BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRA DUN’s Mahila Kalyan Udyog Kendra (MKUK) and its major fund-raising arm, Kar Kamal, in conjunction with Welham Girls’ School, will once again organise its prestigious Annual Exhibition- cum-Sale of exclusive handcrafted articles on 9 November, from 10 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. It will be held as usual at the Games Field and on the grounds opposite the Welham Girls’ Auditorium at 5, Nemi Road, Dalanwala. MKUK, a registered NGO, completes 55 years of its existence this year. Founded in 1964 by a group of enthusiastic young women headed by Madhuri Mathur (nee Jayal), it was established with the aim of giving refugee women and women from disadvantaged families training in sewing in order to enable them to be financially self-sufficient. Over the last 11 years, the Society has extended its activities and its aspirations to include the welfare and education of the deprived girl child. Selected deserving girls are admitted to schools and their education, including books and uniforms, is paid for by the Society. Thereafter, they are funded to join Vocational Training courses, so that they may ultimately achieve financial independence. Mathur says, “MKUK’s constant endeavour is to find ways and means to promote the cause of supporting the girl child of limited financial means.” With this end in view, a Coaching Scheme was launched eight years ago for school students, aimed at helping them to tackle their homework and improve their academic performance in English, Mathematics, Science and Computers. Six teachers, along with two of the MKUK members (including Madhuri Mathur and Oma Mehra), regularly tutor students from the neighbouring areas four afternoons a week. Additionally, the Society has taken it upon itself to ensure that its school-leaving beneficiaries opt for vocational education courses in established institutions, including the YWCA (Computer Training, Beautician’s course, Tailoring course). Some of those who have completed these vocational courses have gone on to start entrepreneurial ventures. Mahila Kalyan Udyog Kendra hopes to be able to garner enough financial support to be in a position to offer loans to these girls towards initial capital expenditure. “Apart from vocational training, MKUK also encourages and lends its support to those students who wish to pursue higher education, including professional courses,” remarks Mathur. “To date, there are girls who have completed Nursing training, Hospitality training, Teacher’s Training courses, and so on, and we are delighted that they are all secure in good jobs now.” She goes on to explain that in order to raise the funds required, an exhibition-cum-sale will once again be a special attraction that will showcase items made by the Society’s Sewing Centre members, along with the products of other NGOs devoted to various social causes, by micro-businesses that largely employ women and by other women entrepreneurs both within and out of Uttarakhand. Kar Kamal has proved to be a success – thanks to which there has been a steady increase in the number of MKUK’s beneficiaries. “In 2004, the Society was able to award financial aid to only 18 girls,” says Mathur. “Over the intervening years, the number has increased; this year we have been able to benefit over 40 girls in various age-groups, studying both in schools as well as in vocational education and professional courses.” While Mathur continues to be the dynamic Hony Secretary of the Society, other prominent women associated with Mahila Kalyan Udyog Kendra are Dr Girija Saklani (President), Mandira Mohan (Vice President), Oma Mehra (Hony Treasurer), Suman Saklani, Pooja Marwah, Surya Jayal, Tanvi Mohan and others.