Our Stories

Meet Kaushalya Bisht

530 300 The Hunger Project Australia

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

530 300 The Hunger Project Australia

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.  

“I planted different varieties, so it gives my family different nutrients. 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.

530 300 The Hunger Project Australia

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.

530 300 The Hunger Project Australia

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.”

Bizuhaye Terefe Goes Back to School

530 300 The Hunger Project Australia

Originally published by The Hunger Project Nederland.

In the North Shoha region of Ethiopia, The Hunger Project is actively working with the Her Choice alliance to end of child marriages and enabling girls to re-enrol in school. Often, these are girls who have dropped out of school after a child marriage or teenage pregnancy. The Hunger Project empowers girls so that they can finish their education and transform their situations for themselves and their children.

Bizuhaye Terefe, 19 years old, lives in the village of Wujiba with her aunt and five-year-old son, Abity. She has been going back to school for two years now.

Bizuhaye is happy that she can go back to school after she had to leave when she was just 13 years old.

“When I was 13, I was raped and then I got pregnant. That was a very nasty experience. I’m still sad about that,” Bizuhaye says. “Because I was expecting, I had to quit school — that’s how it works here. I was living with my grandmother at the time because my mother had died a year earlier. After Abity was born, I lived with grandma for a while, but she could no longer care for us. Fortunately my aunt, Genzeb, then took us in.”

Image credit: Johannes Ode

The Hunger Project started the Her Choice program in the region two years ago. They empower and run activities for girls who left school too early to give them the chance to go back to school. Like Bizuhaye, these girls are usually married early or pregnant.

“I was visited by the school director, asking if Bizuhaye wanted to come back to school. Of course I wanted to help her, but I had no money for pens, notebooks, uniform and other school supplies. The Hunger Project then took care of that so Bizuhaye could go back to school!” says Genzeb.

Bizuhaye says, “I really enjoy going back to school. My favourite subject is English. My dream is to become a pilot later, that seems great. I can therefore earn a lot of money and help my family. If I later become a pilot and my future husband has a busy job, I want to plan the arrival of even more children. I certainly want to have four children, but I want to be ready for it. Abity can then become a big brother. It will take a while before the time comes. First I want to finish high school and study. And my son will also go to school from next year. “

Stella’s Story.

530 300 The Hunger Project Australia

We will never forget the look on Stella’s face when she described having no choice but to marry off her 14-year old grand-daughter, Emilida, to keep the other three children in her care alive. Stella’s eyes were heavy. The shame she felt was etched on her face. No choice. What would you do? Save three children or potentially lose four?

Stella’s daughter and son-in-law had died of HIV and Stella had taken on the care of their children. Suddenly, she had four children she couldn’t afford to raise.

Stella’s grand-daughter, Emilida, was married off at 14 to a man twice her age. One day, while Emilida was at the markets, she was approached by two Women’s Empowerment Animators (local volunteer leaders) trained by The Hunger Project. The Animators asked Emilida why she wasn’t at school and why she was so dirty. After confiding in them about her marriage, the Animators and Emilida returned to her Grandmother’s house and spoke to her about the negative impact of child marriage and the importance of education. The group decided that it was time to take action.

They went to the village chief and had Emilida’s marriage annulled.

The Women’s Empowerment Animators empowered Stella with the knowledge and resources she needed to transform her family’s life. Now, Stella farms maize and sells firewood to earn an income. She re-enrolled Emilida in school and is an advocate for girls education.  Stella has also become a Women’s Empowerment Animator, so that she can empower other women and girls in her community.

Emilida’s vision is to one day become a teacher so that, she too can empower others through education.

This is not a story of despair. This is a story of hope, courage, transformation and possibility for the future. Leadership is not about having influence or power. Leadership is having a clear vision and having the determination, courage and passion to achieve it.

Find out more about our Leadership Immersion Programs.

International Day of the Girl 2019

530 300 The Hunger Project Australia

Today is International Day of the Girl. Here at The Hunger Project, we’re celebrating the unscripted and unstoppable girls who are ending hunger around the world.

Meet Bonani

In the Bagherhat District of Bangladesh, Bonani is a young girl who attends high school. 

In many parts of Bangladesh, girls are denied an education. Continuing beyond primary school to high school is limited to those families who can afford it. Many families like Bonani’s often make a choice between sending their girls to school or marrying them off at a young age. Early marriage is often seen as the right decision. As a result, many girls are pulled out of school and never return.   

Even for those girls like Bonani, who do get to continue their studies, there are other barriers. Where Bonani lives, there were no toilets at schools for girls to use. This meant that she would have to stay home when she was menstruating. At other times she developed bladder issues from not being able to use a toilet all day at school. Because of this, she missed one week per month of schooling. 

“Boys get many advantages, why not girls? We are all created equal. Girls need more support when they go through physical and mental changes,” Bonani says. 

