Martial Vout’s comments on his Indian journey
To access the videos illustrating this journey, please refer to the French page. All videos are recorded in French.
For more information about this trip, please visit the page of Martial Vout’s website: Trip Mumbai-Dehli 2019.
This year 2019, I first spent a month in Mumbai, in October, where I met Venkatesh Balan, founder of the NGO USDF (United Social Development Foundation) and Manish Gray. Both are the main instructors AMVAF cooperates with. Since my last visit in 2017, the programs have continued thanks to their motivation for the cause. We are particularly active in the slums of Dharavi in central Mumbai and Malad in the north.
However, it is difficult to retain the instructors we trained. The poorest women have the least freedom of movement. Despite the money they receive for the courses they teach, they participate in the program on average for about a year. In any case, the extensive training these instructors have received remains a lifelong experience. AMVAF is continually training new instructors.
1600 women in 2017, 1900 in 2018, 1750 in 2019 have taken a course. Schools, companies, associations or NGOs present in poor neighborhoods… Venkatesh and Manish travel throughout the city to meet leaders willing to organize our workshops.
The Agragami NGO, our main partner in Delhi, has included female self-defense techniques to its programs since 2014. In 2019, more than 3’300 schoolgirls and adult women were able to participate in workshops in Noida, Bodhgaya and Patna. Female and also male staff members of this organization, in addition to ten other NGOs Agragami teams up within the « Uday » program in Noida (Delhi), have also attended our classes. Some graduates have started to give training lessons in turn. The staff members of these NGOs are on the front line working with the poorest communities most exposed to violence. (http://www.agragami.org.in)
Felicia Schumacher, President of AMVAF, joined me at the beginning of December 2019 to attend courses, take the pulse of the city and meet with Agragami members to ensure that our collaboration can be extended to 2020 and 2021.
This year, 7 girls from a college in Noida volunteered for a training course lasting more than 20 days. Nandani, Shagun, Priya, Rekha, Divya, Angeli and Basanti, aged 15 to 17, will train their classmates in their college of more than 1’800 students all year round. The goal is also that the majority of them will join our instructors in workshops elsewhere in the city to promote emancipation and make contacts with women of higher social classes.
The same training program for female students teaching at their college will be conducted in Bodhgaya, Bihar State. There in 2020, Agragami and AMVAF will train a total of 6’000 female students aged 13 to 18 at 4 colleges in the city. In addition, a group of about 20 female student volunteers will be trained as instructors.
The self-defense head in Agragami is Ajendra Sirohi. In addition to his skills as instructor of the method, he excels in approaching school leaders, NGOs, companies, associations, etc. to schedule workshops and assist women in learning how to better assert themselves, resist, speak up, challenge and… in case of physical danger… fight back.
Among the Agragami staff, Sahin and Vanshika have been independent instructors for several years. Below is a selection of photos taken during my two months in Delhi, in November and December. I’m especially looking forward to soon putting videos online. In the meantime, you can visit my ‘Martial Vout’ website as well as the AMVAF website, the FB AMVAF FaceBook page and its Youtube channel.