Photography by Crystle Mazurek Image by: Photography by Crystle Mazurek
The response: Back home in Canada, Mazurek thought of ways to help. Disenchanted with the bureaucracy and administrative apparatus of big charities, Mazurek created the India Village Poverty Relief Fund (IVPRF), which delivers funds directly to her contacts in the Indian state of Punjab.
On a five-figure annual budget, IVPRF delivers aid in three ways.
• Scholarships for needy schoolchildren so they can enter professions. Last year, IVPRF supported 501 students from JK to Grade 12, plus 11 college students. Two-thirds were female, in a culture in which child brides are common and less than half of all adolescent girls attend secondary school.
• Mobile training centres to teach uneducated women to become seamstresses. At the end of a six-month training program, each participant gets a sewing machine to keep. Last year, 238 young women were enrolled.
• In a new initiative launched in 2013, six impoverished girls aged 14 to 16—each at high-risk of early marriage—were given a baby buffalo. Their families agreed not to marry the girls off until the buffalos reach five years of age, at which time they will be worth $1,000 each, a huge sum in a country where the per capita gross national income is just US$1,410 (by comparison, Canada's is US$45,560). The deal buys the girls a few more crucial years of childhood.
Twelve years later, IVPRF is still essentially a one-woman charity. Last year it pulled in $32,500 in donations, 92 percent of which went directly to projects.
Help girls and young women in India work towards a brighter future. Visit IndiaVillageFund.org.
To learn more about International Women's Day, check out our State of the Sisterhood project.
|This story was originally titled "Building a Brighter Future For Girls in India" in the March 2014 issue. |
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