Pune Gets 500+ Women Bouncers From Among Abused & Helpless Women, Thanks To This Gritty Former Actor

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Bhagyashree is a trained woman bouncer from Ranragini  Academy. She came young into this profession, persuaded by her mother, a former domestic help and feisty woman bouncer now. It might seem quite surreal that women from the marginalised section of the society are breaking into a male bastion and often outdoing their male counterparts in a domain dominated by men all over the world.

Bhagyashree and her mother are not the only ones, there is Shweta and there are 537 more women in Pune who have been trained to be bouncers and are garnering applaud from around the globe. “The whole credit goes to Madam,” reiterates Shweta and Bhagyashree, referring to their guardian angel – Deepa Parab. This former actor from Pune runs Ranragini where she trains women from a lesser privileged background to become woman bouncers.

No one has ever become poor by giving- Anne Frank

Shweta became a bouncer after her husband’s accident

“I am training here for the past 7-8 months to become a bouncer. I have always been just a housewife, never considered a career of my own. As luck would have it, my husband met with an accident and failed to continue working. Desperate for some work, any work, I finally ended up with Madam through my friend Sangeeta, another bouncer. Now, as you can see, I am a strong, happy and proud woman,” shares Shweta.

Like Shweta, the women at Ranragini all have compelling life stories of struggle, abuse, insult and a final triumph.

How Deepa Parab started Ranragini Academy

 India was hardly acquainted with a woman bouncer even a few years ago. Today, they can be found in almost every major city of the country, thanks to Deepa who started it all.

“I wanted to join the Maharashtra Police and was training myself for the same. However, for certain personal setbacks, it did not happen in time. Meanwhile, I used to work as a makeup artist in the film industry, which also landed me a few small roles in Marathi films. During my time in the industry, I used to spot leading actors and actresses being accompanied by these heavily-built, strong men in black uniforms. I came to know that they are the ‘bodyguards’. I was intrigued and wanted to join them. Since I already underwent police training, I soon started working as a female bouncer along with very few other ladies,” recalls Deepa.

When Deepa herself started out as a female bouncer, everybody would consider a woman bouncer as incompetent, if not an altogether impossible entity. Naturally, the work they would receive in the initial days would be inherently trivial – assisting drunk women outside pub washrooms, for instance. Deepa would request authorities to offer more significant work to her, knowing well how she and her counterparts can excel at any job assigned to them. However, the event organisers would brush aside her repeated appeals terming women bouncers as ‘incapable’.

Ranragini Women Bouncers
Deepa Parab (centre)

That’s when Deepa decided to move back from Mumbai to her hometown Pune and start her own team of women bouncers. She started Ranragini Academy around three years ago. At first, very few women stepped in.

The breakthrough came during the famous Ganesha Chaturthi in Pune, where 12 women trained by Deepa earned accolades for efficiently handling a maddening crowd and ensuring the safety of the women and the elderly. “They ensured each and every senior devotee can smoothly have the ‘Darshan’ of the deity. Never before has anyone seen such systematic management at Ganesh festival. Soon, we were showered with praise and flooded with calls from women willing to join Ranragini Academy,” Deepa shares.

How the women are trained at Ranragini

Deepa’s husband, Deepak Ramchandra Parab, is a cricket coach who assists Deepa in running the academy. “We have arranged for a comprehensive one-year training programme for each of the woman candidates who are then delegated to festivals, concerts or any other large event, all across Maharashtra. We have a fitness trainer, yoga enthusiast as well as a martial arts coach, aside from me and my husband, and together we provide different types of training to the women – ranging from body-building to self-defence,” she shares.
“All our personal savings go into the academy and for the women. I still live in a rented house,” Deepa reveals.

Ranragini Women Bouncers
A poster of Ranragini Academy

Most of the women at Ranragini are middle-aged, with no prior experience in this field. Many of them were housewives, overlooked and ill-treated often by their alcoholic husbands. Some used to work maids, with no dignified identity to their names. Some are widows and single mothers who had nowhere to go. Deepa decided to take up these helpless women under her onus and turn them into spirited fighters. She deliberately refrained from recruiting younger women in their 20s as she believes they should continue their education and exercise their potential in white-collared jobs.

“Madam is always there for us”

“My ladies have become exceedingly expert in managing events. Today, they can give a tough competition to the male bouncers. Also, women bouncers are preferred these days since women and children feel safer with them,” a proud Deepa shares.

Her students are all praises for their beloved Madam. “Madam is always there for us. Any little glitch we face at any event, she will sort it out in an instant,” Shweta and Bhagyashree resonate together, their voices brimming with admiration for Deepa.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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