Bembala : being there for a survivor

Bembala Center at Vydehi Hospital

When we offered the first learning event on why women and child survivors of violence need a safe space to reach out for support, we faced a room filled with strangers. Little did we imagine the heartwarming response and the coming together of so many of these strangers as volunteers that make Bembala what it is today. They came from across Whitefield and beyond, from different backgrounds and professions, varying ages, religions and cultures. They came with a curiosity, a deep eagerness to help offering themselves, their knowledge and skills but also a lot of humility to learn and unlearn.

Our demands were tough; get selected, attend all the training, commit to regular duty, travel across Bangalore to check out referral agencies, attend an all weekend meeting. Can you write? translate? design? collect things and support a training event?
They still came in growing numbers.

And what is the glue that keeps us going? The reasons haven’t changed since Befriending was discovered decades ago. The deep satisfaction of being able to support a survivor who found the courage to reach out to us. The guided space to reflect on yourself and discover your own biases and strengths. The powerful experience of empathy and being an intimate part of a broken person discover their strength or walk a path they never thought they could.

This is Bembala. A month old and rearing to go! Come join us to celebrate being there for the women who need us and for each other.

Neighborhood Survivor Story:
I sat cringing on the floor watching my 18 month playing, trying not to yell with the pain each time the slipper hit my head….my neck….my arm, pretending this was normal.

I realised that day that I did not want my daughter growing up thinking this was acceptable. Was I not worth more? I walked out.

Today I’m an entrepreneur, a single mother, a happy woman. I laugh, I feel safe, I travel, I hang out with friends. I am worth more.

It wasn’t easy. Each day has its trials. I wonder how I will grow old alone or how I will pay the next round of fees. But I survive.

I sit, relaxed watching my daughter doing her homework; growing up knowing she is worth the world and nothing less. This is my success!

Community Outreach:

Survivors, stories, camaraderie – Bol Sakhi.

At the heart of Bol Sakhi are women sharing their stories like friends creating support and giving strength.
Centred around the befriender concept at our centre in Vydehi hospital, Bol Sakhi encourages women to break the silence in a non-judgmental space that holds the power to inspire thought-provoking dialogue, create awareness and build mutual trust by sharing their stories.
Bol Sakhi literally translated means ‘Speak Friend’ and that is exactly what we are going to do. Creating a society that has zero tolerance towards violence, by uniting women’s strength and encouraging those facing violence to seek support; find empowerment; and build safe lives for themselves.

Center Update:
The Bembala Center at Vydehi opened its doors on the 30th of Jan. This in itself has been possible because of the kindness and good will of so many individuals and organizations. The center has a center manager and two befrienders available during working hours. The team has reached out to the Doctors, PGs and nurses in the different departments of Vydehi, to inform them about our presence in the campus. The survivors have started walking-in and our befrienders are meeting them with empathy and compassion. There is a sense of satisfaction when the survivors leave the center with better clarity and a feeling of empowerment. It has also been gratifying to get referrals from NGOs and from within the campus.

Bembala Center, Vydehi Hospital

Training:1st – 2nd March: Active Listening sessions being held for Head Constables and Assistant Sub-inspectors at Whitefield Police Station.

Police Training at Whitefield Police Station