Tuesday, January 29, 2013

FSD and Partner Building a Home for HIV+ Orphans in Jodhpur

According to the United Nations Population Fund, close to 2.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in India. Unfortunately, the social stigma of being HIV positive is so great that people living with the disease suffer both economically and socially. In Jodhpur, one of FSD’s community partners is addressing HIV in the community. Jodhpur Network of People Living with HIV Sansthan, or JNP+, seeks to address denial, stigma, and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS through advocacy. In 2010, FSD Intern Sophia Davis partnered with JNP+ to start the BAL BASERA Holistic Child Care Home in Jodhpur.

With additional funding from an FSD Traveling Giving Circle, the home had its official inauguration in August of 2010. This November, Sophia revisited JNP+ and BAL BASERA and was excited to see how much the home has expanded since 2010. The home serves 23 children who are living with HIV, providing them with daily medicine, food and schooling—and even providing the opportunity to attend cultural activities.

Of her experience, Sophia writes: “It was remarkable and humbling to see how much growth has taken place since 2010 and the true love and dedication the JNP+ staff has for the children…The location they are currently situated in is a spacious facility and the children are receiving the resources they need to have a sustained livelihood for a prosperous future, even when affected with HIV.”

We are proud of the fine advocacy work of partner JNP+ and look forward to seeing continued growth of the facility in the coming years.

Friday, January 25, 2013

FSD's Partner Exerting Influence on Key Issues in Nicaragua

With the support of FSD Intern Diana McKeage, microfinance partner, Association for Equitable Economic Development (Alternativa) is using collaboration and communication to bolster development efforts among organizations in Masaya, Nicaragua. Alternativa won an FSD grant for $739 to facilitate three collaborative forums on community development issues in the area. Alternativa will bring together 10 local development organizations for three forums to discuss the following themes, respectfully: 1) export consortia and associative work, 2) influence of public policy, and 3) child labor.
Local development organizations came together for a similar conference “Problems and Perspectives of Local Development” in Masaya in January 2011, and progress made will be reviewed in the upcoming forums. While the conference of 2011 worked with $5,000 in donated seed money, a goal of these new forums is to develop projects and initiatives requiring no foreign funding, such as educational programs or proposals to the municipal government. This reflects an alignment and shared vision of Alternativa and FSD to promote locally sustained programs.
Alternativa is a well-known development organization in the Masaya community that offers micro-credit programs and capacity-building workshops. They firmly believe that multilateral communication between organizations dedicated to community development is essential to their progress. In a country like Nicaragua, where 46.2% of the population lives at or below the poverty line, this type of coordination can make a huge impact on the methods and outcomes of development projects. Alternativa is a longstanding FSD partner and has received numerous grants for their outstanding work, including a grant from a $72,000 microfinance program funded by The Rotary Fund and administrated by FSD that is starting up sustainable community banks to provide low-income communities access to critical capital for income generation and poverty alleviation.

Monday, January 21, 2013

FSD Award-winning Grass-root Partners in India- JBF & Rupayan Sansthan

On December 5th, two of FSD’s community partners in India were presented with state-level Dalmia Awards, which honor work in water conservation and the environment. Rajasthani Governor Margaret Alva presented the awards to Kanupriya Harish of Jal Bhagirathi Foundation (JBF) and Kuldeep Kothari of the “Arna-Jharna” museum, operated by Rupayan Sansthan. Ms. Alva commended their use of community initiatives in the conservation of water and the environment, emphasizing the importance of community-based action as a supplement to government assistance. This prestigious honor awards a first prize of Rs. 1,00,000 in cash and eight consolation prizes of Rs. 11,000.

