Our Stories

Three stories of impact from India

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A few months ago, we ran a campaign for creating COVID-resilient communities. Since then, our 550,000 trained local leaders on the ground have been in constant motion: assessing and re-assessing the ever-evolving challenges, and leveraging their collective leadership, resilience and resources to design and deliver local solutions for a COVID-safe future.

Given good news stories are something we’re all aching to hear about at the moment, we’d like to share with you 3 of the thousands of stories of courageous leaders creating impact in India right now.

How Women Leaders In India Are Building A COVID-Safe Future.

Elected women trained by The Hunger Project in India like Gudiya, Kamla and Mamta have been working hand-in-hand with accredited health workers on the village frontlines. Together they’ve delivered essential healthcare – vaccinations, iron and calcium tablets, accurate information – deep into rural and remote villages.

1. Gudiya Cares For The Next Generation.

Because of elected woman leader Gudiya and her close partnership with healthcare worker Anita, extremely malnourished children are receiving iron and calcium tablets in Madyha Pradesh. They go door-to-door visiting families for health checks and motivating people to get vaccinated. Anita estimates that in the past year she has screened more than 1,500 people for COVID-19.

2. Kamla Leads From The Front.

Because of elected woman leader Kamla, 82 people got their first vaccination in the space of just 2 days in rural Bihar.

“When the vaccination drive started, so did the rumour mill about how vaccines increased the chances of infection or that they made men impotent. We knew we had to spare no effort to sensitise people. I took the vaccine first to show people how it helps us, not harms us.” – Kamla, an elected woman trained by THP who balances her public duty with her responsibilities as an accredited healthcare worker.

3. Mamta Busts Harmful Myths.

Because of elected woman Mamta and her unique relationship with health worker Guaramma, myths and misconceptions about COVID-19 are busted on a daily basis in Karnataka. Visiting 20-30 houses a day, they share accurate healthcare information so people can protect themselves and their communities.

You can become a Changemaker.

You can play your part in standing up against the status quo by unleashing this kind of practical, community-minded leadership that is required for us to create COVID-resilient communities around the world. If you are inspired by what you’ve read here, take action, make an impact and give now or monthly to further our work.

Rebecka’s business is sending her children to school

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Rebecka is a farmer and mother of five from Boti in Ghana. Rebecka has become an entrepreneur thanks to her partnership with The Hunger Project.

Rebecka participated in the microfinance program implemented in her community by The Hunger Project. Thanks to this program, she was able to take out four different microfinance loans.

With the money from the first loan of 100 cedis (the local currency equivalent to about AUD$22), she took it and invested it in her sustainable palm oil and agriculture farming business. She made a small profit and repaid the loan back quickly.

For her other microfinance loans she was able to buy a motorcycle which she now leases to people in her community. Motorcycles are useful for transport in rural communities and leasing them out allows her to pay off the loans and make some money on the side.

“It’s a big encouragement for me to have my own business. I feel proud to be self-employed and not work for somebody else,” Rebecka said.

Thanks to the money she’s now earning from  her business she can afford to send her children to school. Rebecka has lifted her family out of hunger and with her children attending school they too are keeping themselves out of the cycle of hunger. Her husband has even decided to take part in some of The Hunger Project’s training programs, but she asserts that she is financially independent.

“My husband helps me with my business, but I take care of the money. My money is my money. 

 “I like to be employed by myself, I’m proud of my company,” she said.

Rebecka has bigger dreams and a wider vision for her business. She would like to expand her business in the future to a bigger farm, reaching more communities and she wants to partner with The Hunger Project as she does it

I need to buy larger pots for the palm oil so that I can produce larger quantities. I’m quickly outgrowing myself. When I have paid off the latest loan, I want to take out another microfiance loan, with the lessons I learnt from The Hunger Project, so I can buy more pots.

“My plans now are to expand the business so that I can move from the family farm and build my own house with my husband and our children,” she said.  

Inspired by Rebecka’s story? Invest now and empower more women like Rebecka so they too can lift themselves and their families out of hunger.

Abraham Made His Children A Future

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Abraham Narh is a farmer and father of 8 children from rural Ghana. His children can’t go to school because they need to work on the family farm so they can produce enough crops to sell. This is not the life Abraham wants for his children.

Abraham’s vision was to make a future for his children. After partnering with The Hunger Project he was able to make his vision a reality.

On the farm the family grows corn, cassava, coconut and other vegetables, selling what they can at market. Abraham went to a workshop run by The Hunger Project and he learnt the importance of diversifying the crops he grows.

The THP workshop also taught Abraham about the benefits of microfinance loans, so he took one out at the the local Hunger Project Epicentre.

