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“Urgent help needed. Savitri cannot come to work today because her husband will find her and beat her. She is staying at her sister’s employer’s house but she can’t be there for long. Please can you help? She has two small children.”

Whitefield Rising was started by a citizens' group in Whitefield Bangalore, that came together to better the life of the community. The group thought that the problems they saw and perceived were the same problems for all. Hence, they focused on traffic, garbage, water, tree planting, and so on.  However, there were other kinds of appeals too. Occasionally, a woman and/or child needed help. As a community, they responded to each of these appeals and did their best to help but it was apparent that they were not equipped to solve the underlying problem. They could provide temporary shelter, new employment opportunities, and hostel facilities for the children but the “victim” often went back to her old situation, and the problems would resume. 


The Journey: It took discussions with people who had worked in this space to understand the depth of the issue and the methods that have evolved over time to best address victims of domestic abuse. The biggest learning for many was thinking about these women and children as “survivors” and not as victims, given their courage to reach out for help. 


The universe conspired to bring the right people together and when the intent is sincere, magic happens. Volunteers came forward doing much more than volunteering. Vydehi Hospital in Whitefield, provided a room to use as a Center for free. A benefactor paid the salary for a single staff member. A friend donated furniture. Mentors and Trainers gave their training for free. Counselors signed up to give their time for free. Thus was born Bembala on 30th January, 2019. Our sincere thanks to the first volunteers who saw the need, brought the right people together, and made this happen.

Before launching the Bembala Center, we spent months looking for the right partners such as shelter homes, lawyers and counsellors, who were experienced, accessible from Whitefield, and when needed, willing to offer their services pro-bono.


Our Philosophy: Bembala derives its working philosophy from the concept of “befriending”, originally introduced by a vicar, Chad Varah, in 1953. He founded an organization called the ‘Samaritans’ in the UK. Befrienders are typically people from any background, capable of providing emotional support to people in difficult situations, with empathy and a ‘listening ear’.

“Bembala” also means support in Kannada, and our befrienders go through extensive training to become the vanguards of Bembala’s work... We are there to support the victims and to make them survivors. That means we allow them the space to come to terms with their situation and empower them with the strength to choose from their available choices. It was  humbling to see 92 people walk into the center in our first year alone, when not much time was spent on awareness building about the existence of our Center.

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