FSD partner Jal Bhagirathi Foundation was honored with the top prize in recognition of its scientific methods for water supply and its campaign highlighting the local issue of pasture land, check-dams and boundaries of agricultural fields. Since 2002, JBF has worked to implement community-based approaches to water management that improve the access of local communities while increasing participation and representation of women and disadvantaged groups. Ms. Alva echoed these goals at the awards ceremony, calling for an end to the traditional practice of women traveling long distances to retrieve water and advocating the supply of water through taps in each house.
We are equally proud to announce that Rupayan Sansthan was awarded a consolation prize for their work on the conservation and discovery of the oral history of Rajasthan through the ‘Arna-Jharna’ museum. Since their establishment in 1960, Rupayan Sansthan has researched and archived folk tales and folk songs to promote the richness of the Rajasthani language and indigenous knowledge. The museum not only showcases their collection but, in the words of Kuldeep Kothari, “celebrates the traditional knowledge systems of the desert linking everyday cultural practices to larger ecological concerns which reflect through its unique design and architecture done by local people.” The facility itself collects rainwater in a stone quarry-turned-reservoir, supporting ethno-medicinal plants and staple crops that now cover the surrounding mountains. The museum space has been covered with greenery and is a habitat for birds and animals in a celebration of desert life.
The extraordinary efforts of these two partner organizations truly embody Governor Alva’s message at the awards ceremony. She emphasized the need for a collective effort by government agencies, civil society and voluntary groups to ensure availability of drinking water for the next generation. While she urged government employees to take interest in public welfare, tree plantation, the construction of toilets and agricultural techniques, she called upon the villagers to not depend solely on the government for water supply and take up community-based solutions to these problems.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fundación Pro Hábitat and FSD Brought a Reliable Source of Water to Cochabamba Bolivia

Water scarcity remains a deeply rooted and unresolved issue in Cochabamba, Bolivia and families—many with female heads of households—struggle with a limited ability to access and store clean water. In the rural community María Auxiliadora, outside of Cochabamba, water delivery to this dry region is both vital and unreliable. Families depend on a delivery truck to pump water into small storage containers that are easily contaminated. Luckily, a pilot program started by the community organization Fundación Pro Hábitat, and supported by FSD Intern Manuela Vasconcelos, is changing the tide.
Fundación Pro Hábitat is committed to improving living conditions of low-income families in rural areas of Cochabamba. An FSD partner for over ten years, Pro Hábitat builds the capacity of socially and economically marginalized families through workshops on environmentally friendly resource management, including water conservation and construction of sanitation systems. In partnership with Pro Hábitat  FSD Intern Manuela implemented a project to target water management in María Auxiliadora. A Brazilian-American student in her senior year at the University of San Francisco, Manuela participated in a ten-week internship with FSD in Cochabamba through USF’s Sarlo Scholars program. The Sarlo Scholars program afforded Manuela the opportunity to receive extensive community development training with FSD prior to her departure, during her orientation, and throughout the internship.
Manuela built relationships with local leaders and eventually received an FSD intern grant, in addition to her seed grant, to develop plans to build a low-cost water tank system. The Pileta Pública project was conceptualized through a community-based approach with the objective of improving access to clean water in the community. The low-cost water tank holds 5,000 liters and incorporates appropriate technologies for the zone. As a pilot-program project, the tank was constructed with materials Manuela purchased under the supervision of Pro Hábitat and the enthusiastic Enrique Canaza, a water technician and community member.
Mauricio Ramirez, FSD’s Program Director in Cochabamba, recently visited María Auxiliadora and photographed the progress of the water tank project. The tank currently provides 18 families (approximately 70-90 people) with water for cooking and other household uses. During her stay, Manuela organized several workshops on the proper use of water and its impact on health and personal hygiene. She also organized a fundraising campaign to provide children in the community with reusable water bottles as an incentive to drink water as a daily habit. This important project is a great example of a low-cost, high-impact initiative utilizing local materials and labor.
Upon her return, Manuela continued her involvement with FSD by interning at the San Francisco office. She is passionate about development work and hopes to continue her involvement with FSD. In her own words: “I believe that connecting people around the world with the same vision and passion can promote innovative opportunities for sustainable development.” FSD is proud to continue our support for Fundación Pro Hábitat in their efforts to improve health and sanitation in rural Bolivia.