Our team


Sheela, vanangana’s  first team member, will always be a strong bricks in the foundation of the orgnisation. Born in Gonu in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand, Sheela lived there through a happy childhood, till she completed her graduation.

Her struggles began after an early marriage, and an inability to withstand both physical and mental torture by her in-laws. She decided to take her three daughters and leave. A friend told her about Vanangana’s need for a team member, and she come to karwi, chitrakoot, to make her home. Sheela travelled across Chitrakoot’s patha area – hills , barren land and jungle –to mobiles non-literate Dalit and tribal women, sharing her own experiences of suffering injustice and gaining strength in new relationship. She was a feminist by birth: whether in her personal life or in her work, her feminist perspective was always visible.

Sheela was one of the pillars of Vanangana’s foundation. We remember her speaking , in soft, sweet voice that people listened to so intently. We learnt so much from her – what it meant to work hard, with all your heart. We remember how she used to ask, when she was staying the night in a village, whether the handpump worked. And this wasn’t just about bathing but linked to Vanangana’s work with the women handpump mechanics ! She never vented out her personal troubles on anyone, but struggled through them on her own. We cannot think of her leaving us.

Sheela’s skills and relationship with words enabled her to capture vanangana’s evolving work through her writing, and documentation. Sheela isn’t with us today, but we will feel her presence always. Like a part of our foundation, she will be invisible but continue to give us strength.


Shabina a graduate from Banda, came into contact with Vanangana when she was dealing with her own case of violence, and drew much strength from beginning to work here as a case-worker in 2005. Her understanding of Vanangana’s work and the organization was sharp and quick , and she entered a leadership position relatively soon. She has had a large role in concretizing and expending Vanangana’s Human Right Unit, especially the work on violence against women. She supported, mentored and played a transition role with the Dalit Mahila Samiti.  She is now an important resource that is taking the organization into new phase of work. Shabina is a single motherwith a son.


Avdhesh is a graduate with 20 years of experience from Manikpur Block of Chitrakoot District . She worked with Mahila Samakhya (MS) from 1992 as a sahyogini, and was involved with the training of women hand-pump –mechanics and masons. After Vanangana’s registration, she also worked with the catering unit and looked after the financial affairs of the organization. She has worked in both the Human Rights and Sangathan Unit. From 2011 she has been part of the organization’s leadership team. Avdesh is a single mother with two sons.


Maheshwari has a graduate degree from Etawah, where her parents’ home is. She left a difficult marriage and challenging home environment to work with Mahila Samakhya in 1993, as a warden of the Mahila Shikshan Kendra in Banda. Over time, working in Banda she developed strong relation at the community level, and a sensitive and nuanced understanding of violence against women, which contributed greatly to the establishment of Vanangana’s Human Right Unit. She has also an interest in and commitment to organizational issues, and has been part of a team that led the organization from 2008 to 2011. Maheshwari is now based in Lucknow, but continue to be involved in Vanangana’s work.


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