The Shantipath Peace Centres came about as a result of the 2002 riots, which ravaged the city of Ahmedabad and left thousands of women homeless, widowed, and without an income. What started out as an effort to rebuild and move forward became a model for restoring peaceful relations between Hindus and Muslims while helping women build skills that make them employable.
Shantipath now operates nine Centres within the city of Ahmedabad and our team had the opportunity to visit five during our trip. During these visits we sat in on classes and interviewed the women in charge of the centers, teachers, young women who were training at the centers, children who were attending Knowledge Center classes there, as well as their parents and caregivers. Everyone welcomed us with open arms and opened up about their experiences despite the fact that we were complete strangers. The stories of their lives and what the Shantipath Centres have helped them accomplish were both humbling and inspirational. We spoke with a Muslim Center-In-Charge who broke deeply engrained norms and roles within her religion in taking the position and is now the leader of her family unit, as well as Hindu women who now have a new sense of identity and worth because they are able to make money and contribute to family income.
Among our deliverables is a formal structure and plan for a business hub pilot program for two of the Centres that will link women who receive training from Shantipath Centres to jobs. This happens currently in a very informal fashion, with the Centere leads going out and networking with local employers on behalf of the girls in their Centres. Our student team will provide the details of how to start, structure, scale, and sell this program throughout the Shantipath network. We are also providing the Centres with an impact report of what they have achieved so far, from our perspective, as well as a marketing brochure for future visitors.