International Environment Day Celebrations

World Environment day was celebrated with great gusto by Soroptimist International Pune Metro East. In the morning, a tree plantation drive was undertaken to replenish the greenery destroyed due to the deforestation of the Anandvan area. The members planted fruit trees and dug trenches for further plantation. It was indeed a fruitful morning.

Since, India this year was the Global host of the World Environment Day under the theme ‘Beat the Plastic Pollution’ to raise awareness and come together to urgently reduce the production and use of single use plastic that pollutes oceans, damages marine life and threatens human health.
Keeping the mind, the SDG 13 & 15, in the evening a rally was conducted, at the nearby farmers market. The aim to educate and spread awareness against the use of plastic for storage or dispersal. Members interacted with the vendors and Shoppers advocating the disuse of plastic bags. The members were carrying posters and banners to stress the need of a plastic free world. SIPME members appealed to the vendors and shoppers against the use of plastic for storage or carrying of goods. Plastic bags were replaced by cloth bags – which were distributed free by the members. The rally was huge success as quite a few of the vendors joined the movement towards the end, though there were a few sceptics. SIPME, members emphasised the need for a change in the mind set of people to adopt new means to nurture our environment.

SIPME celebrates its Eighth Charter Anniversary

SIPME celebrated its Charter Anniversary by extending a Grant of Friendship to the members of its Friendship Link Club, SI: Barbados, - Pansy Griffith and Andrea Simon. The NASI President, Lata Krishnan, friends from SI: SriLanka, Neela Fernando and Tanya Peters, and Sue Waters from UK added colour to the event. The presence of three Federation APDs Margaret Clark, Nisha Ghosh and Naina Shah was the icing on the cake.
The three-day celebrations in February 2018 included a presentation by the PAC, Renu Bhardwaj, showcasing our work for guests and the NGOs partners. Cultural activities, project visits and fun things made for an action-packed program for the visitors. They visited Kilkari, where SIPME works with the women of migrant construction workers and Kayakalp, a local NGO where SIPME had contributed to the children of commercial sex workers. The visitors actually visited a red-light region of the city.
The celebrations culminated with fellowship at a gala lunch.

Marking of the UN Days - International Women's Day

To mark IWD, SIPME provided an outdoor education to improve the lives of 20 women of migrant construction workers for a picnic. For them, it was an escape from the ordinary, and to enjoy the abundance of nature and appreciate its beauty.

Marking of the UN Days - World Water Day

SIPME, along with the local Corporator took on the task of creating awareness for two different section of women who work as domestic help. We highlighted the importance of water, and how 1 in 10, lack access to safe water and hence, urgency in conserving water. They were apprised of some of our States where women and girls have to walk miles to collect drinking water, irrespective of the weather conditions. Stressed on consuming safe water to avoid diseases.

Israeli Soroptimists come visiting India

We had the privilege of meeting a group of Israeli Soroptimists at the SIGBI Conference in Malta. Since we were all staying in the same hotel we would exchange pleasantries over meals. The “hellos” led to an exchange of invitations to visit each other. Well, the Israeli Soroptimists kept their promise and six of them visited India in February 18. They visited six clubs in India and their visit culminated with a visit to SIPME. One of them commented – we kept the best for the last! Exchange of ideas on Club Projects, exchange of recipes, and a great amount of quality time spent together has led to talks of having one of their clubs as our new Friendship Link Club. To quote SIPME PAC, Renu Bhardwaj: "Our friendship is a gift. By chance we met. By choice we became friends. May our friendship continue with love and bonding!"

SIPME Grant of Friendship

To coincide with its Charter Anniversary Celebrations, SIPME offered Grant of Friendship (the second in eight years) to two members of SI: Barbados, its Friendship Link Club - Pansy Griffith and Andrea Simon. The two guests enjoyed home hospitality and visited some of the Projects in Pune. The ladies were exposed to various aspects of the Indian Culture as part of their GOF Program. They undertook a heritage walk through the old city of Pune. Pansy Griffith’s remark “where yesterday is still alive and well” summed it up really well! The guests also visited a dance school and witnessed an enchanting classical dance performance and were escorted on a journey into heritage and culture through the silk weaves of India. They freely interacted with most of our members over Chutney Chatters and other gourmet cuisines laid on by the SIPME members.

Sanitary Napkin Advocacy Program - Empowering Rural Women

SIPME's ongoing project is now managed in Wai, by a self-help group of 10 women who have - undertaken this income generating activity. They handle production and accounts by themselves while the Soroptimists provide material and marketing support. The Club raises funds - asking for a contribution to meet one girl’s yearly need of sanitary napkins. Then collection keeps the production ongoing while the sanitary napkins are given free to underprivileged girls, mostly in rural schools.
This project and process serves SDGs-1, 8, 10. The economic empowerment for the rural women goes a long way to eradicate poverty and mitigate social inequalities. The current awareness of menstrual hygiene and usage of sanitary towels has given an impetus to this project resulting in increased demand and therefore more production. And great economic empowerment for women workers here. Their economic strength helps them in achieving the three pillars of sustainable development - Economic, Social development and Environmental protection.

Orientation for new members- Nov 2017

An orientation programme was held in November for all the 8 new members that have joined SIPME. Membership and Development Officer conducted the session introducing the members to how the federation works, how important is Programme Action and the execution of projects. They were also told about the connection of Soroptimist International to United Nation’s ECOSOC as well as the importance of Sustainable Development Goals as guidelines for our work.

Friendship Link Club member visits

SIPME members were happy to meet up with Pam Cairns member of our Friendship Link SI Dundee during her visit here. President Anubha, PAC Renu and Friendship Link Officer Anita invited Pam and her husband to coffee Also present was Seema of our joint project Aseema.

KILKARI-WOMEN- Session on Domestic Violence-- Nov 2017

SIPME’s work with the women at the Tara Mobile Creches Centre is progressing in a positive way. The women here are the wives of construction workers who have very poor living conditions, have been dislocated from their home territory and are isolated. The once reticent, non-social women here, have now come together and look forward to the SIPME visits. For the past seven months the women have gladly received and participated in all the session conducted on location. They have made specific requests for information or help. The TMC social worker has remarked that they have noticed a remarkable change in the women. As requested by them a session on domestic violence was conducted by Barkha Bajaj of Aks Foundation. This session was held on Sunday so the male members of this community could also be in the audience. Despite the early awkwardness of the men they made contribution to the conversation, but it was always the women who were more vocal. The issue of child marriage was also discussed. More than 70 women and men were present.

