Navajeevana means ‘new life’ and Nilaya means ‘abode’ or ‘residence’ in Kannada. The Navajeevana Nilaya girls’ hostel came into existence in 2001 as a cost-effective, safe and enabling response to shelter problems faced by young girls aged between 18 to 25 years, who had completed their training and apprenticeship at Nammane, and who were newly recruited employees in local companies. The girls come from various disadvantaged backgrounds – single parents, orphans, girls from alcoholic families or those facing physically exploitative situations.
With basic starting salaries, high cost of consumer items and rising standards of living, most of these young women are unable to earn a sufficient income during their initial year of employment to sustain themselves and their families. The only other choice for such girls is to quit working and go back to their homes or villages to face further exploitation. Navajeevana Nilaya provides a secure place for these young girls to stay for a year or more, usually the first year of their employment, thus eliminating the pressure of taking up expensive rental accommodation outside. Although the girls pay a modest amount towards rent, Navajeevana Nilaya provides an opportunity for the girls to save a good portion of their salaries towards family expenses, education, and marriage and so on.
However, Navajeevana provides more than just secure space – it creates an opportunity for the girls to develop skills necessary to live confidently and independently, rehabilitation opportunities for youth, support towards personality development and empowerment of young women to grow into responsible, economically independent and self-sufficient citizens.
Extension of facilities to other youth
From its decades of grassroots’ experience and work with urban slum communities, APSA observed that many young girls from outside APSA working areas experienced similar problems – coming from underprivileged families, these youth were not highly educated and thus, were able to obtain only small employment. Family dependence on their incomes meant that a large portion of their incomes needed to be saved, a near-impossible task in Bangalore city.
Thus, APSA began extending Navajeevana Nilaya’s facilities to young women outside APSA projects and working areas who needed care and protection and a secure place to stay during the first year of their employment.
The Hostel has a cook and a Caretaker. It runs on a ‘self-help’ and ‘work-together’ concept whereby girls in groups involve in the running of the hostel by sharing daily chores of cooking, keeping the premises clean, washing their own clothes and other tasks, which are rotated between groups on a weekly or monthly basis. Each group has a chosen leader who monitors the tasks, behaviour and well-being of the members and provided direction and advice. Leadership is rotated, ensuring that all the girls have a chance to develop leadership, group management and conflict resolution skills.
Weekly meetings are held between the residents and APSA staff. The meetings provide space for the girls to share issues of conflicts between peers, hostel functioning, personal or family problems, problems they may encounter at the workplace or even to plan their career or further education. One-on-one counseling sessions are also available for girls who require it. The meetings are used by the APSA staff to build up the girls’ skills in conflict resolution and negotiation, decision-making, money management, leadership and teamwork, thereby building their ability and confidence towards independent living.