You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

– Maya Angelou

It was in 1995 and against the backdrop of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, that we undertook a study on violence against women. The study was designed as part of a campaign for strengthening women’s rights, resisting violence against women and promoting their political participation. Bandhavi, a short stay home for women in distress was a result of this study. It was initially conceptualized to support and shelter the victims of domestic violence, a place where women could gather the strength to heal themselves and rebuild their lives. Bandhavi offered legal counsel, medical care, physiological and moral support as well as vocational training. These, we hoped, would empower women to move forward in life. Soon Bandhavi transitioned into a programme for ‘Girls at Risk’. This shift was a natural evolution of our commitment towards marginalized communities; the dalits and the most vulnerable, the Devadasi women and their girl children.

 Inaugurated on 10th December 2005, on International Human Rights Day, Bandhavi initiated a small step towards restoring the rights of young girls from North Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh largely belonging to Dalit community. The program supports the girls build a positive sense of self, raises consciousness about multiple injustices, equips them to engage with society and develops their leadership skills. Currently there are 151 children directly benefitting from the project including the children in Samagara Shikshana Shale (SSS), the primary school on the campus which is a component of the project. Bandhavi is supported by Kindernothilfe (KNH), Germany.

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