Using the new skills he learnt at the THP workshop, Abraham has been able to grow his crop yield beyond belief. He now has enough money that he can employ people to work on his farm, and his children can finally go to school.

Abraham has made his vision come to life and he has been able to make a future for his children.

“I want my children to decide their own future for themselves. I wasn’t that privileged, I want it better for my children,” Abraham said.

Invest now in changemakers like Abraham so they can make their vision for the future a reality.

Kossegui shows that things can be done differently.

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Kossegui Ganigi is a farmer from Guinagourou, Benin. She has two daughters and is taking care of her sister’s baby, as her sister died in childbirth. Kosseguis’s dream is that all girls in the village can go to school and all women can give birth safely. She has found her own way to bring the people in her village into achieving this dream.

“I am convinced that it is possible if the women of Guinagourou get involved together. But nobody wants to believe me. They think it’s a strange dream and can’t imagine it,” Kossegui said.

For a year, Kossegui woke up an hour earlier every day and went door-to-door around her village to try and make her neighbours understand the importance of her vision. They remained cynical, however she knew she couldn’t achieve her vision on her own. She needed their involvement.

She came up with a new plan.

“I manage to save 15 cents a day from my fish business. With that I can build the first stone house in the village after a year. Everyone wants a stone house, but the neighbours also think that it is not for our kind of people.

“If I have a stone house, they will see that things can be done differently. And then they will also start moving. Just wait,” Kossegui said.

Invest now in changemakers like Kossegui to do things differently and transform their lives.

Courageous Shania stopped her own child marriage.

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“I know the consequences of child marriage. [From The Hunger Project, we also] learnt about the evils of drugs, as well as changes during adolescence. Knowing all of this has given me the courage to protect myself against early marriage. I was able to convince my parents. My marriage is over. Now I can realise my dream of becoming a teacher.”

The Hunger Project runs programs such as Youth Ending Hunger in schools in rural Bangladesh. Shania is in year 9 at school and lives in the Naogaon district 

In parts of Bangladesh that are very poor, many families struggle to afford to send their children to school. Because boys tend to be valued more than girls, parents typically pull out girls from school and marry them off, even before the legal age of 18. COVID-19 has compounded an already bad situation: the UN Population Fund estimates an additional 13 million child marriages will occur between 2020-2030 due to the pandemic. 

Shania usually rides a bicycle to school. The people of the village did not approve of her behaviour, so they approached her father with a marriage proposal. Shania knew that she had to do something to stop it happening. She had learnt about the negative consequences of child marriage through the Youth Ending Hunger’ program in her school – a program run by school students who have been trained by The Hunger Project tmobilise their classmates around the issue of child marriage. 

Because of this knowledge, Shania was able to talk to her parents about the consequences of child marriage, such as the health dangers of giving birth before her body was fully developed, and continuing the cycle of malnutrition for her baby. As a result, her parents helped her to stop her marriage, and she was luckily able to remain in school. 

It has never been a more critical time to empower girls to stop the harmful practice of child marriage today — invest here.

How these school students stopped child marriage.

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“I got confidence from [my training with] The Hunger Project and stopped my early marriage.” — Hira, Year 10, Bangladesh.

The Hunger Project runs programs such as ‘Safe Schools for Girls’ in rural Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, two thirds of girls are married off before their 18th birthday, and 1 in 5 are married off before the age of 15. This means girls are constantly vulnerable to being married off before they’re ready. 

One day out of nowhereHira’s relatives arranged her marriage to an unemployed boy. As part of The Hunger Project’s ‘Safe Schools for Girls’ program, reproductive health training had been conducted at her school. From this training, Hira had learnt about the harmful consequences of child marriage, including the dangers of getting pregnant before the body is fully developed. In addition, The Hunger Project had shown many short educational movies in her school. One particular movie called “Kusum’s Autobiography” had left a deep impression, as she saw in the movie how child marriage destroys the life of a teenager – essentially forcing them overnight to stop being a girl and to become a wife and motherShe knew that if she were married off before the legal age of 18, then her life could end up like that too 

With this knowledge, Hira enlisted the help of the other girls and boys in The Hunger Project’s Youth Unit – a group of school students who actively work to stop child marriage for the girls at their schoolTogether, they explained the negative consequences to her family members and were successfully able to convince them to call off the marriage. 

It doesn’t have to be like this. You could invest today so that even more girls can access this program and end child marriage.

Meet Kaushalya Bisht

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Sustainability, Interconnectedness, Decentralisation.

