Our mission is to serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world. Drawing strength from our global diversity, resources and experience, we promote innovative solutions and are advocates for global responsibility. We facilitate lasting change by: Strengthening capacity for self-help Providing economic opportunity Delivering relief in emergencies Influencing policy decisions at all levels Addressing discrimination in all its forms Guided by the aspirations of local communities, we pursue our mission with both excellence and compassion because the people whom we serve deserve nothing less.
Apr 23, 2014

For the Love of School

She holds her brother in her arms as they make their way to school. They pass through a bushy footpath and at times they are forced to change when heavy rains have blessed the area. Her name is Ivy Kaundama, nine years old and the first born in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Clement Kaunda a farming family. 

Ivy and her seven year old brother, Clement Junior, go to Chimatiro primary and they are both in grade one. Ivy, who is repeating grade one for the third time in a row, has not become discouraged. Despite her difficulty in moving on to grade two, Ivy continues to dream of a bright future.   Walking a distance of 4.5 kilometers, or almost 3 miles, Ivy never gives up even if it means arriving late to school and being sent back, she will still wake up with hope and give it another try the next morning. 

Although Ivy is not sure of what she wants to be in the future, her parents keep on sending her to school to join her best friend Elube and other children from the same area; old and young. The voice of Grace Motiwa, her favorite teacher, makes her school time great experience. When she hears Join My Village has provided the school with books and has built a house and a school block she keeps on hoping that the distance being walked every day, the rains and her age will not keep her from attaining an education. 

Apr 23, 2014

Results Thanks to Your Gift

We had the opportunity to work closely with girls of the Udaan school in Mewat and the impact that JMV made there in the past year was on evident display at the community seminar held in May. Though the community there is strongly patriarchal and conservative, they broke the social norms for a day to see their little girls, studying at Udaan, showcase their learnings on the school campus.

Another inspiring story that I came across was of Chanchal Srivastava, a KGBV student in Mehsi block of Bahraich. This class 7 student lost her father at a young age and her eldest sister took it upon herself to educate her 3 younger sisters. All four sisters not only continue their education but also take care of the family land in their village.

Just like Chanchal and her sisters, the girls of the Ekta adolescent groups too act as role models for others in the community. The group, whose members I met this summer, is made up of a unique mix of girls. Together these girls not only stopped child marriages in their own and other villages, they also ensured that girls remained in school and did not drop out. Almost all the girls, despite their tender age, had started contributing to their family’s welfare in some way or another, be it by serving as a singing star in a local village musical troupe or filling in for a priest at a wedding. 

As India was deeply shaken by  some high profile cases of violence against women this year, JMV played its own role in addressing issues of gender equity . While interacting with male JMV participants I came across Manoj and Raju. Both men, in their 30s, did not shy away from admitting publicly that they were actively involved in taking care of their children and helping their spouses as well as their parents. Talking to them made me realise that change is a personal choice and has nothing to do with rural or urban upbringing/lifestyle.

Apr 23, 2014

The Difference Freedom Makes

Freedom or lack of decides the direction your life will take. Saifunisa and her elder sister Hadinusha are a proof of this. Both the sisters, along with their five brothers, live with their parents in Batehra village of Shravasti. Still in their teens, the girls’ lives are a study in extreme contrasts. I met them at the monthly meeting of the Ekta adolescent group—one of the groups in which JMV implements its Girls’ Leadership Program.
Saifunisa has been with JMV since it came to her village a year ago. She attends all the meetings and brings in other girls from her neighbourhood as well. Saifunisa, or Saifu as she is called by friends, is studying in class 10 at a nearby college and, in the last few months, has started teaching at a school that her father started.
Her confidence—a trademark of all of the young women who participate in JMV’s adolescent girls groups—was evident. Saifu greeted me with a handshake and introduced herself. 
“We have been having meetings at the village for over a year. I have seen the change in myself and the other girls. They are so much more confident now,” she tells me. 
Saifu wants to complete her graduation and work as a teacher. “Teaching at my father’s school is sort of a practice for me. It keeps me abreast with my course.”
I was stunned to find out that while her younger brothers were all studying, her elder sister never went to school. In fact she was married off at a young age.
Surprised, I wanted to know more about her sister but Saifunisa had to go back to school to teach.
Within five minutes of her leaving, another girl came to the meeting with her friend. She was peeping from behind the door and seemed unsure whether to enter or not.  The shy girl was Saifu’s sister Hadinusha, who had overheard Saifu tell her mother that someone had come to meet the girls. 
Hadinusha had gone through unimaginable trauma. A child bride, she became a teen mother when due to her young age and improper care, she lost her son a few months after he was born. The young mother was trying to come to terms with her loss, when her in-laws decided she was of no use to them and dumped her back at her parents’ home.
Hadinusha spends her day taking care of her parents and siblings. The only time she leaves home is to buy groceries. The school her father owns runs out of her home but she has never set foot in it. She doesn’t even know the letters of the alphabet.
Doesn’t she feel left out when she sees Saifunisa go to school to study and then teach other kids? 
“Education was not an option for me. How can I regret something I never knew? The only thing I miss is the fact that she can talk to city people like you more confidently and I can’t,” said Hadinusha.
“I knew about the JMV meetings and Saifu used to attend them but I felt ashamed coming here since the girls here are all studying and much younger than me. Today I convinced my friend to come along because I really wanted to see what goes on here,” she says.
“I didn’t know we could sing here and dance too. These girls have also performed a play as I found out today.” 
So will she now come to the meetings with Saifu? “Not really. I’ll never have the kind of freedom she has to move around. My father will never agree to it,” she said.
“How come Saifu has the freedom to come here and you don’t?” I asked her.
“Saifu is stronger I guess. She can fight for what she wants, I can’t,” she whispers. She stares at the ground when I ask her why.
When I ask her if I can take her photos, Hadinusha refuses. I show her Saifu’s photos and her reply is, “Oh she can get her photos clicked. If I do the same, I will never be allowed out of home again. I am married you know.” 
I didn’t want to force her so I let it be. 
One sister took her freedom and soared, the other remains caged by social pressure.
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