Last month Sakhi completed its third computer literacy workshop of the year. The course was attended by survivors who dedicated five consecutive Saturdays by coming into Sakhi’s computer lab and participating in the classes. Furthermore, 6 survivors graduated from the workshop, each devoting at least four Saturdays and over 15 hours to the classroom in order to receive their certificates. These classes are an important component of Sakhi’s Economic Empowerment program since offering education to and assisting them to develop computer skills are necessary steps to helping them achieve independence.
The computer literacy workshops function as part of Sakhi’s larger empowerment philosophy: promoting self-sufficiency through both economic and emotional support. Each class focuses on tasks that will be helpful to survivors as they strive to better their lives. The curriculum usually concentrates on improving typing skills, mastering Microsoft Word, conducting job searches and becoming more comfortable with e-mail communication. In discussing November’s classes, workshop volunteer Alissa notes that, “this series of computer classes focused on basic Internet, e-mail and word processing skills, but also included job searching and resume development.” During this particular session the survivors were also taught simple graphic design in order to create flyers and other minor media. Additionally, time was also devoted to writing resumes and cover letters, tasks necessary to help survivors enter or re-enter the work-force.
This workshop does more than provide survivors with the tools needed to succeed professionally; the classes send a message that those attending have the potential to change their lives and fulfill their goals. In this sense, attending a computer class is not only about learning the basics of word processing or internet navigation. Rather, these classes signify the active role survivors are taking towards self-sufficiency. Sakhi’s Economic Empowerment coordinator, Jyotswaroop Bawa, states that joining the computer literacy workshop often leads survivors to seek one-on-one job assistance through Sakhi. She says that, “survivors attend computer literacy classes in order to attain a job by developing marketing skills or learning how to market their own skills.” She cites the example of a survivor who used her time in the classes to write and finalize a resume with the aim of applying to jobs. Not only did she succeed in putting together a structured resume but she acquired a job just two weeks after completing the workshop! In this way, survivors prove that they are capable and willing to change their lives, and Sakhi is more than willing to provide them with the tools necessary to bring about these changes.