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Hope Floats For ASHAs In Tripura
Saadia Azim

Sarodhan Malsom, 29, a mother of two from a small village in Dhalai district of Tripura, is very proud of her vocation. “ASHA means hope. And that is what I bring to the lives of so many in my community,” she says. Ummarium Reang, Nyantara Debram, Sanali Reang and Phulaiti Reang share Sarodhan’s enthusiasm and passion. But oftentimes this optimistic attitude takes a beating. Every year, with the onset of the rains, the land-locked northeastern state, which shares its border with Bangladesh, faces high risk of malaria outbreak. It’s been no different this time. Central to effective crisis management is this diligent workforce, which travels deep into the remote areas to conduct tests and subsequently transfer the serious cases to the nearest hospitals. But there are days when they are unable to handle the escalating number of patients or can’t find the money to transport them to a health facility and yet they forge on due to a strong sense of commitment. Of course, despite the challenges the women struggle to get their dues.

“Though I am trained to promote institutionalised deliveries I am now helping to combat malaria outbreaks. We have been trained to test the blood and report to the hospital. But in this terrain it is so difficult to ensure that people reach hospitals that are located very far off.”

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 WFS Ref: INDN723 1250 words

Fisherwoman Patricia Is Surrounded By A Sea Of Problems
Sreelekha Nair

From the spot where she was sitting by the roadside, Patricia got up in a huff. As she started to walk off, the woman who was bargaining with her called out: ‘Why are you leaving? Let’s work out a price. I need to buy fish as there is nothing for lunch at home.’ Patricia turned around and said, ‘Madam, I don’t want to fight but how can you expect me to sell my catch for less than what I paid the contractor for it? If you have to feed your children then so do I.’ Despite her rationale when the customer still insisted on negotiating a price Patricia had no choice but to give in. She knew that if she didn’t sell at her quoted price someone else would and Patricia couldn’t afford to lose the business… Life for fisherwomen along the Kerala-Tamil Nadu coast is like the rough seas – harsh and unrelenting. From dawn to dusk they persevere to keep their homes running and provide for their children as their husbands are either intoxicated or unconcerned. Sadly, their hardships remain unaccounted for and unacknowledged.

Said Mary, “It would be a welcome change if I didn’t have to shout at fish vending contractors in the morning, insensitive customers during the day and my husband and young son at night.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDN724 1100 words

Lifting The Curse of Child Malnutrition From Bidar
Pushpa Achanta

In 2000, countries around the world pledged to fulfill the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight time-bound targets to eradicate poverty and hunger and uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity. India, which is ranked 63 out of 81 countries on the Global Hunger Index, has been working towards finding workable solutions to a problem that especially affects children between 0 to 5 years. In the parched northern Karnataka district of Bidar, a community initiative to address child malnutrition in Aurad taluk is creating a roadmap for change. Through a slew of interventions, ranging from nutrition awareness drives to developing kitchen gardens and involving local farmers’ collectives to cultivate millets, cereals and other relevant foods, a marked transformation in the health indicators has been achieved. Of the 96 children that were identified as SAM (Severe and Acute Malnourished) in July 2013, 61 have become normal while 589 of the 641 moderately malnourished children have regained their physical wellbeing.

Gram Panchayats, Village Health Sanitation Committees (VHSC), School Development Management Committees (SDMC), Self-Help Groups and farmers’ collectives have joined hands to deal with the problem of malnutrition rampant in the region.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDN721D 1200 words

Exploring The Spiritual Traveller’s Connect With Ajmer
Humra Quraishi

Ajmer brings out the Sufi in even the most ordinary traveller that comes to this vibrant city located 130 kilometres from Rajasthan’s state capital Jaipur in the midst of the dusty Aravallis. After all, it is home to the shrine of the revered Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. A relatively tranquil morning usually gives way to a hectic afternoon as hoards of followers and excited visitors throng the ‘dargah’. What is it that pulls in such enormous crowds here? Is it the search for spiritual solace or mere curiosity? Or perhaps it is a combination of the two? Today, the world outside may be divided on communal or caste lines and ridden with everyday struggles for survival, but within the premises of his shrine Chishti’s brand of Sufism reigns supreme. There’s no talk of religion or politics, only human values and lots of hope.

As per tradition, twice everyday food is cooked in two huge ‘degs’ (cooking vessels) and distributed free to visitors at the dargah. It is said that that Mughal Emperor Akbar had presented one ‘deg’ while his son Emperor Jehangir had presented the other one.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDN725 1000 words

The Millennials Champion Social Activism
Elayne Clift

Who are the Millennials? Demographers use this term when referring to the children of baby boomers, adults in their late thirties and early forties. There are about 80 million of them in the US and they represent the last generation born in the 20th century. They are totally tech-savvy and quite socially conscious. Unlike their Boomer parents, Millennials want a healthy balance between work and family life and they make effective social activists and social entrepreneurs. Take, for instance, actress and filmmaker Kamala Lopez and her colleague Gini Sikes. They are producing a film called ‘Equal Means Equal’, a documentary about women’s equality covering issues like gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, immigration, religion and violence among the subjects discussed. Then there is Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley, the co-founders of Kiva, a non-profit with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

“We envision a world where all people - even in the most remote areas of the globe - hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: OPIN721 780 words
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