13. India: A Girl’s Hostel & Women’s Community Center in Nagpur
The Bodhicitta Foundation is a socially engaged charity established in 2001 by the Australian Buddhist nun, Ayya Yeshe, to help Dalits (scheduled classes) and slum dwellers in the state of Maharashtra. With funding from BGR, Bodhicitta has established a girls’ hostel for thirty girls aged 16–22, who are being trained as social and health workers or to qualify in a vocation. The hostel helps them escape poverty, trafficking, and the sex industry. The girls, chosen because of their dedication to their studies, come from the poorest regions in India: 10 from Bihar, 10 from rural Maharashtra, and 10 from urban Nagpur slums.
The girls are now in their third year of training, after which they will return to their villages with the skills to empower other young girls. In this way, the thirty girls will become agents of change and establish institutions that will benefit hundreds of girls and women in the future. Such a project is especially important in India because investing in girls’ education can alleviate poverty and the ignorance that oppresses poor girls and women.
The other portion of the BGR grant to Bodhicitta supports a women’s job training and community center, where women receive education, loans, and business training to empower them to start their own businesses and gain income that will directly increase the well-being of their children, families, and communities, lifting them out of poverty. The community center creates space for awareness-raising, health workshops, counseling, career guidance, and quality education that is currently lacking in the difficult environment of a large industrial slum. Year three of a three-year project.
14. India: Helping Widows Rebuild Their Lives NEW PARTNER
Our new partner, Building Bridges India, is registered in India as a non-profit organization. Founded in 2006, the basic of mission of BBI is “to help widows and families in ten villages in Sangrur District, Punjab, to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of suicides of male family members.” They have expanded to other districts as well.
BGR will be partnering with Building Bridges on two projects. One will provide skills training in tailoring and running a business to 250 widows in Sangrur. Upon the suicide of their husbands these women have been left with many dependents, no skills, and heavy debts. Moderate to severe anemia and malnutrition are common among them. BGR funding will allow BBI to expand and upgrade the design of phulkari embroidery products to include mats, napkins, and other household items. It will improve women’s sewing skills and provide them with better sewing machines and appropriate sewing patterns. A design consultant will be hired to upgrade the design of products and workshops will be offered in five centers to train women in basic marketing, budgeting, and other entrepreneurial skills. BBI will also develop a marketing strategy for the program as a whole in order to scale up the project over time.
The second project will provide training in organic farming to 250 widows in Sangrur. BBI has already set up “kitchen gardens” in five centers to provide fresh, nutritious vegetables and small farm training to the women and their families, improving their nutrition and self-confidence. BGR’s grant will be used to set up five more gardens and provide training for the women. The program will unfold in three phases: Phase One will offer the women ten workshops for training in organic farming techniques; Phase Two will provide four workshops on health, nutrition, and sanitation; and Phase Three will provide additional training for selected participants, surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of the training, and study of the program’s effectiveness in improving nutrition.
15. India: Prosperity through Resilient Livelihood NEW PROJECT
This agriculture project, with partner Oxfam India, aims at improving the livelihood of small and marginal farmers, especially women farmers, through enhanced resilience of agriculture in Uttar Pradesh. Over 70% population in the state depends on agriculture for their livelihood. However, frequent drought, flooding, and localized climatic variation have put the agricultural production system under tremendous stress. This has resulted in poor and unsustainable productivity leading to chronic poverty for farming families, especially those having small land holdings.
The project intends to build the capacity of farmers in sustainable and climate resilient cropping practices, set up a pilot to initiate a federation for self-sustainable agriculture, develop work in the project area, and link the community with government schemes for convergence of resources at the village level. The goal of the project is to contribute to increased resilience and improved income among smallholders, specifically women farmers. At least 1,500 women farmers will be taught integrated climate resilient agriculture practices. The farmers will be linked to government schemes, and household income of the 1,500 women farmers is expected to increase by 30%.
The project will be implemented in 20 villages of five gram-panchayat in Mitauli block of Lakhimpur Kheri, covering about 3,000 households. Assistance will be provided by partner organization Asian Institute of Management (AIM).
16. Jamaica & Haiti: Breakfasts for Hungry School Children
The Trees That Feed Foundation is a U.S.-registered non-profit based in Chicago. Its mission is to plant trees to feed people, create jobs, and benefit the environment, with a focus on planting trees in school gardens in low-income countries with food shortages. They presently have projects in Jamaica and Haiti and are branching out to include projects in Africa.
In Haiti and Jamaica, government support of childhood education is severely constrained by weak budgets. Teacher salaries are modest and school facilities are often in poor condition. School meal programs are limited, and for some schools non-existent. Hungry schoolchildren are unable to realize the benefits of education.
The grant from BGR will enable TTFF to provide over 30,000 meals, plus corollary benefits to the teachers and producers. This program will benefit approximately ten schools in Haiti and Jamaica (five in each country) with three breakfast meals per week, for three classrooms of 30 children each, for one full semester. These are locally produced, healthy and nutritious meals, not imported foods, and thus the project benefits local industry. The porridge mix includes equal parts of breadfruit flour and cornmeal flour, plus coconut and other seasonings. The porridge mix is packaged in one- or two-pound bags. The schoolteacher or staff person mixes one pound of flour with eight cups of boiling water to produce enough porridge to serve a classroom of 15 children. The project will commence in both countries with the fall semester, which begins in September.