Kaushalya Bisht is an Elected Women Representative from Uttarakhand, India, a remote region at the foothills of the Himalayas. The Hunger Project worked with her to develop the skills she needs to make change for her community as a representative through our SWEEP program (Strengthening Women’s Empowerment through Electoral Processes). As part of this program, The Hunger Project trains Elected Women to read, write, speak and lead the political agenda to improve education, health, and nutrition in their villages.

Uttarakhand is the only state in India where village communities come together to protect and nurture their forests by forming forest councils. The forests are a lifeline for women. They provide wood for them to build their houses, dry wood for fires and fodder for their cattle. Ensuring the sustainability of the forests is crucial for survival in the village.

However, in Kaushalya’s village, they hadn’t held elections for the forest council in 15 years.

“We formed a collective of 30 women and decided to revive the forest elections,” Kaushalya said.

“My team of women patrolled the forests. We didn’t allow anyone to cut down the trees. Together, we planted 100,000 trees. We take care of the forests like we do our own children.”

During her term as an Elected Women Representative, Kaushalya made 45,000 kg of paddy seeds available to the farmers and distributed 300 tree samplings to encourage the people in her village to grow trees. For the women in her village, 80% of their farms are across the other side of the river, which means the women have to walk a long distance to their farms. Kaushalya secured the building of a bridge by taking the matter to her village council. She also took action to prevent soil erosion by building 11 check dams (small dams built to reduce water flow velocity) by the river.

“I want my village to continue thriving.”

Kaushalya continues to shape a legacy of protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable change for future generations in her community.

Invest in women like Kaushalya to bring transformation to villages in India here.

 

Meet Mr. Henderson

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We met Mr. Henderson on the Unlock Leadership Immersion Program in Malawi in November 2019.  

 Mr Henderson is 22 years old and is from Nsondole Epicentre. After receiving training from an Animator (local volunteer leader) trained by The Hunger Project, Mr Henderson began planting seeds in his garden.  

 Now, he proudly grows beans, peas, Chinese vegetables and tomatoes. Mr Henderson also sells the surplus vegetables that he has grown so that he can earn an income.  

“The Hunger Project taught me to plant different vegetables, so it gives my family different nutrients and we do not live in hunger. Now I don’t need to buy vegetables from other people”, he said.  

Mr. Henderson has also become a Nutrition Animator because he is passionate about passing on what he learnt to other community members including how to grow your own nutritious food and how to make compost manure.  

Mr Henderson’s garden acts as a demonstration for his neighbours and community that they too, can transform their lives.    

Meet Jessie.

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Jessie is 41 years old and lives in the Nsondole community in Malawi. Jessie and her husband have five children.

“My number one vision is to educate my children,” she says.

Jessie has been receiving farm input loans from The Hunger Project since 2017. With these loans, she has been able to purchase seeds to grow maize and rice which she can use to feed her family. She then sells any leftover produce at the market. With the money they made selling their produce at the market, Jessie and her husband invested in a sewing machine, which her husband used to set up a tailoring business.

With two incomes to support them, everyone in the family now has three meals a day. Now, Jessie’s goal is to buy a motorcycle so her family can get around much more easily.

“My household is doing much better now. We are practising new planting methods and special farming methods so now my family doesn’t have to live in hunger and I can send my children to school.”

Meet Cheikh Diouf.

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Originally published by The Hunger Project Nederland

Cheikh Diouf from Ndié has been a member of the grain bank at Ndereppe Epicentre, Senegal, since the start of 2006. He has also become a member of the newly established farmers’ association. This has enabled him to provide his family with enough food.

“I have learnt and improved on my sowing technique and get good seeds from the grain bank. The yield from my country has increased enormously! I now harvest a greater amount with less time investment and less land. I used to grow millet on four hectares of land — now I only need two hectares. On the remaining two hectares I can grow peanuts and beans, some for my family and some for sale. ”

Cheikh Dioud, member of the grain bank - Senegal - Ndereppe - Johannes Odé - 300x300In his house, Cheikh has six barrels of millet — a few in the storehouse and a few in the bedroom.

“I have enough supplies at home to feed my family. I have two women, nine children and many grandchildren living with me. One barrel, which holds 250 kilos, can last three months. With the six we have enough millet to get through the year! I don’t have to buy millet at the grain bank, but it is good that this facility is present for others. ”

As an Animator (local volunteer leader) with The Hunger Project, Cheikh provides information about sowing techniques and food security to his fellow villagers. He is also a member of the food security village committee.

“Being a member of the grain bank has enabled so much for me. I no longer have any problems feeding my family. My fellow villagers and I have more knowledge about agriculture, and the village has gained a greater sense of community and solidarity.”