About Us


“When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life.”

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Kochi Kendra conceptualised Mahila Vibhag in the year 1984 and formally inaugurated it on 17th August 1984 with Dr Shanta Madhavan as the President, Adv. T.D. Rajalakshmi as the Secretary and Hon Justice Janaki Amma as the Patron in the presence of Smt. Ambady Karthiyayini Amma and Smt. Parvathy Ayyappan.

The purpose and goal was to make a positive difference in the lives of the residents of an underdeveloped slum. Andhakaran Colony, situated in the midst of Cochin city, yet socially excluded from the benefits of urbanisation was selected.

The first project was a feeding centre for kids below five years called “Samraksha”. This was followed by the opening of a crèche and Anganwadi by employing the women of this slum. Smt. Leela was the first teacher. The aim was to provide good and nutritious food, care and early education to children. Pregnant and lactating mothers were also given special food.

The most important component that needed attention from the beginning was health care as the kids and adults were highly affected by scabies, a contagious skin disease. Through continuous follow-up and treatment, scabies was eradicated and the general health and hygiene was improved. Immunisation of kids was started with the help of General Hospital, Ernakulam.

Appreciating the work done by Mahila Vibhag, the then GCDA Chairman Sri. Paul P Mani allotted 20 cents of land on lease for 30 years. Here a building was constructed with the help of FACT, Cochin Refinery and Hindustan Organic Chemicals. The foundation stone was laid in April 1985 by Honourable Minister Kamalam and was inaugurated in September 1985.

A free clinic was started with the help of J.J.H.O Mumbai (Janatha Janardhanan Health Organisation), which was a great help for the colony. Special camps were conducted to detect T.B, diabetes, hypertension and cataract with follow up. Also awareness classes are held on various illnesses, importance of breast feeding, early detection of cancer and other diseases.

The second health unit was started in Kakkanad where no medical facilities was available. With the support of Shri. D.P. Mandeliaji of J.J.H.O (Janatha Janardhanan Health Organisation) the unit called Mathru Sisu Kalyan Kendra was started in 1996 specially for giving medical aid to the women and children in the backward area of Kakkanad. The unit was established in the Adarsha school campus with the magnificient grant donated by Shri. Mandeliaji of Rs.1.5 Lakh/year apart from initial expenses for starting the unit. A well equipped laboratory was also attached to the unit. Hon Minister C Subramanian inaugurated the unit and later Sri.Mandeliaji also visited.

In 1996 Mahila Vibhag was selected as the NGO for the Urban Poverty Alleviation Scheme and later the Nodal agency for ward 38 with 5 colonies and thousand families.

In 1996 under the Nehru Rozgar Yojana, 60 girls were taught home nursing, when home nursing was in the beginning stages. 75 girls were taught tailoring, hand and machine embroidery, and later an embroidery unit was started. As part of vocational training the girls were taught tailoring, decorative candle making, Jewellery making and making ayurvedic medicines.

Cooking classes, Beautician course, English speaking classes and paper bag making classes were also started.

Free computer training centre was started in 2004 with the help of Rotary club of Cochin.

In 2008, appreciating the work of Mahila Vibhag, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai allotted Rs.5 lakhs for further activities.

Bhooshitha, the tailoring unit with 11 staff stitches uniforms for students from LKG to Std XII. Every year more than 8000 uniforms are stitched here.

A notebook manufacturing unit with 10 staff makes the necessary notebooks for all the seven schools of our Kendra.

Mahila Vibhag runs a store in each of the 7 schools under Kochi Kendra where stationery like notebooks, pencils, pens etc are available to students during school time.

As part of cultural activities, Children’s Day, Navarathri, Independence Day and Onam, Women’s Day and Senior Citizen Day etc. are celebrated. Library facility, sports and games and outings are conducted for the welfare of the staff.

Elder Mahila Wellness programme (Alambaheenarkku Ashadeepam) and the Palliative care unit are the feathers in our cap.

As part of Silver Jubilee celebration, flagship project “Alambaheenarkku Ashadeepam” was rolled out in 2009. The action plan was to reach out to elderly women with financial difficulties. An elderly women’s forum with 20 ladies was formed. The first objective was to make them economically self-reliant for their personal needs with monthly pension of Rs.500/-. The second objective was their emotional wellbeing. Monthly get together and outings are organised. The most enjoyable being a trip on the metro and a visit to a naval ship which was their first experience.

Since 2015 we are associated with the Palliative care unit of Government Hospital, Ernakulam. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has donated a van and provided the service of a nursing staff. Our member Sreedevi Rajeev and a staff of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan take turns to accompany the team. The experience has given them a new perspective of life.

In the last 35 years, a lot of changes and improvements have taken place, both in the colony and among the residents. Many of the women of the colony have been empowered to do jobs. Some of them are highly educated. There are no more emaciated children and Scabies has been eradicated

The narrow roads have been widened under the UPAID scheme of Cochin Corporation. The small hutments have been replaced by pakka building and sanitary conditions have improved.

Bhavan’s Mahila Vibhag has succeeded in their mission to a great extent by providing social and economic empowerment to women in the area.

The original Andharakaran Colony, the slum of darkness, has now been transformed into the upbeat Udaya Colony in Gandhi Nagar.

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