Hi! I'm Lipi Gupta.

I had an adventure this summer in Agra, India trying to make a difference in the lives of 35 young women of Nagla Kharga Village. I'd like to share my experience with you; I hope their stories move you as much as they have inspired me! Thank you for reading and feel free to contact me [by posting a comment/question] if I can be of assistance in any way, in a similar endeavor of yours!

Project SHAKTI was funded as one of 2009's 100 Projects for Peace.

Project SHAKTI Overview

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My Process in Carrying Out Project SHAKTI

March - June:
  • I prepared by reading and researching, talking to women in the field of women's studies and development in Agra and the US to finalize on "curriculum" specifics, coordinating with contacts in Agra, and purchasing materials I would need
 June - August: Executing the Program
  • My Game Plan for Building and Maintaining Trust (which was *key*)
    • Practiced Hindi (especially their dialect) and rehearsed lessons so that I can DELIVER and fullfill agreements
    • Talked Straight Only made promises I could keep (this was difficult and stressful because a lot, including transportation and what time I could arrive at the village was out of my hands).
    • Remained CONSISTENT -- in being myself, in maintaining my positivity, sense of humor, and energy levels, in practicing principles I preached (e.g. respect, optimism), in achieving discipline, and in talking straight when I could and sticking to my story when I couldn't (e.g. about available funds). As someone who hates to cut corners, it was incredibly challenging to do all this and decide what kinds of compromises to make, because there were times I was forced to.
    • Requested constructive criticism/feedback and strove to improve; Held myself and others accountable for following ground rules for mutual respect, etc. (It took time for me to learn to do this despite power structure barriers to honest and open communication.)
    • Listened to them: asked questions to give them opportunity to explain rather than assume anything, didn't interrupt or rush them even when they were slow to open up or talk.
    • Trusted the girls -- more and more as they earned it.
    • Finally, again, DID what I Promised and DELIVERED RESULTS (which to them was running a fun, interesting, educational, regular program with healthy snacks and activities that engaged them in positions of leadership, initiative, creativity, introspection, as well as being someone who would unconditionally believe in them, see their strengths, and love them.)
September - Current: Working to Keep the Message Alive from Afar
  • I call them regularly and intend to mail them some more pictures of themselves participating, to remind them of all that they accomplished. 
  • I encourage them on the phone to keep up the good work, and to keep thinking positively about themselves.

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