Meeting the Needs
BNF identified nuns as one of the most under served sections of the society in terms of education, skills development, health, hygiene, nutrition and basic living standards. In reaching out to nuns and nunneries, BNF felt the urgency of providing support to basic needs and improving facilities and living conditions of nuns, particularly in remote areas of the country, which are deprived of these minimum facilities. Nuns also require special attention in terms of their needs as vulnerable children, adolescent and young girls, and elderly women.
Most of the nuns enter the nunnery at a young age, many as young as 5 or 6 years. There are many different reasons why they enter the nunnery. Many parents or families are unable to support them due to poverty or other disadvantages, many of them are orphans, some have health or other issues and families consider them a burden. Usually they do not have any or little formal education. Most enter for spiritual training and a life of devotion. But they have no other skills or trainings to prepare them for future livelihood, particularly if/when they leave the nunnery.
Nuns play quite a significant role in their communities. Through their traditional, spiritual roles within their communities, they come in close relationship with other women, girls and community leaders. There is an opportunity for them to play the role of social motivator for change, counselor, mentor or guide and do other social services, if they are trained and motivated to do so. However, their additional or enhanced roles as educators, caregivers, more service-oriented, care-oriented roles are not identified or understood clearly. But the need for promoting this role is becoming more urgent in the present-day context and situation.
BNF recognizes that in the changing context of modern day society with its emerging issues, problems and needs, the role of the nuns need to respond and be relevant to these challenges and changes. This reality requires that the role of the nuns should be expanded to include other social services, in addition to their spiritual roles. Awareness of nuns as women, facing women’s issues and needs, their situation and position in society, the need for their upliftment and empowerment are also concerns and challenges that BNF is aiming to help them understand and address.
BNF saw the gaps and opportunities to educate them and make them aware of these needs and how to deal with them. In particular, BNF identified nuns as potential agents of social change, helping grassroots girls and women in their communities to be educated, skilled and empowered to face the challenges of the modern-day society. For this new and expanded role as teachers, trainers, counselors, health workers, nuns require awareness, skills training, and motivation.
The BNF training programmes will provide nuns with skills they do not get in the spiritual training they traditionally receive. Nuns can use their skills to serve society and even bring income to support their nunnery, or to make them self-sustained in the future.
Thus, the goal of BNF is to promote nuns, girls and grassroots women as social workers and agents of social change by
- providing quality education and training to nuns, girls and grassroots women to become effective community teachers, health workers and counselors
- training nuns and grassroots girls and women to have at least one employable skill for economic sustainability of self, nunneries, and families
- strengthen the capacity of the nuns and women, particularly for the heads of nunneries and grassroots women’s groups in leadership and management skills
Recognizing that this effort to promote nuns and grassroots girls and women as social workers and agents of social change needed concerted efforts and long-term commitment, BNF decided to develop a Training and Resource Centre (TRC) with full-fledged training programmes to carry forward the training and development needs of nuns, grassroots women, girls and youth.
The TRC is envisioned to be a vibrant, dynamic institution that will focus on nuns, women and girls, primarily those at the grassroots level, to become skilled and empowered, and promoting the well-being of others and themselves. To achieve the goal and purpose of the TRC, a strategic plan with goals,
objectives and activities have been drawn up.
Objectives and Activities
This project proposal will carry forward the development of the TRC and its programmes through the following objectives and activities:
Objective 1: Train nuns and women in the understanding of the context of women’s life, issues and problems and learning ways to work for women’s development and empowerment in all relevant areas, and improve themselves, their nunneries, families, and others in their communities who need this
- Design and facilitate trainings and workshops in women’s development, gender issues, women’s empowerment, and coordinate with organizations working in this field to bring changes to unfavorable situations or environments forwomen, nuns and others
- Train nuns and women as counselors or mentors to work with nuns, nunneries and women in their society to deal with problems relating to women and gender issues, or other social issues and problems (e.g. sexual harassment and abuse, drugs and alcohol abuse, and prevention of
Objective 2: Train nuns and women in leadership and management, training and facilitation, social awareness and motivation, counseling and mentoring, health/hygiene/nutrition, NFE, palliative care, hospice, and other employable and relevant skills to enable them to effectively run institutions such as nunneries, government and civil society organizations.
- Design and facilitate trainings on leadership and management that will develop practical, employable skills such as programme and project development, office
management and administration, finance and accounting roles and responsibilities, monitoring and evaluation concepts and practice, ICT etc.
- Design and facilitate workshops and trainings on skill development in Training and Facilitation, Social Awareness
and Motivation, Counseling and Mentoring, Health, Hygiene & Nutrition, Palliative Care, Hospice, Geriatric Care, Basic Education & NFE, Special Needs Care and other emerging areas.
Objective 3: Promote and facilitate spiritual, social and recreational events and activities for nuns, women and youth through retreats, camps and other opportunities for spiritual and psychological well-being, sharing experiences and learning from each other, and helping those facing social and psychological issues and problems.
- Organize and facilitate short retreats and camps for nuns, women and youth
- Short camps for nuns/women/youth on self-awareness and confidence building (how to express their views, sharing and interaction, games for fun and enjoyment, understand their potential, build confidence, public speaking, taking leadership roles)
- Parental camps for parents of youth with problems
- Fund-raising events – organizing walks, selling crafts in different events like ‘mela’ or fair or ‘meena-bazar’, setting up stalls by business or shops in these events
- Event for tourists – for exposure to traditional craft, skills, products, food – proceeds to go to the training centre
- Nuns festival – organized by nuns & performed by them, interesting activities to promote healthy and positive attitudes and activities, set up stalls to sell products by people interested in helping the centre
- Promote awareness campaigns – for prevention of social problems such as suicide, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, mental disease etc.