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  • Writer's pictureThe Feminist Times

Walk the Talk with The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School

Updated: May 3, 2021

"If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation."

This saying goes perfectly well with Citta, a New York State registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. They focus on methods that help build and support development in some of the most economically challenged, geographically remote and/or marginalized communities in the world.

Citta has commendably developed a holistic and adaptable method we refer to as the HEED model (Health, Education and Economic Development). They connect with communities, taking into account weak healthcare and education systems healthcare and educational opportunities as well as weak or nonexistent economic development that can lead a community into a never-ending downward spiral.

Citta works to remedy the specific needs of a community to produce an environment of equanimity and stability and one that provides opportunities and a sense of initiative and pride in its inhabitants. Citta currently operates two major hospitals, three school locations and multiple economic development and health initiatives across India and Nepal.

In rural Jaisalmer, girls face India’s most extreme social, economic and geographic

disadvantages to receiving an education. Education provides girls access to pursue

economic freedom and autonomy. The value of education is not the norm in this

region, where female infanticide and child marriage remain prominent.

The GYAAN Center aims to become a strong foundation where girls and women gain

the tools to thrive in an environment that protects and celebrates the vibrant local and

state culture of Rajasthan. Education is the key element for women’s welfare and

achieving equality and prosperity in their families and in Indian society.

Over ten years, CITTA assembled an international effort to build the GYAAN center with the goal to fill an educational need at a level that inspires the local villages and draws international attention to the urgent need of women’s empowerment in this region.

The school is one component of the GYAAN Center project which combines an educational institution with a robust economic development portion for women in the area. The activities of the GYAAN center will act with a mission to support education initiatives worldwide. By celebrating women’s education and the ability to overcome historical norms, we hope to thwart harmful practices and empower girls through celebration and participation in their own cultural heritage.

The Jaisalmer Girls School will provide young girls with an education and give women in

the region vocational skills and an opportunity for economic independence. Adult

education classes will be provided as well. Traditions in modern society such as female

infanticide, child marriage and the dowry system, perpetuate poverty and stifle

women’s economic growth, development and autonomy.

The artistry of rural Rajasthan and celebration of cultural traditions will be on full display

in a building to be known as “Central Hall”. A museum space is planned to showcase

the fine art of embroidery and weaving native to the region and used to this day by

communities to barter for essential goods. The space will welcome prominent female

artists and serve as a global platform to host events for empowering women in

Jaisalmer and beyond.

The three building structure, designed to symbolize female strength as well as provide

space for 400 students, was designed by New York based Architect, Diana Kellogg.

Construction was led by Jiasalmer stone mason and heritage structure expert, Kareem

Khan using local building materials. The vision of the GYAAN center is ambitious and has gained the attention of education activists who desire to contribute their gifts to the project. World famous designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee offered to design the school uniforms. He is famous for reimaging beloved techniques and styles of the past to design for a modern, moving world. Saybyasachi matched CITTA’s vision of respecting the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan while challenging the social norms that keep women oppressed today. The result is a deep cerulean and burgundy Ajrakh block printed uniform - with a purpose of instilling daily pride and personal value in each girl.

The location of the GYAAN Center is accessible to the lively tourist industry of Rajasthan,

which provides a special opportunity for the GYAAN Center to act as an international

destination and hub for celebrating and promoting girl’s education globally. In five

years, Citta expects revenue and exposure gained by the GYAAN center tourism to

cover the associated costs of running Citta’s education programs. In the meantime,

student sponsorship is essential.

Wondering how to help?

A Monthly student sponsorship of $20 allows Citta to operate this impactful program

until the program can generate its own revenue. All of the girls who will attend the

GYAAN Center come from a home of need and will attend school free of charge.

Supporting a student for $20 every month provides her with a year of

education, school supplies, transportation to school, daily lunch and a

uniform. Many of these children will attend school for the first time -

receiving an opportunity they would not have otherwise. Make a world of

impact by sponsoring a student today.

Sponsors receive digital and mailed updates from the school as well as

artwork, a photo of a student ambassador to cheer on and more! Sign up

and change a life in just two minutes here :

After speaking with Michael- Executive Director at Citta, our Founder- Kuhu, realized that it really doesn't take much to be able to initiate change. You can help shape someone's life by just giving them the right tools to do so and letting them know they matter. And that is what we'll do, with all of you. Stay tuned to know how!

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