Borderless World Foundation was founded in the midst of crisis of Kashmir conflict. Even though registered on May 12th 2002, the founders had begun working in the valley since 1997.
Having witnessed the situation firsthand during a survey assignment and working on various relief and community aid programmes, they felt it was imperative that they did something to contribute to protecting and nurturing the girl children as they were the most vulnerable section of the society.
Surpassing countless life threatening situations, they continued to work and build bonds of trust. These bonds of friendship with locals, formed during these 4 years, were their strongest capital. What began as a humble 2 room abode with 3 children in 2002 has now (2015) grown to 4 homes in four different districts of the state with a total of 165 girl children in the age group of 1 to 18. Our homes are called Basera-e-Tabassum (Abode of Smiles). They are located in Kupwara, Beerwah, Anantnag and Jammu. Each home has a full time staff of house manager, housemothers, cooks – all female staff and a watchman who is a male staff. Besides this, we have a local coordinator who takes care of all supply and maintenance related responsibilities and local senior advisors who step in whenever there is something to be sorted out on policy level, especially matters related to customs and traditions of community.
The primary focus of the organization is to give the girls the kind of education that helps them live meaningful and contributive lives in the society.
Towards this we have been consistently active through the means of engaging the girls in variety of activities besides the mainstream education. Among these activities, are our “Winter Education and Culture Exchange Tours”. In Kashmir the schools are closed for over two months during winter and we were keen on utilising this time constructively. We had to wait to raise funds and build a volunteer base in places where we wanted to take the children. Since 2008 we have been taking children to Pune, Delhi, Nashik, Mumbai, Hyderabad and other places where children engage in variety of activities and exchanges with institutions and individuals who are experts of various fields. This has given the children precious opportunities to connect with children of their own age in different kind of social environment as well as opportunities of learning skills during these two months which are either not available at all or not accessible in the valley. There has been a tremendous impact of these tours on children’s confidence level and width and depth of their knowledge about the world. Because of the counselling sessions with experts and emotional support from families of BWF supporters during these tours, there has been significant improvement in children’s mental health and consequently some of the frequently occurring issues such as seizers and epilepsy attacks have disappeared almost completely.
Among other interventions unique to Borderless World Foundation is photography workshops and theater workshops. Started in 2008 the photography workshops have given many girls an opportunity to experience freedom of expression. Five of them won national awards and am exhibition of their work was hosted by Nehru Memorial at Teem Murti Bhavan in Delhi in 2010. Now a new batch of girls have also began engaging in photography with refreshing seriousness and joy. Three of them are seriously considering photography as a career. They are in the age group of 12 to 15.
The theater workshops too have been effective in improving children’s linguistic skills as well as confidence and ability of articulation. These, we believe are critical abilities for them to be successful in society in future.
The most recent addition to such activities is the “Women’s Development Center” opened in Kupwara in the month of June 2015. We had taken some of our senior girls whobhad graduated out of our homes, (age group 19 to 23) to Pune for training in various entrepreneurial and technical skills on the basis of which they could start business enterprises in their native places. These girls are now back from their training and with the help of donors and well wishers, have started businesses such as embroidery with CNC machine, Sanitary Napkin production, tailoring, and digital printing. These products are not commonly available in the area and have good customer base in local community. In its nascent stage at the moment, the production units have been established in a building rented by BWF right next to our home in Sulkoot, Kupwara. They are beginning to be noticed by locals and fetching business gradually.
As our supporter base has grown gradually entirely due to tireless efforts of our founders, we are now beginning to find ways of contributing to communities, especially those surrounding our homes.
Last year when the floods devastated the state and worst hit were the artisans and farmers, BWF stepped in to help people with Ambulances, Medical squads, medicines, water and providing handlooms to the Weavers who had lost everything in the floods especially their means of livelihood – their handlooms.
This year in September 2015 BWF has donated four fully equipped Ambulances to state government and the Chief Minister of J&K Mufti Mohammed launched these Ambulances as part of the state’s drive for providing Emergency Medical Services.
This year (2015) we have also taken a big step forward which is to acquire an office space in the capital city of Srinagar. It had been our dream for a long time but wanting to responsibly spend every single rupee donated by our supporters, we have always tried our best to optimise admin expenses. This year though, we have been able to afford not only office space but also employed three additional staff members. One is a MSW female, one MSW male and one driver/office assistant. This office and human resource is boosting our capacity to monitor and improve our ways of taking care of children in every way, improve our documentation and compliances as well as designing and implementing new progressive programmes.
This new office is also becoming a base for a lot of activities for the children as well as staff such as training sessions & workshops. We intend to utilise this facility to its fullest potential by developing every square inch thoughtfully.
All our homes are currently in rented buildings and we are keenly aware that at times children do get a sense of insecurity because we don’t own those buildings. Besides, how conducive we can make our campuses for the children is restricted as we are not allowed to make any major change in the basic structure of the building. In the last four years, we have been able to buy land in Kupwara (approx 100kms from Srinagar towards north) and Beerwah (approx 45 kms from Srinagar towards north-west). These have been bought with the thought of constructing our own homes that can not only become a home for the children but also become an activity center for the women of the area for training, learning and sharing. One of our friends who is a reputed architect, has developed a design for the building keeping all requirements in mind but we are yet to start construction because we don’t have funds for such a big operation yet.
Our latest exciting news is that our organization has been registered in USA and now BWF USA is ready to soar into the skies of growth.
With such expansion we are naturally reorganizing our operating methods but the traditional BWF culture of mutual respect and transparent hard work is the foundation of all that we do.