She was only 18 when she survived a rape attempt. For all the trauma she had to go through post that experience, it taught Usha Vishwakarma an important experience – women would have to help themselves, rather than expecting help from other sections of the society. This is what led to the creation of the Red Brigade which aims to address the issue of sexual violence in the country.
She was about her NGO, “I got so traumatized by that incident and remained in the state of shock for complete 1 year. I wasn’t able to understand as what to do and how to overcome that situation.
While facing this deep humiliation, I felt that there is no point of education if I cannot remain secure. And from there, the root of this organization started by the medium of protest, awareness campaign.
We, at Red Brigade, promote self defense rally, nukkad natak, etc. We started making all the possible efforts in all direction from many years, but there was no name to this initiative “Red Brigade”. Then a member of this group thought that if we follow a certain dress code, then it will give a huge impact and one would be able to associate with it. So we came up with two colors - Red and Black.”
The colour of their choice was actually the reason behind their group being named the “Red Brigade”. What started as a small initiative has now grown into a major group. “We have started with 15 members in our team at that time and now the number has grown to 50 in Lucknow area to 8500 members pan India,” she told us.
She started her public service by teaching kids. Since her very first day, she faced hurdles of many kinds.As if she is not going out for some work for her independence, but is rather seeking adultery. No family support - no social support – no administrative support. As per her saying – that the social structure is very brutal and harsh w.r.t. girls and I have faced many problems, but YES I have never gave up!”
Although everyone appreciated the initiatives of Red Brigade, it is never easy to convince people to help them in their work. When asked about how she compels people, she told us, “I quote the example of history as well where the inspiring story quotes are only of male Akbar, Birbal and Humayun. No one specifically quotes any incident which actually reflects the contribution of females for the society and for the independence. So we actually develop the real life stories from history only, where we actually took real life incidence, which reflects the contribution of women toward society. When we give self defense training to thousand of girls, we motivate them, by these real life examples only. So we always try to give this message only as females are always stronger and motivate them as how they can save their entity and can compete with man at every point of time.”
Any venture, be it social or entrepreneurial, needs support from the family members of the founders. She shares the feelings of her family about Red Brigade,
“Being a girl, for any initiative, one gets difficulties from everywhere. So initially I didn’t get any support from family, administration, society. But once the things turn around in our favour, then family and social prospective also change.”
The years of hard work put in, Usha and her team seems to have made an impact on the ground and the things are starting to change for the better. She reveals, “Mindset and outlook of people has changed. Those who didn’t want to talk to us initially now feel privileged to discuss things with us.
Earlier when some incident such as eve teasing happened with any girl, no one wanted to raise their voice against this evil traits, but now the scenario is changed as the people who earlier remained spectator are now raising voice against these crimes.”
Not the one to sit on her laurels, she is working hard to expand her team. She lets us in on their expansion plan. “Right now we are targeting to make up to 100 teams. We want to make a team of 100 girl trainers, who can give self defense training to others. So they can be independent, fight for these rights and live a peaceful life on their own foot.”
We were curious to know if she got any support from the government in her noble venture. To our surprise, she told us, “We don’t think they are even capable of supporting us, as they are only engaged in corrupt level of politics. We only get support from local contacts, school, college, companies under the CSR activity.”
We wanted her to share some thoughts about Brainbuxa. She obliged us by saying, “I believe that one should not lose the basic humanity and character while attaining education. These values need to be inculcated in every individual with the help of education. So I believe you are also taking steps in this direction and wish you good luck regarding the same.”
On behalf of everyone at Brainbuxa, we wish Ms. Usha Vishwakarma and the Red Brigade all the best for all their future endeavours.
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