SIGBI Conference at Cardiff.

The 83rd SIGBI Conference was held at Cardiff at the end of October. It was a engrossing 3 days with a new format of the Federation Programme Action, excellent speakers and presentations. President Ann Hodgson handed over her chain of office to Susan Biggs. There was music, good fellowship and inspirational moments. SI Pune Metro East was once again in the nomination list for their Sanitary Napkin Project, as were 4 other projects of Clubs in India. APD Nisha Ghosh who is also the National PAC represented at this Forum. Stage presentations too had an Indian representation, with SI Pune Metro East as a partner of the Seema’s Home project which was presented on stage by members of SI Perth and SI Dundee- SIPME’s Friendship Link.

Guinness Recognition for members

Sushmita Mukerjee and Suchandra Chakravarthy both new members of SI Pune Metro East are now Guinness World Record holders. Both the sisters participated in crocheting a 15km long scarf along with 65 other participants. This has been recognized as a record, worthy of being in the Guinness Book of World Record. SIPME is proud to have them as members.

SNAP production and distribution

The Sanitary Napkin Advocacy Programme that SIPME enthusiastically started in 2014 is moving along and reaching more and more women and girls in communities. The manufacturing unit was set up in 2015 at Tulapur near Pune. It was a learning experience for both the club members and the community at Tulapur. Marketing the product was a challenge but Anupama Sen who spearheaded the project was satisfied with the social change initiated at the village. At the beginning of 2016 the project was shifted to Wai (2 hours away from Pune) where a self-help group of local women are overseeing the production. Here village women are employed at the manufacturing unit. SIPME has conducted menstrual hygiene and sanitary napkin advocacy sessions for schools and women at Wai. The club also supports the distribution of the napkins and helps collect funds to keep the production ongoing. The SNAP project was highlighted at the NASI meeting in Kodikanal, at the Yellow Ribbon Fair, and by individual members getting donations to take the project forward.

Snap for Education of a Girl

Data has it that girls in developing countries interrupt their studies during their menstruation days. In certain cultures, girls even stop going to school. It has been found that providing comfortable sanitary wear for school going girls may help them not miss days or even end their education. Understanding this SIPME has stepped up a drive to have sponsorship. Each sponsor gives enough to support one girl’s need for sanitary napkin for one whole year. The beneficiary receives the napkins free of cost. SIPME members have been able to thus support girls’ education.

AGM Sept 17

SIPME had its AGM in September at a local Restaurant hall. President Anubha presented her report as well as the Audited Accounts on behalf of the Treasurer. Secretary KumKum read her report followed by reports from PAC Renu, Communication Officer Neha, Friendship Link Officer (IPP Neerja read), Membership Officer(Nisha). Post reports the managing Trustee gave her observations on the performance of the Club in the past year.

Literacy at Kilkari-Aug 2017

SIPME conducted a literacy drive at Kilkari with the women of the construction workers community. The women had varying levels of education, none more than grade 9, some had no education at all. They were asked to write their names on the board. This produced a fair result but it was their hesitation that needed to be overcome. Learning to write their names would enable them to sign for opening a bank account should they need to in the future. It was a fun attempt and they enjoyed the session .

Clean Home Competition-Sept 2017

Women at the Kilkari Project have slowly begun to be drawn to SIPME members visiting them slowly over the last one year. SIPME’s work there involves meeting the women, who have relocated from their hometowns, live in poor miserable conditions, and lead joyless lives. There is a lot of domestic violence and they encounter drunkenness from their spouses. Tara Mobile Creches wanted us to specifically address the women so as to reduce the aggression between each other as well as give them more motivation and non-formal education. Their response to the Clean Home competition was very heartening to SIPME and this encourages us to take the project forward.

Membership at SIPME

SI Pune Metro East takes its membership issues very seriously. Since the Charter in 2010 membership, has never dropped below 30. The Club prides itself with winning nominations and awards each year, which is possible only through a committed and sustained membership. The highlights of 2016 was the film ‘Ask Me Why I’m a Soroptimist’ made for Membership Month Competition which apparently shattered viewership records on sigbi website. Membership strengthen meetings are held occasionally to keep members informed of running of the club and project handling. The Club Communications Officer held a session to introduce members to ways of writing for Soroptimist publications. A professional photographer was invited to give tips on taking effective pictures for documentation. Earlier this year an external resource person conducted a team building session which was well received. Though 6 members moved on, 9 new members joined and were given an orientation by President Anubha. Membership Officer used a painting session for team building – each painting a tile for a collective artwork to be installed at a project site. The PAC held a workshop on SDGs, online reporting and writing projects.

RED DOT Campaign

SI Pune Metro East- partnered with Mr. Sathyanarayana the pioneer of the RED DOT Campaign in Pune. He was invited to address residents of housing communities. As part of environmental concern – this pioneer took up the sole task of education the society on the sae disposal of sanitary waste. SIPME is already working on menstrual hygiene advocacy and the production of the low cost sanitary napkins. This endeavour seemed to fit well with the existing campaign. Awareness session in 6 house communities were successful delivered. Mr Sathya advocated the simple method of put a red dot on the sanitary waste at the time f disposal. This would help garbage collectors identify sanitary waste which they could handle separately.

NASI -JUne 2017

The NASI of India – had its AGM at Kodikanal, where the young club SI Kodaikanal hosted the 3day meeting. Eight SIPME members led by President Anubha Ramgopal, travelled to be at the meeting. SIGBI APD Nisha Ghosh held special training session on Programme Action. SIPME PAC Renu Bhardwaj was roped in to be part of NASI presentation planned by NASI PAC Nisha Ghosh. Renu also presented the Annual report for the PAC segment of the AGM. All SIPME members participated in the events planned at the AGM, and collectively met the NASI President Lata Krishnan.

ETC-education sponsorship

SIPME’s humble effort to support bright young girls to further their education has met with modest success. Of the three girls supported 2 of them have progressed. One-Ujjwala- is completing her Chartered Accountancy, and the other has moved on to junior college. An additional sponsorship was granted to a student – the daughter of a construction worker (from partner NGO Tara Mobile Creches), who is an engineering student. Vaishali has been working very hard and deserves all support.

