Safe Homes, Clean India

Safe Homes, Clean India

Stories From India
  In the evening gloom of their dirt courtyard, Saralamma and her two daughters are growing desperate. They last answered nature's call 13 hours ago, but it's not yet dark enough to venture into the fields. For generations, most of the 174  families in Gollapalli, Narpala, Anantapur, southern India have survived  without toilets. They've grown used to holding their bladders and bowels, being stalked by wild boars and snakes. In July 2016, the village decided that it was time to solve this challenge. The community development committee has prioritized the construction of 9 homes with bathrooms for the most marginalized families in the village. India leads the world in open defecation. More than 636 million Indians lack toilets, according to the latest census data, a crisis that contributes to widespread unsafe…
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The Power of Food to Lift Up Communities

The Power of Food to Lift Up Communities

Stories From India
The Vicente Ferrer Foundation USA celebrated a year of incredible achievements to empower rural communities in India with more than 300 event attendees committed to lifting up rural communities. The celebration included a keynote address from Merin Rajadurai, Chairman, Secretary of State Open Forum at U.S. State Department featuring the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). The theme of GES is “Women First, Prosperity for All”. Mr. Rajadurai shared the inspiring need to invest in women, not only so they can do better, but also so that countries can do better. VFF USA and GES empower innovators, particularly women, to take their ideas to the next level. ‘Recipe for Empowerment’ gave a platform to women’s security, prosperity, and peace. VFF USA is grateful to our amazing chefs Gregory Booth (The Kitchen at Blue…
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Women First, Prosperity for All

Women First, Prosperity for All

Stories From India
Rathna presides calmly over the Sangham, a women’s meeting group in her hometown of Thimmapuram. She has been their community leader since 1984, when it was one of the first established Sanghams. But this is a dramatic departure from where she first began. Married off at the age of 16, Rathna was not able to obtain her education. India holds the position of 4th worst country in the world to be a woman in; and it is not uncommon for women to receive little to no education and have no opportunity to earn an income. Vicente Ferrer saw the inequality of women’s rights and set up a program that would allow women to gain work skills and leadership posts. “I was elected unanimously to lead a Sangham after the first…
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Wishing for Clean Water

Wishing for Clean Water

Stories From India
Sreedevi is wishing for clean water for her village, and this dream is almost a reality. Ground has been broken on the water purification plant in her village of Pulaparti. For now she is doing her best to boil water for her family for drinking to keep it clean, but even boiling can not take out the harmful florosis in the water that causes bone deformities and arthritis like symptoms. “In the next couple of months, all of the water my family drinks will be clean and healthy. The best part is the task of getting water for me will now only take 10 minutes instead of an hour. I am looking forward to having more time to help my granddaughter with her school work as the journey for water…
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Dancing Without Limitations: Finding Adaptations to Overcome Anything

Dancing Without Limitations: Finding Adaptations to Overcome Anything

Stories From India
VFF USA supports children with disabilities for rich educational opportunities beyond the traditional classroom. Students with hearing and visual disabilities can participate in an adaptive dance program. You bring the joy of dancing to hundreds of children with us each year. “Dance is important to show children that their disabilities don' have to hold them back from opportunities”, says Sigi Rajasekhar, classical dance teacher at VFF. Depending on each child’s disability, different techniques are employed to help them adapt. For children with hearing impairments, a system of lights is used to signal music beats, while children with visual impairments rely on tactile cues from their instructors. Currently, VFF provides adaptive dance lessons to 235 students in primary and secondary school. [video width="1080" height="1080" mp4="http://www.vffusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/dancingirls.mp4"][/video]
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Anantapur Students Leave Lasting Impression On Georgetown Volunteer

Anantapur Students Leave Lasting Impression On Georgetown Volunteer

Stories From India
Pittsburgh native Henry Mihm served as a volunteer English teacher this summer at our Anantapur Sports Academy and Professional Language School. Thanks to a program through Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, he spent two months with us and was quickly beloved by students. Learning English is an important skill that dramatically opens up future career opportunities for someone growing up in rural India. Enhancing young people’s education in English is one of the many ways that we seek to empower India communities. As much as the students improved in this coveted skill, the learning wasn’t one-sided. Henry shares how he was deeply impressed by his students’ dedication. “I had class with these kids before and after their school every day, and just to see how enthusiastic they are even…
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“Como Se Dice Oportunidad?” How Studying Spanish Brought One Student a World of Opportunity

“Como Se Dice Oportunidad?” How Studying Spanish Brought One Student a World of Opportunity

Stories From India
In a story connecting two faraway places and dramatically different cultures, we are proud to share how our Professional Language School in Anantapur recently empowered one young student to embark on an exciting new career in another country. Since he was a child, 25-year-old Rakesh has dreamed of learning Spanish. But he never imagined that he would  master the language in such a way as to line up a job in Mexico City at a major global company. Rakesh was born in Settur, in Andhra Pradesh, where his father worked for VFF and instilled in him the importance of education. After high school, Rakesh studied mechanical engineering at a local university. He complemented this study by taking courses at VFF Professional Language School to gain skills in Spanish, English, accounting,…
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Educating Girls for a Better Future

Educating Girls for a Better Future

Stories From India
In rural communities of India, girls can face significant barriers to education, but 18-year old Varalakshmi was determined to prove to herself and her community that an education can be the most effective pathway to success. It was a proud moment for her entire family when she got accepted to the Jawaharlal Nehru University, becoming the only person in her family to ever to go to college. Getting this far was not easy. Varalakshmi’s remote community has an elementary school where she studied until 5th grade, but in 6th grade, she needed to travel to a nearby village about 3 miles away to continue her education. Her parents discouraged her from continuing her education, as it can be unsafe to travel alone. In 8th grade, VFF provided her with a…
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VFF’s Festival of Art Cultivates Creativity in Local Students

VFF’s Festival of Art Cultivates Creativity in Local Students

Stories From India
Each year Children's Day is celebrated across India to promote the rights, care, and education of children. Children’s Day – or Bal Divas as it’s called locally – celebrates the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. Jawaharlal Nehru is famous for many things, including as an iconic national figure who was once mentored by Mahatma Gandhi and went on to lead the Indian independence movement. Nehru was also renowned for his respect and admiration of children. He passionately believed that children represented India’s future and were the real strength and foundation of society. Nehru was fond of saying that children were like flower buds in a garden, who should be carefully and lovingly nurtured. Impressively, he did not discriminate children by gender. Nehru encouraged equal opportunities…
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