Fehmida Malik is a 42-year-old woman from Dholka, a small town near Ahmedabad in Gujarat. People in her community, who are primarily Muslim, often do not encourage girls to work after their studies. Luckily, Fehmida grew up in a well-educated and supportive family who encouraged her to follow her passions. As a young girl, Fehmida decided to dedicate her life to helping people with mental disabilities. She successfully completed her M.A. in Clinical Psychology and secured a job with an NGO to work with the Dalit children in Gujarat. However, the violent ethnic riots of Gujarat in 2002 changed Fehmida’s life completely. For someone who believed in a secular world, the atrocities committed against her Muslim community completely shocked her! Her heart particularly went out for the children affected through the riots. Soon after, Fehmida committed herself completely to helping the traumatised children in the refugee camp at Vatva. With financial aid pouring in from all parts of the world, Fehmida worked hard with a local organisation addressing sanitation, nutrition and health issues in an effort to bring normalcy to the lives of the refugees.
Unfortunately, very soon she realized that the organization was swindling the funds meant for the refugees. Fehmida was extremely disappointed and angry. Determined to make a difference through honest work, she decided to work alone. With time, Fehmida’s work with the children helped her gain the trust of the refugee camp residents. They approached her to help make their lives more sustainable. With some initial funding from Indo Global Social Service Society, Fehmida established her own organization- the Sambodh Chartiable Trust with 47 women volunteers. Today, Sambodh has grown into a strong family of 2000 women members who address basic human rights, gender sensitization and developmental issues. The Sambodh Charitable Trust educates and empowers poor communities in the areas of women and children’s rights, education, nutritional health and natal care, government schemes, and micro-savings and credit. Though Fehmida is unsure about how her small organization will attain the FCRA status to qualify for future funding, she remains hopeful.