Yellow Ribbon Fair

With the festive season coming up in Pune- several fairs dot the city. SIPME participated in a fair -Yellow Ribbon Fair organized for NGOs by the Ishanya Foundation. The four-day participation was enthusiastically conducted and received. This was the first time SIPME participated here. It was definitely an occasion to raise the profile of the Club and the work we do. Items made by club members and contributors had a fair sale. The focus of the stall was the promotion of the Sanitary Napkin Advocacy Programme. Several visitors to the stall enquired about the programme and gave in their sponsorship for the project to go forward.

Sanskriti Night Bazaar

Carrying the Soroptimist message, SIPME participated in the Sanskriti night Bazaar, in early Oct. The 3-day participation was well received and products of members were put on sale. The Sanitary Napkin Advocacy Programme received tremendous support and there were several inquiries . This is the second time that SIPME participated in the Bazaar.

Sewing Classes

In collaboration with Doctor Foundation an NGO, SI Pune Metro East provided 3 sewing machines, to start sewing classes for young women and girls that came from the neighbourhood communities. A trained fashion designer conducted the three-month course and the students learnt many new sewing techniques. Two members of the Club, also gave lessons during the course. The women and girls who cannot go to out to work, found the classes beneficial , for earning money through dress making from their homes. In early October on the completion of the course SI Pune Metro East and Doctor Foundation jointly gave certificates. The passing out women exhibited some of their work.


The Aseema project at Bori has taken a step forward. The housebuilding started in 2016- is now complete and some of the children are now housed there. It was built in Bori, with the support of the Soroptimists of Scotland and England, along with the girl guides and the Free to Live Trust in Scotland. SIPME had pledged to do a one-time support for Seema Home. In September 4 members visited the Home to assess how the activity room could be decorated. Members of SIPME spent a morning painting individual tiles that were put together to compose a wall piece for the house. It was decided to name the room after late SIPME member Yasmin Jamadar. Books, indoor games and carrom boards along with paints, crayons and palettes. In October 9 members took all the material and board to give it to the children at Bori. The board will be put in the Activity Room and hopefully the hundred books and activity books for the children will be put to good use.

Opening the Door to Economic Empowerment for Women and Girls

Organised by Soroptimist International (SI), 'Opening the Door to Economic Empowerment for Women and Girls' took place on Wednesday 15 March at 10:30am, in the Hardin Room, Church Centre. Recognising that advancing women’s economic empowerment in the world of work is essential for achieving gender equality, this event took a closer look at each of the four Soroptimist Federations and a variety of Soroptimist grassroot employment projects from around the world. Demonstrating how SI transforms communities through educating, empowering and enabling women and girls, the event was co-sponsored by Zonta International and moderated by Sonja Hönig Schough, President-Elect, Zonta International and Zonta International Foundation.

NASI AGM-June 2016

The AGM of National Association of Soroptimist International-India was held in Kolkatta in June. Four members from SIPME were present. The meeting drew a lot of enthusiasm as several pressing issues at the National level were to be discussed and debated. SIPME members were well prepared with their observations on Bye-law amendments and election criteria. Their inputs were appreciated and taken up. PAC Renu Bhardwaj had a crisp presentation for the PAC slot. She spoke of Project Aseema and Project Kilkari-the two new projects of SIPME.

Fistful of Grains.

SIPME contributed grains to Kayakalp a home for children of the sex workers. This project Fistful of Grain is part of the National project selected by the National Association of Soroptimist-India.

Kayakalp is part of the ASEEMA Project–where together with SIPME’s Friendship Link SI Dundee support is being extended towards a building in Bori where the children at Kayakalp will be relocated. This contribution is the third for Fistful of Grain.

Educate to Change

SIPMEs formal education project began in 2015 and monetary support was provided to three girls for their education. It is our endeavour to reach out to those unfortunate girls who may have the will and the intelligence but lack of means and the opportunities.

A year later we have seen positive results and all three girls have performed well at their respective classes. SIPME is encouraged by this, and hope to support more number of girls in the next year.

We educate empower and enable women and girls to take charge of their lives and be responsible leaders for their actions. Members who were mentor proudly pose with the girls.

Nisha Ghosh elected as Assistant Programme Director at Federation

SIPME Founder President and current Membership Officer was successful in her bid for the Assistant Programme Director Post at Federation. She will be the first Indian to be elected to this post. At present she holds the post of Federation Friendship Link Coordinator which was also a first for Indian Soroptimists. Nisha will take over her new Assignment at the Malta Conference in Nov 2016. SIPME is proud of her and wishes her all the best for her new role.

Meanwhile she has also been elected as the NASI-India Programme Action Chairperson (2016-2018) a post she will assume at Mumbai at the end of November.

Girls Moving Forward – Food and Nutrition

Member Nandita Mehta conducted a session for Girls Moving Forward-3 the ongoing project. The focus was food and nutrition. The women are all from the slums and very low income communities most of them illiterate or just semi-literate. Their knowledge and exposure to today’s thoughts on nutrition is limited and only through television. Their food habits are also fixed and staple.

First they were encourage to think of how nutrition effects the health, of a pregnant mother, her unborn child and later the growing child too.

Condolence Meeting for Yasmin Jamadar

Yasmin Jamadar, Treasurer of SI Pune Metro East, passed away quite suddenly and tragically on 17th August 2016. She was 61 years old.

Yasmin joined SI PME in 2013 and in a short period of 3 years contributed substantially to every project and all activity of the Club. She served as the Club Friendship Link Officer as well as represented the SIPME as the Club Rep at NASI meetings. Everyone felt she emerged as a Soroptimist par excellence.

An emotional condolence meeting was held to remember her, where members recalled her contribution to the club.

Educate to Lead - Spoken English Classes

Under the focus area of Learning Opportunities SIPME started new sessions of the Spoken English Classes. Deep Griha one of SIPMEs partners for projects requested the classes for about 25 girls and young women at Ambedkar Vasti in Pune.

Convener Veena Chaturvedi and IPP Neerja Bajaj carried out the initial sessions. Most of the participants are from very low income group and some of the girls and women have never had any formal education. Their eagerness to learn is enthused SIPME to reach out to this group.

