27th July, Another significant day for Azad Foundation as it launched the Ram Mohan Scholarship to support resource poor *single women who are the principle bread winners in their families. Azad’s data has indicated that due to the pressure of being the sole provider in their families, interested single women either find it difficult to join the Women on Wheels training programme or they are walking out midway because of the pressure to earn. The enrolment of single/ divorced /separated women has not only reduced over the years, (from 15% in 16- 17, it has dropped by 5% and stands at 10 % in 17 -18) but one third of the single women are also walking out of the system due to financial constraints. The scholarship is intended as an enabler to address part of the financial challenges faced by resource poor single women.The scholarship includes a monthly stipend of 5000 INR to support basic cost of living for the trainee and their travel expenses to the training centre.
The scholarship named after Late Ram Mohan who helped conceptualize and designed the Women on Wheels (WoW) Programme’s foundational learner’s module.He took it upon himself to conduct the learner’s module for the women trainees enrolled in the programs’ initial 3 batches following which he Handed over to Shrinivas Rao, Azad’s current COO to take the endeavor forward.
The day was marked by family & friends who gathered at the India International Centre, New Delhi to launch of the Ram Mohan Scholarship.Ram in his span of working with the Azad team had been a teacher and a mentor to a substantial number of trainees, a considerable number of whom today are empowered professional drivers. Ram’s friends and family and two trainees, Khushi and Chandni who were trained by Ram shared some memorable moments. Chandni, currently drives a BMW for Hotel Leela Palace, gives credit to Ram and his teachings for helping her become who she is today. Khushi also shared that it has been 10 years in Azad for her and that she has not seen Gandhiji but she has seen Ram Sir!!
Ram’s wife, Geetha Ram Mohan, a talented classical singer who has also been actively engaged with social issues for a long time, recited a self-composed poetry in loving memory of her partner and their beautiful journey together.
Meenu, the Executive Director of Azad Foundation shared that ‘When we thought of this scholarship, there was no one more inspiring than Ram himself. Hence, we wanted to introduce the scholarship on his name. Since its inception in 2008, Azad has helped more than 1500 women to get their Permanent license out of which 650+ women are working in the transportation industry across India. This year 25 women will be given the Ram Mohan scholarship. Besides this, a mentorship program has been planned for each of these women.’’
Seven women trainees were shortlisted by the Delhi Azad Centres and were handed over the scholarship certificate and stipend by the Azad’s Board members, Ram’s Family and friends.
One of the scholarship holders shared that, ‘I stay very far away from the training centre and I was not able to commute daily. My parents asked me to stop going for the training and look for a job. My parents were told about the scholarship and later, agreed to send me for this training as the scholarship amount will help our family meet our daily needs.’
Following Meenu’s speech, Ram’s family was presented with a token of appreciation. Later the Songster group, which had started the program with a revolutionary song, ended with two melodious numbers-
“Tu Zinda Hai” and “Mandir Masjid”. The day ended with a vote of thanks by Anita Mathur, Azad’s Program Director, Jaipur.
*Note: single here subsumes the categories of unmarried / divorced /separated women and widowed women.