For Dehradun-based Shruti Kaushik, helping distressed women and children has become a way of life. Kaushik, who started an NGO — Saheli Trust — in 2013, is a certified engineer, but found her calling in social work.

Inspiration behind Saheli Trust  

Kaushik narrates how a very close childhood friend was sold by her own relatives. “It was a very horrifying incident which happened to someone who was so close to me and since then I made up my mind to stand for women, girls or children who face such atrocities. While doing my engineering, I got a lot of opportunities to participate in social work and gradually I gained more interest in such work,” says Kaushik.

Secretary of NGO Saheli Trust in Dehradun.
Secretary of NGO Saheli Trust.

“Initially, I used to teach children living in slums and later with the help of environmentalist Dr. Nitin Pandey, who is the patron of the Saheli Trust, I got the opportunity to start an NGO especially to empower women and help children. I personally feel that the biggest reason of oppression is illiteracy amongst women and financial dependence on others. Through our NGO, we help make women self-confident,” Kaushik explains.

How it works:

The main focus of Saheli Trust is to rescue and help women who are not capable of standing up for their rights. “When we come across such cases, we first try to counsel the affected person and approach the abuser politely. If things don’t turn out to be good, then we directly approach the court and file cases under Domestic Violence Act and seek justice,” says Kaushik.

Making women/kids independent

Saheli Trust conducts surveys across villages to take stock of atrocities on women. “We visit every village to find out if there are any cases related to domestic abuse of women or any rape cases. We also have helpline numbers through which people contact us and give details of any happening and then we try to rescue them.  We have our own shelter homes called Saheli women’s shelter where we provide them food, education. All their personal needs are taken care of,” says Kaushik.

The women are given vocational training in order to make them independent. Through the Saheli self-help groups, the women make handicraft items which are sold in the market and the money distributed among everyone. This makes them financially strong

A woman can stay in the shelter home for a period of three years after which the Trust tries to find accommodation for her. “In case of children, the Trust helps fund their education and they stay with us till the time they complete their education and find jobs,” Kaushik explains.

Vision ahead

“My only aim is to do social service. I want to leave no stone unturned in empowering women. I want to see every woman living in harmony with others. My NGO works day and night to prevent women from domestic violence and empower them. We should learn to respect every human being,” says Kaushik, underlining her life’s mission.