World Environment Day 2016 with Tara Mobile Creches

The new project KILKARI is in collaboration with Tara Mobile Creches - an NGO that works for the migrant labourers that work on construction sites. In a supportive role SI Pune Metro East provides a few learning skills to the children many who do not go to regular school. The members also meet with the women in one of the centres to listen to their problems and motivate them to cope with violence in the domestic front and make their lives more meaningful. The Club celebrated World Environment Day with this community, urging them to take interest in kitchen gardening, outside their huts. Plants were distributed to the women and beds prepared with old tyres. The women were given guidance on how to nurture the plants.

Visit to Kayakalp - Aseema Project

SI Pune Metro East continues to support Kayakalp - a home for the children of the commercial sex workers situated in the heart of the city's red light area. This project supports Director Seema's efforts at Kayakalp by providing useful items for the children and some of the thousands of sex workers in that area. On two occasions members of SI Pune Metro East donated clothes, bedlinen, utensils, and other articles. In June members visit the centre and food grains and cereals were also given for the children. This latter activity was part of the club's commitment of 4 food donations in the current year.

Girls Moving Forward

Communication skills - an important aspect of imparting life skills to young girls from underprivileged communities. This was undertaken by SI Pune Metro East as part of the Girls Moving Forward an ongoing project that addresses their needs through informal learning methods. Workshops are conducted by members themselves at the Deep Griha centre. The aim is to enable these young girls to overcome their social backwardness and be able to take up suitable jobs where communication skills are required.

World Health Day

SI Pune Metro East marked World Health Day by inviting well known diabetologist Dr. C. Rao to talk to a group of members and guests. His topic was "Enjoy life with Diabetes." Dr. Rao shed light on the growing number of diabetes cases due to lifestyles, food habit and stress. As a super specialist researcher in this field he enlightened the audience about ways to manage diabetes by making simple life style changes. President Anubha Ramgopal thanked him for his presentation.

Visit to Care India

To mark Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, some members of SI Pune Metro East visited Vishranti the hospital for terminally ill cancer patients, as also for those on chemotherapy cycles. This 15 bedded small but well maintained hospital is run by Care India Medical Society who have been rendering free service to cancer patients for more than 25 years. It was heartening to see the cleanliness and the care given to the patients comes completely free. President Anubha registered her support on SIPME’s behalf for the purchase of useful vials. This medication is given post chemotherapy when hemoglobin count in patients, goes down.

The Director of Care India Col Nyayapathi took the members around the 2 floors, while explaining the running of it.

Annual PAC meeting

At the end of January 2016 it was time for change of guard .The fourth EC committee of SIPME took over soon got down to orienting members on the plans ahead. Programme Action Chairperson Renu Bhardwaj conducted a session for the Project Conveners and EC members on the Project plans and on the celebration of UN days. The highlight of the session was her presentation on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Role of Advocacy for our Projects.

Celebration of International Women’s Day at SIPME

SI Pune Metro East combined their International Women’s Day (IWD) with bringing the focus on Modern Day Slavery. It was befitting that human trafficking was centre - stage as the theme of this year’s IWD was Gender Parity.

Two women who are working on MSD were honoured by SIPME on this day. Pam Cairns of SI Dundee spearheads the Seema Project in the red- light district of Pune She along with Soroptimists from SI Perth and Girl Guides from Scotland have worked tirelessly to raises funds by raising awareness of this global issue. Her work to raise awareness about human trafficking and street children was recognized . Seema Waghmode, Director of Kayakalpa has worked with CSWs for several years. Now she is determined to rescue and rehabilitate their children. Thus bringing them out of the environment to an alternate home in a different location. Both the women were honoured with citations and traditional shawls.

SIPME and SI Dundee have a Friendship Link and this day marked the formal start of their partnership for the Seema Project which SIPME for their work has named Project ASEEMA - (Limitless). The group of Soroptimists and Girl Guides from Scotland joined in for the event.

SIPME has pledged to raise awareness about MSD and provide support to Project ASEEMA.

Visit to Tara Mobile Creches

A group of Soroptimists and Girl Guides from Scotland visited Pune and along with some SIPME members went to the Tara Mobile Creches(TMC) at their Kondwa Centre. The visitors observed the activities that the Centre organizes for the children and the community at large. They participated in the singing and played games with the children.

TMC is an NGO that works for the construction work community – who are largely migrant workers. They are displaced farmers, extremely unskilled and unlettered people who have moved from distant locations to where ever there is construction work. They live in squalid conditions and builders or contractors are not committed to their welfare. Because of the migratory nature of their lives, they are without proper identity papers and their children have no educations or medical facilities.

SIPME will undertake a larger project with TMC to look after several aspects of the community of almost 200 people at the Kondwa centre.

A Fistful of Grain - Second Event of National Project.

As part of the national Project - a Fistful of Grain - SIPME made their second contribution this time to Tara Mobile Crèches – Kondwa Centre. Mobile Crèche day care centre is where the children of the construction workers are looked after and given food, non - formal education and recreational activities. The requirement for a month long morning meal was estimated for the 119 children and SIPME brought cereals for them.

Scottish Visitors at SNAP unit in Tulapur.

Four of the Scottish visitors currently in Pune braved a bumpy ride and scalding temperatures in auto rickshaws to see the SNAP project functioning. Anupama Sen, Project Convener along with President Anubha met the ladies at Tulapur and showed them the working of the unit, where 4 women from the village are gainfully employed. These women earn money on every sanitary napkin that they have been trained to make. As village women it is a change that they are employed doing something other than farming.

Marking World Water Day 22nd March 2016

SIPME members marked the World Water Day by conducting activities at Emmanuelle Public School. PAC Renu Bhardwaj talked to a group of 25 students both boys and girls on conserving water. Advocating the importance of saving water in a world where water resources have reduced considerably was underlined.
A drawing competition with the theme of conservation was conducted and two of the members judged the entries. President Anubha gave away the prizes to the winners. VP Binita designed book marks for this event and distributed to the students.

Pratima Kapur's Book Launch

Pratima Kapur is an author, artist, an army wife and a Soroptimist! SIPME were honored to be part of the book launch of her second book - Borrowed Plumes. With her writing skills, Pratima is an asset to SIPME.

