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Celebrating the new water well in Duvuru with members of the community
A Blog Post from Dawn Meier - Sunrise Photography - See orginal blog and photos http://www.dawnmeierphotography.com/blog/2016/10/india-project.
I was thrilled to be invited to India to photograph the aid work of Destitute 2 Destiny. Although I no longer work full-time in humanitarian aid, my heart is still full of compassion, especially for marginalized women and children. A charity under the umbrella of Hope for the Nations, D2D is passionately committed to improving the lives of the poor and oppressed.
In the past few years, D2D has provided water wells, invested in education, planted gardens, empowered women with micro-enterprise, helped keep girls in school, and other vital projects. For more project photos, click here. In addition to visiting these projects, we chose a new, compelling issue to tackle on this trip: the woeful lack of feminine hygiene education and products available to girls and women. Our research uncovered a shocking, hidden problem - up to 23% of girls drop out of school due to a lack of sanitary wear, either due to unaffordability or unavailability. We decided to tackle this problem from two sides. First, an amazing group of ladies in Kelowna got to work, sewing washable, reusable sanitary pad kits. Thanks to their hard work, we were able to take 340 kits to distribute, accompanied by much-needed education on feminine reproduction and hygiene. Some of the women, even many who were married and had children, had no idea of the purpose of their periods, their reproductive systems, or how it all worked.
Secondly, our generous donors provided the funds for us to purchase and disburse 41 sewing machines - enabling 41 women to start sewing to support their families, and provide sanitary pad kits to their own market. The women would make payments for the machines into a co-op, with the funds to be used to purchase more machines, creating a perpetual project. Linda Hayes, a professional seamstress from Kelowna, taught the women how to sew the sanitary pads and liners. Everyone loved her humorous style of teaching!
We even did one workshop by lantern, and then cell phone light after the power went off! Thankfully, most of the sewing machines could be used both with electricity AND treadle. The power goes off regularly in India, sometimes several times a day, and you never know when it will come back on.
Our team of three - Carol, Linda, and myself, travelled throughout India, teaching seven workshops in five areas. It was quite the adventure - shopping for fabric in torrential rain; many hours of travel by train, plane, car, and subway; teaching with or without electricity; and surviving the traffic chaos. So many precious people! We're hoping we made their lives a tiny bit better!
For more photos of this project, and the workshops, click http://www.dawnmeierphotography.com/d2dprojects
Dear friends and partners,
Joy and gratitude are two words that sum up our 2015 trip to India. The smiles say it all. Your generosity has saved lives and improved the quality of so many forever. We bring back oodles of thanksgiving and appreciation. King David once said: “The share of the one who goes into battle is to be the same as the share of the one who remains with the supplies; they will share equally.” Whether you participated in prayers, house sitting, $5 or $5,000, you helped make up the team called Destitute to Destiny. It is only in eternity that we will fully realize the number of lives impacted.
In 2014, Ralph Bromley and I went to India to see first hand the work of Fr. Biju and the priests and nuns of Opus Spiritus Sancti. We drove to remote communities and met many Dalit people who suffered greatly under the unjust caste system of India. While five strategic areas were identified to work on in the first year, I am very pleased to announce that our humble expectations were far exceeded.
Water Wells: 4 Villages have received water bore wells with a 5th one in process
Each well services 15 to 20 families and frees the women from walking miles daily for a single jug of water to suffice for the family’s needs.
Going forward: Fresh water wells remain a huge need. We lost 15 people to dehydration in our communities in 2015.
Micro Enterprise: 26 women have transitioned from bonded slavery to successful home-based businesses
Proud husbands invited us into their homes to see their wives creations. Women who once sewed jeans in a sweatshop environment now sew beautiful clothing for their neighbours, making substantially more money. A beautiful sight was that of a young mother who sewed with her baby asleep next to her in a hammock hung from the roof.
Of the 26 sewing machines, we supplied 24 and the women’s cooperative bought the other two. The women themselves chose a micro-enterprise model, where they pay back the cost of the sewing machines at 0% interest over six years to the cooperative. This gives them pride of ownership and reduces accusations of privilege. The money is then recycled to buy more machines for other women. Some women are choosing to pay back over a shorter period of time.
Going forward: Every sewing machine becomes a gift that keeps on giving. Our hope is to purchase two new sewing machines for every one that the cooperative buys in 2016. Thereafter they should be able to afford to help another family every month or less. This inclusive model encompasses women from all religious backgrounds in an ever-widening circle.
