Aurora Humanitarian Project for UWC: Mahindra

Aurora Humanitarian Project for UWC: Mahindra

The Aurora Humanitarian Project for UWC Schools and Colleges (AHP) aims to encourage students from all UWC schools and colleges to set up or further develop service projects that tackle humanitarian issues geographically local or relevant to the ethos of the specific school or college. The AHP is part of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative which was set up to raise public awareness around humanitarian issues and was inspired by the stories of bravery, survival and compassion during the Armenian Genocide. Wanting to celebrate the strength of the human spirit and generosity a century later, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative wishes to recognise projects that demonstrate dedication to achieving meaningful impact - and since 2017 includes the AHP to focus on UWC schools and colleges. Three UWC colleges were chosen to proceed to the final round of the Aurora Humanitarian Project for UWC Schools and Colleges. The finalists are: Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa in Swaziland, UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany and UWC Mahindra College in India. Below is the executive summery of the project by UWC Mahindra College.

Kriyā Iron

Kriyā Iron has three goals: addressing the pressing issue of anemia in the rural areas surrounding the college, raising awareness of micronutrient deficiencies and other nutritional concerns, and empowering women to improve their own health. Kriyā Iron builds on the work of Kriyā: Empowerment Through Action, a student project promoting women’s empowerment through genuine challenges in the outdoors, culminating in a month-long Himalayan expedition. Since 2013, we have engaged with over 80 local young women. We will leverage these existing relationships to introduce our project into the local community. We take a holistic approach to tackling anemia, addressing it from three dimensions: preventive, curative, and social. We will use Lucky Iron FishTM ingots to directly address anemia, collaborate with local NGOs Akshara and Family Planning Association of India to drive forward a conversation about health and nutrition, and empower female participants in the process by placing the solution directly in their hands. Over the next four years, we aim to reach 220 families in twelve villages. By the end of the fourth year, we hope the project will have established the importance of micronutrients, and women involved will have shifted their diets to reduce the need for supplements.

Anemia is a blood condition, with effects ranging from fatigue to cognitive and developmental issues. Our focus is iron deficiency anemia, caused by insufficient intake of iron and other micronutrients required for iron absorption. In our context, anemia is also a gendered issue disproportionately affecting women due to menstruation and culturally propagated dietary patterns. We became aware of this issue when 100% of Kriyā participants tested anemic in 2013, and thus were unable to participate in the Himalayan expedition. Anemia affects 50% of women in the Pune district, directly impacting the communities around our college, including UWC Mahindra College staff and their families.

The biggest challenge we anticipate is resistance to change by the local community. There are a number of superstitions and misconceptions around iron intake and general nutrition that we will have to confront. In addition, food is a very intimate topic in our local context, and especially as outsiders, we expect difficulties in implementing change in such a personal aspect of daily life. We believe our project is well suited to overcome this challenge because of the close, trusting relationships we have developed with women through Kriyā, the direct involvement of two local facilitators and our partnerships with local NGOs.

The Aurora Grant money will go towards buying over 220 Lucky Iron Fish™ over the course of the next three years. It will also be used to buy educational materials and resources used to hold regular workshops on nutrition and health. Further uses of the Aurora Grant include health checkups with FPAI, the salary of our local facilitator Dipali Kangutkar and transport into the valley.

Team Members:

1. Maya Dayan - Israeli / American - 2nd year student

2. Kathryn Delgado - American - 1st year student

3. Ella Roy - German / French - 1st year student

4. Shruti Belitkar - Indian - 1st year student

5. Drusilla Talawa - Tanzanian - 1st year student

6. Marija Uzunova - Macedonian - Faculty supervisor

7. Cary Reid - Jamaican - Alumni Mentor (AC ’99)

8. Komal Bharam - Indian, (Mulshi Valley) - Local Facilitator

9. Dipali Kangutkar - Indian, (Mulshi Valley) - Local Facilitator

The project proposal by Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa is available here.

The project proposal by UWC Robert Bosch College is available here.