The following is a guest post from Karen Kayser a professor at University of Louisville.
During the WaterStep training, I met Ravi Jain, the founder of Shanti-Seva, an organization that provides financial support through micro loans for women in Shujalpur, Madhya Pradesh which is located in central India. Ravi Jain and I are combining our efforts to bring safe water to vulnerable women and their families across India.
We have completed a training at WaterStep, a Louisville-based non-profit that provides safe water to communities in developing countries. They taught us how to set up a simple water purification system and how to teach hygiene education in a culturally-sensitive way.
Since the tsunami, I’ve been working with Kalangarai in their efforts to assist these women and their children by helping to raise awareness about their plight, supporting their income-generating programs, and providing financial assistance for a facility to house their programs. In general, widowed and abandoned women in India have been treated as outcasts by society. They are among the poorest of the poor in India, especially if they are low-caste women. The mortality rates among Indian widows are nearly twice as high as those of married women in the same age groups. It has been inspiring to watch individual change grow into empowerment of a community. About 1700 widows have joined together and organized a movement to promote their basic human rights.
If you would like more information about our work with the widows or how you can support Kalangarai, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the plight of widows and the work of Kalangarai, go to: www.kalangarai-india.org