Do you remember the rage in your heart that was burning all red and hot few days ago when the heartbreaking news of 44 CRPF Personnel’s having been martyred in Pulwama in a suicidal blast surfaced? Well, this is certainly not the one and only accident in past few years but with time, we have forgotten them. But there are people left behind who don’t need reminders from Bollywood to remember them and their sacrifice- their families, parents, siblings, children and also, their wives.

The footage of wife of one of our brave hearts who lost his life while safeguarding us, biding him one last farewell had made rounds on the internet and left every eye numb. Waking up to your most loved one arriving in a box wrapped with the Tricolour brings along an ocean of tears and also, a mountain of pride- with the weight of which these war widows deal all their lives.

Entire country stands with their bereaved families- from Government to citizens, from celebrities to even, beggars. Financial assistance helps but that’s not all. There are several other dimensions to the life of their widows. There are sorrows, loss, emptiness and struggles.

Having dealt with the worst, they roll their sleeves up and turn heads back to life with a whole new enthusiasm because they’re no less warriors themselves. Like we’d shared a story earlier as well 

‘Vasantharatna Foundation for Arts'(VRFA) is an organization founded by a woman, run by women and for women who share the same fate, who play the same characters in different stories. The Karnataka based foundation extends a healing hand to war widows and leaves each lady feeling empowered to pursue the life of her dreams. The Indian Feed, on the occasion of International Women’s Day reached out to VRFA to find out more, so that this very face of WOMANHOOD can also be celebrated by its fellow readers!

1) When did Vasantharatna Foundation for Arts come into existence first? Briefly describe the story of its birth.

Subhashini Vasanth instituted the Vasantharatna Foundation for Arts (VRFA) in 2007 in the memory of her late husband, Col Vasanth V, Ashoka Chakra. She started this as a platform for women with a shared history to create a community and help each other to grow beyond their common grief.

2) What difficulties do war widows face that motivated the founders to begin an NGO for them and help them out?

Most of our war widows are from rural areas in Karnataka with young children. They struggle to cope with their day to day life due to social ostracization.
Our NGO helps by empowering them to build their self-confidence and self-esteem. To quote Gandhiji they should “Be the change they want to see”.

3) So what forms of art are practised in Vasantharatna Foundation for Arts?

No form of art is practised in Vasantharatna Foundation of Arts (VRFA). The Arts in the name of our NGO is significant because our signature program “Salute to Heroes” (conducted periodically) is an artistic tribute to the soldiers and martyrs.

4) How many women are currently associated with you?

70+ women in Karnataka

5) What do you do for these women? (I’ve read about ‘gift a birthday’ scheme, educating their children and also counselling them on your website. It’ll be really nice if you talk a little about that and also other ventures, if any)

Our work is three-fold:

We work with the families of martyrs to enrich their lives and to empower them to build a better future for themselves.

We work towards changing social perceptions about wives of martyrs, so that they find their self-worth, and reach a stage where they can help others.

We attempt to bridge the gap between Government policies and the people in need of those policies, and enable them to claim their rights with dignity.

Our Programs
Women Empowerment Program – conducted with the objective of empowering women to build their self-confidence and self-esteem. Women empowered =70+
Child Development Program – Created to help children learn life skills and develop their personality through age – appropriate workshops conducted at regular intervals. Children and youth supported = 45 +.
Youth Empowerment Program – is conducted for young people with the objective of empowering them to take charge of their lives through transformation in their beliefs, values and attitudes 55 +.
Memorial Award – Aims to keep the memory of the martyrs alive by instituting an award in their alma mater. Memorial Awards instituted = 24 educational institutes.
“Gift a birthday” – a small token to show our families that we care for them on their special day – Birthdays celebrated annually =170+
Salute to Heroes – our signature artistic tribute program for our soldiers and martyrs.

6) The awards and recognitions to ‘Vasantharatna Foundation for Arts’, if any?

In 2016 Subhashini was awarded the Neerja Bhanot Award in recognition for her work in this field.

In 2018, Subhashini was conferred “The Eshwaramma Puraskar Award” in recognition of her work by Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations, Karnataka.

If you want to find out more about VRFA, you may click here -https://www.vasantharatna.org.

Not diamonds, but a woman is another woman’s best friend and when women come together, their lives certainly becomes easier, happier and better. We salute every VRFA and everyone associated for the spirit they have to share with us. Much power to them!

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