So the space is building on with the communities and with their support.
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You have a background in social work. You are an MSW from TISS. I'll be interested in knowing as a blind student what was your journey at TISS like? What were the various things that you did and hat were your challenges and how did you find solutions?
Sure. So in TISS, first thing, which we all as a batch faced is online lectures, and we nearly missed a campus life. But in the last month we went to campus, we enjoyed hostel and everything but online lectures were very challenging for each one of us and to sit in front of the screen from 9 AM to 6 PM was very challenging. And but we enjoyed because our professors were very supportive. They also provided me and all of the batch like not just visually challenged students but everybody with soft copies of the study material. We also had an online platform from where we downloaded it. So waha pe pehle accessibility ka issue tha. We complained to the professor body ki accessibility ka thora sa idar issue ho raha hai, in library especially so then there is all the issue. It took some time, but TISS was very committed to listen to the students. So that's what I found very interesting.
MSW Master of Social Work is normally not just a classroom experience. There are also a lot of fieldwork that you do. So how did your batch since you were in the pandemic time, how did your batch get to do fieldwork?
Yes, I was exactly coming to that. So for fieldwork in first semester, we didn't do anything because it was online and lockown ka restrictions bohat zyada tha us samme me. So what we did is they invited various NGOs ke heads and fieldwork workers. And we had a discussion with them about how their NGO works, and what communities they work with, and also what challenges they are facing in this time in COVID. So we had a webinar series in first semester. In second semester restrictions became thora sa kam ho gayi the, sab lok bahar nikalne lag gayi the and we started to have an online fieldwork. So at that time, I was working with SNEHA, but I was working with mother and newborn health. So this project works with pregnant women and infants. So we were talking with women on phone, we were counseling them on the phone ki how to take care of yourself during pregnancy, how to go for a test or how to use contraceptives for future family planning. So we used to do it all on the phone calls, and regular phone calls or Google meet whatever the community prefers. And also, we had trained Asha workers on the phone calls about kabhi pregnant woman ko vaccine dena allowed nehi tha. So we train them in how to tell them ki vaccine kisko lena hai nehi lena hai. And on 8th March, I remember I went for first time in fieldwork to celebrate Women's Day in a basti. So it was a very amazing day for me. So first time, in second semester, we went in fieldwork. And in third and fourth semester, we had finally an offline fieldwork fully in person fieldwork. So I went in Jharkhand, in the social audit unit department, which is a government ka unit. There we need to audit the schemes of the government and send a report to the government and uspe se karvai hota tha. So what we did is agar scheme me kuch jhol hai, suppose attendance sheet pe names are different, and the real names of the people are different, who are really working in fields are different people and names of the people are different toh esa agar kuch hai ya phir the money has been passed from the government, but it hasn't reached to the women's group or budget jiska hai untak nehi pocha hai paisa. Esa bohot sara jhol hoti the and we took interviews of people and we took Gram Sabhas to present our report ki ese esa humne aapke sat baat kiya tha. So wait kare and we took their signatures and we went to Taluka level judge sunwai hoti hai uthar. So government officials who were present would present the report and it was an amazing experience. My Hindi improved there in Jharkhand because everything was in Hindi and also in rural area and how challenges are very different from urban to rural. That is what I have seen, casteism I have seen there. They have names of bastis differently like Yadav dhola, Harijan dhola, and each structure of houses were also different like they had colors for Harijan dhola houses something different and Yadav dhola houses color was also different. And I've seen various challenges women face, especially when entering gram sabhas and how they navigate through IT. So it was an amazing learning and we, as a batch met for the first time in that field work in Jharkhand and so it was a very amazing time for us as a batch to meet and to really see who we are in person because until then we have seen all of us on chat boxes. So then now we can meet and we can see each other. So it was an amazing experience, third and fourth semester meh. And in fourth semester, I worked with an organization called YUVA Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action and they work with Mumbai's community youth, slum dwellers and they work on building leaderships with the youth. So they have a project called Anubhav Shiksha Kendra which is experience based learning. And there, they teach them if in their basti they have a problem of, suppose sanitation ya public toilets. So how to go to government officials, how to write an official letter to them, how to complain, how to follow up with that. So these things generally they teach, and they make sure that it is happening on the ground like youth is doing such a thing. So they also started working with children. They have Balad ka Sangharsh Samadhan, and they had an amazing campaign when we went. So basti meh police jab patrolling karne aati hai. At that time, in the records in the police station, police were showing we were patrolling but in reality, in that slum, nobody used to come and do patrol and then girls used to feel very unsafe because of use of drugs by people in the slum or some areas were not safe for playing for children because there were people who drink and sit there or do many different things. So what the children did is they demanded the police to put a barcode on the basti ka areas where they patrol and the bar code pe jab tab tum stamp nehi karungi, tap tak woh police ka record nehi hoga ki usne patrolling kiya hai. And it started happening in the community that barcodes were put. And police started to come regularly for patrolling and this has happened because of the children's effort. So children when they demanded, YUVA volunteers were there for their support, but all the work the children did and it is bringing confidence in the children. Now they're saying ki hum ek agenda banate hai politicians ke liye, unka jaise hota hai na party ka agenda, vaise hum aapna basti ka agneda banaingi. And then we will present to the politician, local sevak ya MLA. And they said ki we can't vote but our parents can do, right. So the agenda which we are providing to you, it is of our problems in the community which we face as shared. So if you are going to work for our problems, then we will tell our parents to vote for you. So this is what I found very interesting, that children are taking initiative and working and youth also doing the same.
You know, I also was reading that you write stories, you like reading books, you also sing and you also dance. So tell me how all this happened and what is how do you find time for this?
So once in a week, I used to go for singing classes because of workload. I have stopped that but I will go in near future for sure, but I practice singing and also dance. I used to learn bharatanatyan. Nearby our house, there was a teacher who used to teach so I was very fortunate to have everything and people supported me to be there because my parents also sent me there. So that's what I can appreciate about them. they do whatever I wanted to do, they allowed me to do it. They never said ki no disability hai, you can't dance, you can't do this, how will you manage? They just said to me that yes, go ahead and do it. So it was there I learned like how family support is important for a person with a disability. So how I find time is like I practice speaking and I read stories from Facebook, we have pages like Humans of Bombay, Akkar Bakkar. So these pages I love because they share very nice experiences of different people. So I read their stories, and I listen to various podcasts from there and read various stories, and interviews of people. And then when it comes to writing stories, I write my stories of everyday experiences. I write imaginary stories and stories to create awareness. Also, I have written a small skit.
Nupur, it's wonderful talking to you and thank you for taking the time. Wish you the very best. You have a very action packed life. So keep it going and wish you the very best.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
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