Visit to Bori

Four members of SIPME accompanied Seema and Shirish Waghmode on a visit to Bori. This is a remote village some 3 hours away from Pune where the Waghmodes are building a home for rehabilitation of children of the commercial sex workers. In this endeavor they are assisted by Soroptimists and girl guides from Scotland. SIPME will partner with SI Dundee their Friendship Link for this project. The visit was a chance to see firsthand the progress of the home, meet the village head and officials and the villages and inquire into the planning of this project.

SIPME's Friendship Link SI Truckee Meadows gets a grant from SI President's Appeal

The Dec 10th SI President's Appeal for Educate to Lead in Nepal has met with enthusiastic response. SI Truckee Meadows (SITM) in the US has been given the first Grant from the Appeal Funds to work in Nepal.

SITM has already an ongoing project in Thulipokhari which is in its 15th year of providing scholarships and dormitory housing for girls in Nepal. It also covers micro - lending for women and earthquake disaster recovery. On March 10th 2016 at a special function there will be a presentation on "Removing Barriers to Education for Girls in Thulipokhari, Nepal". It will be attended by SI President Yvonne Simpson and senior members form SIA.

Proud to be your Friendship Link SITM!

Fun and Friendship at SIPME

The Fun and Friendship component of Soroptimism keeps the bonding level high. It could be the birthday cake for member celebrating the month's birthday, greeting a member's grandchildren or simply enjoying the fellowship at a meeting - these moments add to our staying together. SI Pune Metro East makes every occasion special.

One Billion Rise at AFMC

One Billion Rise is SIPME's awarding winning project on gender sensitization. The latest session on Understanding Gender was delivered by Barkha Bajaj and her AKs Team for the Cadets of Armed Forces Medical College. The session was attended by 150 students and some staff members at the college Lecture Hall.

SIPME members caught in Chennai Floods

Stranded in Chennai floods, SIPME members overwhelmed by Soroptimist friendship.

Three members of SIPME headed to Madurai via Chennai. On their return, Rita Nagpal, Yasmin Jamadar and Nisha Ghosh were caught in the downpour of Chennai. The record breaking rain and flood kept the three marooned for 8 days. Fortunately they were at Soroptimist Naina Shah's house who spared nothing to keep the three visitors well looked after. SIPME members were ever grateful to her and her family's generous gesture. Back in Pune SIPME members gave the flood survivors a warm welcome and thanks to the heavens.

Eye Camp at Medical Outreach

SIPME's Medical Project at the twin villages of Tulapur and Phulgaon continues with camps held to address different medical issues of the villagers. An Eye camp was held with the doctors and cadets of the Armed forces Medical College examining more than 60 village patients. Advice was given for spectacles, and for possible eye surgery. Anupama Sen, Convener of the health project along with 5 SIPME members accompanied the visiting team to coordinate the examining process.

Women and Wellness

Under the series Women and Wellness a seminar was held on Holistic Healing. SIPME member Charu Mudholkar who is a holistic healer conducted the session involving the audience for a brief meditation spell. Another speaker veteran Media person talked on Food as Medicine. Moderated by Programme Action Chairperson Binita Sen, the programme was held at the Holistic Child Development Hall.

Girls Moving Forward (GMF)

Girls Moving Forward (GMF) was conducted at Deep Griha an NGO that works with the low income. All the girls of very low income group live in one of the urban slums. For this second round of GMF twelve workshops spread over 12 months were planned. In December the final workshop was held for 25 girls. They were given tips on studying effectively and all received certificates of participation at the end.

This project focuses on non-formal education. Empowering girls with life skills is the goal of this project. Making them aware of social concerns and the need for education becomes important for them.


The team of Needlewomen made nearly 80 dresses from material donated by members. The dresses were then donated to Renutai's school in the city, which looks after children of the sex workers. SIPME members Yasmin and Rohini spent a morning with the children at the school premises. This is the third lot of dresses made by the Needlewomen.

Hundred reusable bags designed and stitched by the Needlewomen team were made on order for SI Liverpool and shipped to them.

The SIPME bags were also put on sale at Malacca Spice a popular restaurant that host sales for a cause. SIPME President Neerja and other members manned the stall in rotation.

SNAP Advocacy

The Project on Sanitary Napkins Advocacy was launched in March 2015. The project team continues to advocate menstrual hygiene and the use of low cost biodegradable napkins to women and girls in urban as well as slum regions. Anupama Sen the Project Convener has met girls in schools, women in slums, and generally communities where the importance of menstrual hygiene is low. Often girls end their education when they reach puberty as managing their menstruation is challenging. These napkins help to ease the situation and education can continue. The production of the napkins is on-going and provides monthly employment to 5 women at the the manufacturing unit in Tulapur village. The project covers the focus areas of health, economic empowerment, environment sustainability and education.

International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women

Soroptimist International Pune Metro East (SIPME), besides marking the day with the members also sent out the message to stop violence to the group of girls and young women who attend the Girls Moving Forward session - a project of SIPME.

All the girls of very low income group live in one of the urban slums. Empowering them life skills is the goal of this project. Making them aware of social concerns for the dignity of women became important on this day.

The card specially made in Marathi - the local language of this region spells out Stop Violence against Women

Fistful of Grain

The National Association of Soroptimist International -India-set a task to all the Clubs to evolve activity around a project- 'Fistful of Grain.' This is to be the national project and Clubs can tailor the project to suit their local needs.

The goal of this National project is for clubs to look at the aspect of food security and focus on getting clubs collect a fistful of grain from schoolchildren and donate to any institution looking after the poor and the destitute. We at SIPME have decided that. SI Pune Metro East convened and decided that our members will donate for the cause and we will provide a fistful of grain to a local organization in need. It was decided that this grain donation will be conducted four times a year to a different organizations.

In September, members of SIPME went to Emanuel Public School. This school is run by Mr Bhakhtawar Singh and his family for underprivileged children of housemaids, security guards and construction workers. The students get a mid day meal totally dependent on sponsors. SIPME donated 30kgs rice and 8kgs tur daal as the first installment of NASI Project: A Fistful of Grain.

Marking World Literacy Day, members had a fun workshop with the children wherein they were taught Marble Painting and how to create a little garden using plastic bottles. Passages from our Late President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s book ‘Turning Points’ which is about his journey through challenges, were read out. The importance of education was reiterated and they were urged to follow their dreams.

