Transforming Community Through Selfless Acts
By Emma-Lee Luther with UPLIFT and The Hunger Project
The Stories of Sushila and Musi Dei
Sometimes the simplest steps can empower change and deliver unmeasurable outcomes for generations to come. By actively engaging in societal change at a grass roots level to produce capacity building outcomes for communities has been a focus of ‘The Hunger Project’s’ work across the planet. By enabling women to implement sanitation projects in their homes, in turn it has inspired them to become leaders in civil engagement not only in their own communities but in neighbouring towns as well.
UPLIFT has been looking to some of the great work being done in the world by people actively involved in servicing their community for the greater good. Supported by NGO The Hunger Project, we have discovered some extraordinary stories from across the planet where women have found a sense of purpose through giving back to their community. These selfless acts have inspired us in the spirit of co-creation for the benefit of all and highlight how small ripples can create big waves changing the face of fear to well being and the ability to access this sacred substance intrinsic to our very being.
Sushila built 1,200 indoor toilets in India. Imagine fearing sexual assault anytime you need to go to the toilet. This is the reality faced by too many women and girls in parts of India: they don’t have access to a toilet so they have to go into the fields to relieve themselves. Sometimes they even get up at 3am just because they are less likely to be molested or raped at that time.
Sushila is one of 83,000 Elected Women Representatives in India who has been trained by The Hunger Project. She is from a low caste and is not literate, but with the public speaking skills and self-confidence she learned, she took a stand for the safety – and health – of women in her local council area.
Sushila successfully campaigned to get toilets built inside 1,200 homes. Now, women are overwhelmingly safer in their daily routines because they don’t have to leave the house to use the toilet. As a result, disease and dysentery have also decreased. The actions of this one bold woman leader have had (and will continue to have) positive ripple effects for her fellow villagers.
Musi Dei's story
The power of a ferocious purpose! Musi Dei is non-literate and from one of the most marginalised castes.
After being trained by The Hunger Project, she was empowered to get 35 toilets built in her community of 45 houses and 17 new houses built for the poorest of the poor (of which she is a part, but she refuses to get a house before everyone else gets one!) - true leading through example.
Musi Dei shows us that we are never limited to nor defined by our circumstances, and armed with knowledge, support and a new belief in oneself (a shift in mindset) ANYTHING is possible.
How are you inspiring others to enact change? Every little step is part of a greater whole and it is important to realise that the very act of honouring water is an action in itself. We invite you to be a part of the change and join us for a global synchronised water blessing on March 19 from the bank of the Ganges River in India.
For more on Water, Women and the Bless the Water film please visit UPLIFT Connect www.upliftconnect.com
Emma-Lee Luther is the Alliance and Outreach Coordinator for UPLIFT.
Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.
This article appears in: 2016 Catalyst, Issue 4: International Women's Day & Transforming Aging