 The Hunger Project runs programs such as the Safe Schools for Girls in rural communities in Bangladesh. Safe Schools for Girls increases girls’ attendance in school including by getting toilets for girls installed. To date, more than 30,000 students have participated in the program.  

“I joined a group in my school because I like to learn things and spread awareness among others. I like social activities such as dancing and acting, and I also learned that girls like me could have a say. So now I advocate for girls’ toilets and changerooms to be installed in schools, and for boys to stop harassing girls especially on the way to and from school.”  

Today, Bonani is a proud advocate for getting girls’ toilets installed in local schools. She is also an active member of her school community, advocating to stop harassment and child marriage and encouraging her peers to stay in school.   

“It would be better to get married at 30, after getting an education and a job. I like to help other people and society. In the future I want to serve my country through social work or becoming a doctor,” she says. 

Invest in programs like Safe Schools for Girls here.

Meet Razia: Protesting Child Marriage

530 300 The Hunger Project Australia

In Bangladesh, boys are typically valued more than girls. Girls are often pulled out of school at a young age to be married off. They aren’t able to earn an income for themselves or have a say in family decisions. They are made to look after their siblings and families, do the household chores and other manual labour instead.  

After being forced to marry at 15 years old (three years before the legal age of 18), Razia was denied an education and was forced to stay at home and provide for her new husband and start a family. No one protested her marriage. Like other girls her age who were being married, Razia soon gave birth to a boy and a girl.   

“I thought child marriage was my fate,” she says. 

She couldn’t see a way to break out of the cycle of poverty and stop own daughter from becoming a victim of child marriage just like she had been. 

The Hunger Project runs programs such as Women’s Leadership Workshops in rural communities in Bangladesh. These workshops empower women with knowledge and skills they can use to develop their own businesses to transform their situation, lift their families out of poverty, and enable other women in their village to do the same

After receiving training from The Hunger Project, Razia began a new enterprise from home — sewing — which has brought in an income. She also started a women’s self-help group to help other women save money to reinvest in their family on important things like education.  

Razia now works from home earning her own income. As she earned more income, her confidence grew. She looked to use her newfound influence to shift the perspective on local issues close to her heart, and now protests against child marriage in her village.  

I’ve learned how to raise poultry and livestock, and sew. Because of this, I now have enough savings to easily support the health and education of my children. I’ve also been able to send my own daughter to The Hunger Project’s Youth Leadership Training. Now she collaborates with other young people around here to create a harmonious society free from child marriage.  

In addition, I’ve set up my own compost plant to produce organic fertiliser for my home garden. I’ve now encouraged 20 other women in my neighbourhood to set up their own organic compost plants too.” 

The women’s group have written a list of children who have dropped out of school in the village. They are working to support them to return to studying.   

“Now, I work to protest against child marriage and make people aware of its consequences,” Razia says.  

Meet Kaushalya Bisht, an elected woman saving the forests in India

530 300 The Hunger Project Australia

Kaushalya Bisht is a council President in Uttarakhand. After training with The Hunger Project, she is now leveraging public office to refocus attention on the issue of preserving the forests.  

“In the mountains, forests are a lifeline for women. The wood from the forest is what we use to build our houses and for firewood. The fodder for our cattle also comes from the forest. We formed a collective of 30 women and decided to revive the forest council elections. We look after the forest like our own children.” 

Deforestation and climate change are endangering the forests. Kaushalya passionately speaks about access to forest resources, equity, and justice. She is setting up forest councils to protect the forest for generations to come. This is her story:

Video credit: The Hunger Project India, Black Ticket Films.

Patrick from Malawi | Vision, Determination, Transparency.

1024 576 The Hunger Project Australia

Patrick from Malawi learnt that he and his wife were both HIV positive after they had a stillborn baby.  

When he was trained by The Hunger Project to become a local volunteer leader, an Animator, he saw an opportunity to connect with and lift up others in his community dealing with the same challenges and he and his wife. He formed a small support group called Umozi made up of ten people living with HIV. 

“In the group we talk about medication and how difficult it can be to stick to taking it regularly — sometimes you feel gloomy and stressed and you just don’t know how to go on.” 

Together, they have planted a vegetable garden, which helps keep their diet diverse and nutritious. Occasionally, they sell goods at the market and put the money earned into a joint bank account so that they can support one another financially 

Everyone has a future, but some of us have to work for it more than others. We cannot afford to eat unhealthily and become ill, because our immunity is already low. If one of us loses weight, then he or she must go to the clinic immediately. We have to pay attention to these things, and look out for one another.” 

After taking medication very strictly for three years, Patrick and his wife tried again for another baby.  

“I was nervous throughout the entire pregnancy. What if our child is also HIV positive? We now have a healthy son, a beautiful gift from God.”