Raising the profile of SIPME, SIGBI and SI and a Lecture on Project Green Turn

In our continued effort to raise the profile of Soroptimist International and Environment Sustainability two of our members addressed members of IASAP (Indian Association of Secretaries and Administrative Professionals), 53 women administrative professionals in July 2015.

The ladies were informed about the work SIPME performs in and around Pune and the service we provide through our different projects to empower women and girls through informal education, healthcare, helping to eliminate violence and environmental sustainability.

Also, through an in-house created power point presentation on waste management, the ladies were carried through many informative and visual slides lasting around one and a half our hour. They were enlightened on the 3 R's i.e. Reduce, Reuse and Recyle, tips on how to save energy, paper, etc. in their day to day lives at home and at their offices, all types of waste management especially bio-degradable waste conversion into rich manure on an individual, home and community basis.

The session was interactive and well received with a question and answer session to conclude.

Educate To Change

Keeping the Soroptimist International's thrust Educate to Lead, SIPME added another new project to its credit. Educate to Change as the new project will be called, is based on sponsorship to deserving, but needy girls to help them overcome the bane of poverty. SIPME already has a non-formal education project - Girls Moving Forward, but the new project is for formal education. 3 girls were identified after which their applications reviewed. The Conveners Nandita Mehta and Dipti Bonsale along with some EC members then interviewed the girls along with their parents. All the three girls have promising futures and SIPME ‘s mentors will play a positive role in making a change in their lives.

One Billion Rise - Train The Trainer

SIPME continues to expand its team of volunteers to conduct the One Billion Rise Modules on Gender Sensitization. Towards this Convener Jennifer Kumar along with Neerja Bajaj conducted the second Train the Trainer session. This time there were 11 volunteers. Use the LCD the volunteers were first given a brief on the Soroptimist focus and the SIPME projects. Then they were taken through the 3 modules and shown the kind of queries they could face. It is hoped that the volunteers will be ready to take on the presentations in different schools.

SIPME Bonding

In the month of June - a typical Indian summer with typical SIPME bonding four members felicitated for their June birthdays - a fantastic gathering with superb Soroptimism. Rita Nagpal, Rohini Khare, Jennifer Kumar and Kiran Ambwani together cut a sparkling cake to add to the fun of the evening

National Meeting Of Soroptimist Clubs In Pune

The National Association of Soroptimist International - India (NASI) held its annual AGM and the EC meeting on 27th June in Pune. Hosted by SI Poona, the two day session covered different important points related to NASI as well as concerns of the individual Clubs in India. Programme Action took centre stage on Day 2 and PACs of all clubs read reports of their Club projects. Binita Sen PAC-SIPME presented details of the SNAP project.

Nisha Ghosh (SIPME) was asked to present her report on her visit to New York for the CSW-59. She made a powerpoint presentation. The 8 members from SIPME had an opportunity to participate in the fellow - ship with other Soroptimists. NASI President spent time with the 8 members to know more about the Club's activities. Nisha Ghosh made an informal presentation of the body of work and its achievements.

SNAP - Training Workshop For The Village Women

The SNAP project took a step ahead, by training 5 women of the village for marketing. A workshop was conducted by Binita Sen and Anupama Sen to give the women a better understanding of Menstrual Hygiene. They were also taught about the importance of the eco - friendly bio - degradable sanitary towel.

The workshop included group activities that would help the women to understand more about marketing the product in the rural areas as well as empower them to work cohesively so the SNAP movement would reach its goals.

SIPME Vice President Anubha Ramgopal presently at NASA

Anubha Ramgopal, SI Pune Metro East Vice President and a science educator at a High School is selected to be part of a group of educators from across the world to participate in a science workshop at NASA in Huntsville USA. The two week long visit takes educators into NASA centre and its simulation units. The purpose of the whole programme is to work on innovative ideas of science and astronomy which the educators could take back to their respective schools.

World Environment Day 2015

SIPME marked the day this year with two events.

The eco - friendly sanitary napkin of SIPME's SNAP project were distributed in Siddharth Nagar a low income community area. Anupama Sen the convener of the SNAP project, as a doctor propagated the use of these bio-degradable napkins to the women gathered and gave the napkins free of cost. Several members from the club were present to talk to the women and help them understand the benefits of the new napkins.

On the same day six members of SIPME joined a group of environment conscious citizens in the neighbourhood. They all had gathered to plant trees in an area, which was formerly very green but due to indiscriminate construction has become devoid of greenery. The local Corporator Nanda Lonkar was present to give her support. SIPME's gives a hand in re-forestation!

SIPME at CSW - 59

India made it's entry with the Soroptimist delegation at the Commission for the Status of Women - 59 in New York. Nisha Ghosh from SIPME and Naina Shah from SI Chennai Downtown joined the SIGBI delegation and also participated in one of the key event presented by Soroptimist International at the NGOs Forum. Nisha Ghosh's presentation was part of the Present but Invisible - It's time to Hear our Stories. Her focus was on domestic violence – a personal story interwoven with the present laws and the shortcomings within the system. Soroptimists have a huge presence and at this historic CSW their visibility was evident during the International Women's Day Walk and at various forums. On her return Nisha gave the club members a detailed presentation of the issues at CSW and the outcomes and of course the whole experience of being part of a global gathering of women. She was given a standing ovation by the club after her presentation.

Needlewoman Project

SIPME's needlewomen kept the project alive. Both in the Bags Project of Needlewomen and in the Dresses Project there has been continued activity. Over the past few months more than 2 dozen dresses for girls of different ages were stitched. These gave temporary employment to a young seamstress, while the cutting and designing has been done by members of the needlewomen themselves. The last lot of dresses for girls was given to a centre in Budhwarpet for the children of the sex-workers. It is proposed to make another hundred so that we could give them to different centres. Members have contributed material and trimmings.

The Bags Project complete the production of 100 bags. This was on request from SI Liverpool. Rohini Khare the Convener of this project worked hard to complete the order and have the right colour for the logo printing. Made reusable bags are going places and a photo was sent from Amsterdam of a bicycle where a SIPME made bag was hanging. The bags were also taken to New York by Nisha Ghosh and presented to the 2 Clubs there.