We have also invited our nuns to advise to the women’s co-op on financial as well as sewing issues. They will introduce the Days for Girls reusable feminine hygiene products, which we brought with on this trip, to the women in our communities.
Next year we are planning to bring a seamstress from Canada who will teach new ideas and sewing skills to our sewing cooperative.
Renovations to our hostel/orphanage
Thanks to a generous gift, we were able to tile, paint and replace broken pipes in our washrooms, dormitories, hallways, kitchen, and staff accommodations. The children were very excited to show us their new dormitories.
Going forward: Two issues have arisen:
Unfortunately, the mold is recurring and beginning to break through the paint on some walls.The town council is widening the road in the front and has informed us that they will be demolishing this building. We will need to build new accommodations for the orphans and semi-orphans who live at our school. We plan to put together a proposal for fundraising in the new year.
Food sustainability through organic fruits & vegetable gardens
Many fruit and Moringa trees were planted on two of our properties this past year. In November, Terry and Glynn worked with children and staff to plant our first vegetable and spice gardens. It is small beginning, but definitely a project we would like to expand in the new year.
Going forward: We visited the head office of Navdanya in Delhi in December. This NGO promotes biodiversity, organic farming, conservation, the rights of farmers, and the process of seed saving. In 2016 we hope to send strategic staff and students for training at Bija Vidyapeeth (Navdanya’s Earth University and Biodiversity Conservation Farm in Doon Valley) http://www.navdanya.org.
New Literacy Project
While in Delhi we met with the Development Alternatives Group, creators of the TARA Akshar+ Literacy and Numeracy program. They have been recognized as the fastest literacy program in the world, guaranteeing to teach illiterate people to read, write and do simple arithmetic in 56 days, see http://taraakshar.org. Our hope is to introduce this program to our seamstresses in 2016. Literacy is foundational to furthering education and building successful businesses. In the future we will consider expanding and including financial literacy and English literacy programs. It will cost $100 USD ($140 CAD) per person for the literacy program. We hope to raise half of this cost and then partner with their major corporate sponsors, including IKEA, OXFAM, UNICEF, etc.
A highlight of our trip was the handing out of shoes, clothing, chocolates and other goodies to our orphans and live-ins at our Golden Bells Elementary School. Their joy was tangible.
Last year while walking in Lake Louise, I was impressed at the power of the river formed by ice melting high up in the Rocky Mountains. The water began to trickle over rocks, slowly forming rivulets, then streams, which merged as they cascaded downhill and converged to form this powerful river that nourished the land and ecosystems in its path. I saw it as an analogy of what will happen as hearts melt for the Dalits. That funds will come from many sources, some small and some large, merging together to form a powerful and strong river to nourish and refresh the poor.
For all who have shared in this work, please accept our deepest gratitude for your trust. We are all volunteers and pay our own way. Through HFTN, every cent donated is tracked and accounted for.
Merry Christmas and may God reward you richly with peace, joy and love in 2016,
Adam Fitzpatrick was Incredibly entertaining and very personable
The Benefit Concert with Elvis tribute artist Adam Fitzpatrick was a huge sucess!!! Thank you Adam and Ron!
Thank you to every one who came out last night and especially to those who travelled long distances to be with us.
We had a virtually sold out event and are looking forward to the finally tallies and being able to buy a number of sewing machines for Dalit women in India.
I will do another post when we have our machines.
Benefit Concert with Elvis tribute artist Adam Fitzpatrick
Benefit Concert with Elvis tribute artist Grand champion, Adam Fitzpatrick.
All proceeds are going buy sewing machines for Dalit women in India.
Location: Mary Irwin Theater, Rotary Centre for the Arts
Date: April 30, 2015
Time: 7:30 PM
Cost $30 per person
Presentation of New Sewing Machine to Laxmi by Fr. Biju
Last October I received a call from Rachel Feddes, a busy mother of four who had travelled to India and wanted to make a difference in the lives of women there. She came up with a brilliant plan to offer exercise classes at her church for the cost of a donation to Destitute to Destiny. Rachel and her generous ladies, along with a couple of other donors, have managed to buy the first 5 sewing machines for women who were working in the sewing sweat shop industry for a $1 per 10 hour day.
5 families now have their mothers back at home, with a means of earning an income, while taking care of their own children. They have formed a small Women's Sewing Cooperative and have negotiated contracts to sew jeans. A whole community of women have been given hope for a better future.
Thank you Rachel and company!!!
