(Written for The Hunger Project – Australia)
The programs in our Epicentre communities change the lives of men, women and children in ways that are most valuable to their specific needs. Our village partners are empowered with knowledge and skills that help them create sustainable communities where systems of education, healthcare and sanitation are prioritized to help end hunger and poverty.
By empowering people with an education, they are mobilised to take action towards creating communities that will one day be self-reliant. Charged with the information required, they instigate change that leads to their desired vision of the future. As they make changes within their communities, the positive impact is felt by all and the community-held vision transforms to one of a future free from hunger.
Basanti Gameti (pictured above) , from India, is one of 14,065 elected women who brought education, healthcare and sanitation systems to her village in 2016. Because she is educated, she earned the support of her community and won the role of president of her Panchayat (village council). She aims to create a ‘thriving community and thriving people‘. As part of the untouchable (lowest) caste in India, Basanti understands the power an education has on an individuals’ life and is passionate about upholding the rights women and children have to an education. Her training with The Hunger Project has enabled her to study a degree, and she wants others in her community to have the same opportunities she has had.
Basanti and other village partners go out into their communities and educate people about proper healthcare, including the treatment and prevention of potentially fatal diseases, like HIV/AIDS, malaria and malnutrition. By sharing information about disease, people are encouraged to visit our healthcare centres where they can access; tests, immunisations, antiretroviral treatments, counselling and other healthcare services. As more people come to understand the health issues that afflict their communities, and how they can be treated and prevented, attitudes, stigmas and behaviours that perpetuate problems surrounding them begin to change, and incidences of diseases decline. Between 2001 and 2012 there was a 1.1 million decrease in the number of newly infected cases of HIV worldwide. With the right information, people learn to protect themselves and their families, a healthier society begins to emerge and the new community-held vision becomes one of strength and vitality.