Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Girls Empowerment for Peace and Tree Planting for Sustainability

Project #
Wartburg College
  • Amit Prakash Bharam

Girls Empowerment for Peace and Tree Planting for Sustainability

Growing up in a village in western India’s Mulshi Valley, Amit Bharam saw how traditional wood-fired cooking helps to drive deforestation. He also saw, Amit writes, how “the entire female population, in a male-dominated society, has been suffering ... lacking access to basic information and care because of stigmas and religious beliefs associated with the female body, sexuality, and the menstrual cycle. Many girls drop out of school at puberty because of these issues.”

Both these issues were targeted with his two-part project. Working with the NGO Aksahra, based in nearby Pune at Mahindra United World College, he visited area nurseries and bought herbal plants, fruit trees and other small potted trees, all chosen for local sustainability and income-generating potential. He organized their planting at a local primary school, where students committed to caring for the plants as they grow to maturity.

Amit then worked with Aksahra and a local high school to present workshops for local girls and young women. Each was given a hygiene kit. A doctor and counselor presented and discussed information, he writes, about “the human body and major issues such as the female body, safe sex and menstrual cycle.”

Long-term, Amit hopes the planted trees will provide new support for poor families, while encouraging villagers to cook with gas and preserve the forest. He hopes the health workshops will help break through stigmas around the female body, encouraging girls and women to “become more driven, inspired and motivated to move their communities forward.”