Some goals are too high for any one person to accomplish alone, but by gathering more people together we are all able to make a larger impact in the lives of children at risk.
Rachel Feddes, a busy mother of four, has used her talents creatively and started a group at her church called Yoga for Hope and a Destiny. See her story below. Rachel has donated all of the proceeds to buy sewing machines for Dalit women in our missions, who are typically paid $1 per 10 hour day, working for sewing sweat shops in India. This gift will enable some of these women to start their own micro-enterprise, working from home and raising their own children.
Consider sharing projects with your friends, families and co-workers and have them do the same!
For the past 6 weeks I was able to share and grow with woman in my church family, teaching a yoga class.
I have a heart for India and instantly I was drawn to see what Hope for the Nations was doing in this area of the world. I felt a connection with and wanted to help the Dalit woman and their micro sewing business. These are mothers the same as me, who are wanting to take care of their children and their basic needs and never able to get ahead. They have skills and are ambitious but they were born into a caste system .
I hope to continue with teaching yoga in the new year and 100% of the fee will be donated to this sewing project.
I am excited to see what the future holds. It's just the beginning.
For most of us, we turn on the tap and have fresh water. These villagers have been used to walking many miles a day for a bucket of water, which is used for drinking, cooking and cleaning of body, clothes and dishes. They do not have free access to the wells of higher caste Indians. We want to thank Gail and Peter De Smidt for donating our first water well, which will service 15-20 families.
Below is a letter from the local parish priest:
Greetings of Peace and joy from Fr. Sampath ALCP/OSS Gavaravaram Parish, West Godavari District.
I take this opportunity of thanking you whole heartedly for your love and concern towards Gavaravaram parish, especially to Tirumalapuram village.
The whole village is very happy because their long dream was fulfilled. The charitable work we have done was well appreciated by all categories of people because it is very much in demand. I specially thank Rev.Fr.Biju Joseph, Provincial Superior and benefactors for your kind heart and generous help.
On behalf of all the villagers, I place my sicere and happy thanks ... for sponsoring this Bore well. You have made a great sacrifice, but this great sacrifice has found fruit in providing drinking water for 15-20 Families. You will see all these in the attached photos. WE ASSURE YOU OF DAILY PRAYERS THAT THE LORD MAY CONTINUE TO BLESS YOU ALL.
With your contribution and cooperation to our Tirumalapura faithful today they could get sufficient water for their daily needs. The government officials promised villagers about the bore well but still not actualised. Knowing this fact all the faithful and villagers expressed their sincere thanks.
We remember and pray for you and for all the generous benefactors who made this gift possible that the good Lord may bless you to continue your good works for coming of his kingdom.
With prayerful wishes I remain
Yours sincerely in Christ
Fr. Samapth ALCP/OSS
TOUCH OF CHRISTMAS FAIR 2014
I would like to invite you please visit me tomorrow at my
DESTITUTE TO DESTINY Booth at A TOUCH OF CHRISTMAS FAIR
You will find me Left of the Stage
I will be selling SCARVES from India and
JEWELRY from designer Gail de Smidt in South Africa
ALL PROCEEDS WILL GO TO DESTITUTE TO DESTINY's
Education and Capacity building projects for the Dalits of India
Date November 29th, 2014
Time 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Loc New Life Church Kelowna 2041 Harvey Avenue, Kelowna, BC
This is the 6th Annual A Touch of Christmas Crafter and Vendors Fair
It is one stop Christmas experience; featuring 70 Crafters and Vendors, Door Prizes & Gift Basket Draws valued over $100 each, a Silent Auction, Photo opportunities with St Nicholas by donation, Musicians and Performers. Our Touch of Christmas Cookie Bar will be serving mouth watering Christmas cookies and delicious beverages.
Adult entry is Two Tins of food or a Toonie.Parking is free.
INDIA COFFEE HOUSE EVENT featuring ANDREW SMITH and SHERRY FUNK
Thanks to all you wonderful people who were planning on attending or helping me organize this Coffee House Event event.
Special thanks to Andrew Smith and Sherry Funk, as well as Ingrid Sivorot and other musicians who had offered to share their musical talents with us.
Due to the sudden death of my mother-in-law in South Africa, we regretfully had to postpone this to sometime in the new year.
As soon as we have a date confirmed I will post a new invite.
In the mean time I have a booth at the TOUCH of CHRISTMAS FAIR on Saturday November 28th, in the New Life Church Building. See next post.
These beautiful ladies sacrificed a day's wages to tell us their story.
With your help, we can make a difference!