“Most of the girls came from broken families. They didn’t have a good role model to follow or anyone to guide them. There was a lot of pent up anger and frustration within them. It was really sad knowing what kind of lives they had led ,” he said.Chandra Mohan used the camps to coach the girls on various aspects of character building, instill positive values and motivate them to rise beyond their circumstances to dream big and work towards it. “My talks are not just about academic success alone; I emphasise the importance of good behaviour and the positive values that one must hold close, such as gratitude and being responsible,” he said. He explains that the girls’ family background and surroundings play an important part in shaping their thoughts and behaviour. “Having a drunkard father, being abandoned by a parent or having disinterested teachers, plus the need to belong to their peer group are among the factors that could cause frustration in a child and make them react negatively towards his or her surroundings. I always tell them that no matter how bad your background seems, you can always rise above the mud and bloom like a lotus flower. Don’t look outside to see how badly a person or your current situation is treating you; seek to find how you can improve and better your situation against all odds,” he said. Chandra Mohan who had been a Maharani camp trainer from 2010 to 2013, says the camps are useful to both parents and the participants.
“I have two daughters and I understand there are certain things that parents tend to shy away from talking about. At the Maharani camps, there is a module where the girls are taught about important sensitive subjects; personal hygiene, menstruation and proper inner wear – topics that are not openly discussed in many families,” he said.He recalls feeling a sense of satisfaction when parents reached out and gave him feedback on their daughters’ transformed behaviour. “I have had parents coming up and thanking me for returning their child to them. They said their rebellious and angry child is now self-motivated and has a greater sense of self-esteem,” he said. He said when dealing with girls from the outskirts and rural areas where some can’t even form a simple sentence correctly, it is highly essential that a trainer speaks the same language as the audience to get the message across. “The most important thing is to reach out to the girls, using the right method and meeting them at their level when addressing them. That’s what makes the coaching effective,” he said. “From many personal testimonials, I am glad that I had the opportunity to play a role in the transformation of so many young girls through the Maharani programme. I saw tremendous improvement in them. Now the girls know that there is a future for them and there are various ways to achieve their goals,” he said. He said the Maharani Learning Lab which was set up in 2015 in Sungai Siput, Perak complements the camps, as it exposes the girls to various skills and knowledge which are essential to making the right choices in life.