SNAP Updates

The Sanitary Napkins Advocacy Project was launched at the Tulapur village with much fanfare. The women from the village selected for assisting in the manufacturing unit set up there have been trained and are on the job. Manufacturing of the low cost sanitary napkins has begun and samples given to women and girls in the village itself. There was a suggestion that these napkins should be sent as part of the relief for Nepal. Several extra napkins were made for that. Anupama Sen who heads the project has outlined a plan to reach the urban slum areas as also housemaids and begin an awareness drive there.

Train the Trainer this Summer

In an effort to boost the number of facilitators for the delivery of the One Billion Rise modules in School, SIPME held a training session for some 10 volunteers. Conducted by Jenny Kumar the Convener of the Project with inputs from Neerja Bajaj. Jenny gave an introduction to the project, the need of the hour in sensitizing school children to be aware of their safety, and understanding the gender issues. She also mentioned that sessions were conducted for both parents and educators to make a meaningful change. Volunteers trained must attend a session as observers and then conduct the sessions independently.

Workshop on enabling Safety in Schools

President Neerja and four other members of SI Pune Metro East attended the workshop and were given certificates for their participation. Organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Semaa (Stop Exploitation, Molestation Abuse and Assault), at the Kalmadi School Pune, the workshop aimed to look at the concerns of safety for children in Schools. It was ably moderated by Dr. Padmini Sundaram, with the legal framework explained by Advocate Vaishali Bhagwat, followed by case studies of actual incidents that have heightened the worry of both educators and parents. Jennifer Kumar Convenor of SIPME's One Billion Rise project shared details of the project. SIPME's partner in gender and discrimination matters AKS was represented by Director Barkha Bajaj .

Annual General Body Meeting

SI Pune Metro East had its sixth Annual General Body Meeting in April 2015 at the China Grill Lounge. Secretary Renu read the minutes of the last AGM (2014) followed by the presentation of reports by the President, Secretary, PAC, Friendship Link Officer and Treasurer. Some of the new members were present and after the business of the AGM, they introduced themselves. Ann Rodgers senior member inaugurated the new projector - SIPME's first asset.

New Projector – A Friendship Gesture

Friendship Links are a way in which clubs in Soroptimist International support and connect with each other across the world. The support goes a long way in taking the linked club forward as well as taking the entire organization a step ahead. SIPME's very first Friendship Link SI Truckee Meadows has provided us with their generous donation of a project and a screen. This was a much required need. It will facilitate the One Billion Rise team to deliver their modules in schools with greater ease, as well as being useful for events, meetings and presentations. A big thank you from all at SIPME to all at SITM!

Girls Moving Forward

One of the most successful projects of the Club which began in 2010 ran through 12 sessions in 3 years was launched again with a slightly different structure. Season 2 as we like to call it has been specially designed on request for Deep Griha a grass root organization that works with the community. 20 girls attend the once a month session and learn a new skill or a new take home message. Subjects of the modules delivered vary from self-awareness to self - defence to craft and environment awareness. These sessions will continue for a year which is a commitment given. Conducted by SIPME's very own members, who draw out their own skills to engage the young girls and fill in the gaps in their practical skill knowledge as well as life skills. At the end of the complete routine certificates of participation will be given.

Bach Flower Therapy

SIPME organized a special session on Bach Flower Therapy for a group. It was conducted by Dr. Gulshan Thukral and coordinated by Membership Officer Neilum Mulgaonkar. Dr. Thukral explained how Bach flower therapy works and about its powerful medical value. She taught the group about the pills and tinctures and the application of the therapy to patients. Neilum took the opportunity to talk of Soroptimist International as well as the work and projects of SIPME to the group. Most of them were not Soroptimists.

Inauguration of the Sanitary Napkin Advocacy Project (SNAP)

As part of our International Women's Day celebrations, SIPME inaugurated the SNAP Project on 15th March 2015. Seven women of Tulapur village are in this project. This is going to have a three pronged effect by educating the women about personal hygiene, empowering them towards economic independence and finally enabling them to run a small scale industry on their own. We have four members of SIPME overseeing this project which will run for a year. We will review its feasibility at the end of one year and thereafter would like to replicate the same in other rural areas.

Seminar: Women and Wellness: Focus on Mental Health of Women

Soroptimist International Pune Metro East celebrated the International Women's Day by organizing a Seminar - "Women and Wellness" to focus on the mental health issues of women. The purpose of this Seminar was to initiate a dialogue and sweep the dust from over this taboo topic of women and mental illness and trace the path of physiological development in women and how at every stage of life the mind can get affected. To discuss the socio - economic deterrents to positive mental health and to stress on the fact that: If you suffer from any of the symptoms, you are not alone and your situation is reversible with counselling and medical intervention. All you have to do is connect with a professional from the field and you will be on your way to recovery.
The event was attended by 10 men and 82 women participants from teens to senior citizens. The Convenor of the seminar was Binita Sen - PAC SIPME

We Turned Five

Soroptimist International Pune Metro East marked five years of being part of Soroptimist International. President Neerja Bajaj welcomed members to a lively lunch gathering at a local Club. This time no speeches, no presentations, no guests, just wholesome fun, chat and good food. Games added to the upbeat mood and some reminisced about Jan 31st 2010 the day then Federation President Jackie Mosedale handed the Charter. The President and two past Presidents, together cut the anniversary cake.

SIPME Gets A Visitor

Zarreen Babu, member from SI Kodaikanal visited SIPME, and joined in with us. An active member of her club she has done commendable work as PAC to lay the foundation of projects and give her club visibility.

SIPME Joins Highways Infinite On Its Annual Cancer Walk

Continuing their mission to raise awareness about garbage collection and segregation the Environment Project Convenor Renu Bhardwaj with the help of other members organized meetings at different residential complexes. A short Interactive, awareness, leaflets distributed with points to save our Planet, Garbage Segregation method was demonstrated as also Importance of Recycle and Reuse.

An audience of 30 residents attended the first session at Nivedita Terraces, and more than 35 at Sunshree Emerald. House maids formed part of the audience and the message was delivered to very positive audiences. More such presentations are planned at community centres. Reuseable bags made by SIPME were available at both sessions.

SIPME Extends A Helping Hand

Moved by the plight of a young girl displaced from her home and state due to unprecedented flood in the Kashmir Valley, Soroptimists of SI Pune Metro East responded by visiting their camp site. The girl is one of the 300 odd displaced persons who lost their home and hearth. She revealed that the children mostly students had lost their books and when and if they do return to the snowbound valley will find it difficult to pick up the thread of their education.

Post the floods these persons were relocated to a very basic camp site, and have lived on aid and kindness of others. Food was their immediate need.

SIPME members put together grains, cooking oil, vegetables and other food necessities and handed them over to the families.

Celebration Time

Members of SIPME took time off to celebrate the success of the Club for its Event in October 2014 - 'Chords for a Cause', and also for the successful visit to Harrogate of 3 members. The One Billion Rise project on gender sensitization won the Best Practice Award along with 3 other Clubs in India, and together they went on to win the Overall Winners’ Trophy jointly with Clubs from the Republic of Ireland. The evening provided an opportunity for members bonding.

A Friend of SIPME visits from Germany

SI Freudenstadt has been a strong friend of SIPME from the pre charter days. The presence of four of their members at SIPME’s Charter renewed those bonds of friendship. On 19th Nov, Dorothee Schamlz their Founder President visited Pune and spent two fruitful days with the club members. Jennifer Kumar made a presentation of all our projects with special focus on One Billion Rise. She was then walked through the start and the growth of the Needlewoman Project. President Neerja presented her with bags from the Bags project. Dorothee experienced first hand the work Anupama Sen and her team were doing during the day trip to the Medical Outreach Project at Phulgaon village. She was also given a brief of the Sanitary Towels Awareness Project being put in place at the village. Later she met Suchitra Date and her dance students who had visited the Black Forest Region earlier this year.

NASI meet at Chennai - SIPME attends

President Neerja Bajaj and Secretary Renu Bhardwaj represented SIPME at the National Association Soroptimist International EC and AGM at Chennai from 29th Nov.

There was a change of guard at the meeting and a new NASI Committee took charge. NASI President Shreelata Narayanan welcomed SIGBI Vice President Ann Hodgson who was present on the occasion. The new team put forth their plan of action for the next two years and promised a healthy interaction between Clubs in India.

SIPME Shines at Harrogate 2014

At the 80th SIGBI Conference in Harrogate UK SI Pune Metro East came away with two awards jointly won with 3 Clubs. With two nominations in their bag President Neerja Bajaj, Secretary Renu Bhardwaj and SIGBI Friendship Link Coordinator Nisha Ghosh headed for Harrogate. The moment of truth was when along with SI Kodaikanal, SI Bangalore, SI Chennai SIPME won the Best Practice award for its Gender Sensitization project - One Billion Rise. The icing on the cake was when same Clubs in India were declared overall winners jointly with Clubs in Republic of Ireland for their Projects on Mental Health.

SIPME represented at the Harrogate Conference

The 80th SIGBI Conference started in Harrogate with great fanfar with more that 1300 delegates from 29 countries of this Federation in attendence. Soroptimists cheered as the flags of all the countries were taken to the stage and also when delegates of each country present stood in response to the roll call before the start of the Conference. An entertainment programme marked the end of the opening ceremony. President Neerja Bajaj, along with Secretary Renu Bhardwaj were present at the opening ceremony as well as the FPAC meeting on the first morning. Nisha Ghosh, SIGBI Friendship Link Coordinator presented her annual report of the Friendship Link at the FPAC meeting.

SIPME celebrates "International Day of the Girl Child" with their first public event - 'Chords for a Cause'

Soroptimist International Pune Metro East organized their first public event with a musical evening 'Chords for a Cause'. This also marked the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child - a day important in the Soroptimist Calender - as the organization focuses on educating, empowering and enabling women and girls. Members worked hard for the last 6 months to mount the event.

The star singer for the evening was Neeharika Naidu - who not only is singer par excellence. Trained in classical music Neeharika is a TV and Radio artist who has sung for the Indian troops at every possible venue. Most importantly she is a woman who reaches out for social causes. She enthralled the audience with evergreen songs that got everyone clapping and singing along with her.

Several leading corporate houses and business units lent their support that enabled the event to be a resounding success. SIPME also launched their new website on this day as well as brought out a brochure to mark the event.

SI Pune Metro East Swings into Action for Swacch Bharat

Swacch Bharat(Clean India) the clarion call by the Prime Minister of India, got the Soroptimists of this Club gather at a neighbourhood open ground. Unfortunately this ground is used as a dumping place by all the nearby shops and restaurants. The Environment Project Committee asked the Pune Corporation to provide a truck to take away the garbage. More than an hour later a garbage laden truck drove off and Soroptimists returned a satisfied lot, but not without pledging to work once every week. This is towards environment sustainability.

President Neerja Bajaj Addresses the Rotary Down Town Chapter

On Oct 2nd Rotary Downtown Club invited President Neerja Bajaj to talk on Gender based issues. Her presentation "Shatter the Silence" was based on the work on violence against women addressed both by SI Pune Metro East as well as Aks Foundation of which she is the Communications Director. The Rotary President appreciated the efforts that her organizations were making and several members of the audience asked questions on the possibility of partnership with their organizations.

Jennifer Kumar was invited to speak on Soroptimist as an organization and its goals

As part of 80th year of the SIGBI effort to raise the profile of Soroptimist International, SI Pune Metro seizes every opportunity, whether its official functions, parents meetings, at school, during and outside project activity. The Indian Association of Secretaries and Administrative Professionals had an evening meeting where the topic was Corporate Social Responsibility. This fits very well into the work that Soroptimists do.

Jennifer Kumar member of SI Pune Metro East and Convenor of the Project One Billion Rise, was invited to speak on Soroptimist as an organization and its goals. She stressed upon the need to give back through volunteering, and suggested ways in which professionals could join hands with Soroptimists.

President Neerja Bajaj Honoured by Educational Institutes

President Neerja Bajaj of Soroptimist International Pune Metro East, was honoured for her work in the field of women and girls. Neerja is the director of AKS, a counselling agency that has its own help line and reaches out to battered women and other victims of abuse. The Sunderji Group of Institutes in Pune presented her with a scroll of honour and the traditional shawl of honour.

Neerja's contribution to SIPME's ongoing Project One Billon Rise that adresses issues of Gender Sensitization – was mentioned in the citation and with this the spotlight was drawn to Soroptmist Organization itself.