"My name is Gwendolene Mugodi and I am a writer and the founder of Paivapo Storytellers, a movement that aims to provide better access to local, good quality literature to the children in Zimbabwe--and eventually beyond. Our work would not be complete without the help of local artists like Abel Zvorufura who I met through the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. As two different artists we spent about a month and a half going back and forth on this book until we got to a place we were both happy with. I look forward to sharing that full book in a few months, but for now here's a little bit about Abel and why he does what he does."
Cognizance Amidst the Clamor
As monsoon rains welcome July into Gujarat, India, I find myself returning to my family's Baroda home from a week of living on a mango, guava, and lemon farm in Mota Fofalia, a rural village with an NGO (Shakti Krupa) that manages a school and community health center for the surrounding villages. While I was completely unsure and anxious as to what exactly I would be doing this summer when I left Brown for the semester, I really feel that my decision to come to Baroda and develop my project in this NGO and community was, in a way, meant to be. Much of the time, things are neither easy nor comfortable: power comes and goes as it wishes, roads can collapse with just a few inches of rain, administrative and weather hurdles can make work slow, medical records are unorganized and sometimes non-existent, and I constantly find myself in situations where I am the "foreigner" who knows little about the way things work here. Yet, each day I attain an abundance of valuable insight and knowledge from this community.
When I'm not living in the village, I commute by a bus that takes doctors, teachers, and nurses from Baroda to and from the village school and clinic each day. The 6am bus ride is anything but dull. No one sits quietly to read or listen to music; rather, everyone talks to each other as one big group, and when needed, help the bus wade its way though the waterlogged roads. India pulses with an energy different from anywhere else I've been: children screaming and playing, mothers insisting they "be careful" and "come inside," fruit and vegetable hawkers vocally advertising the freshest supply of produce, customers haggling with them, car and motorbike horns warning pedestrians and cows, ricksha engines blaring, radios playing both old and new tunes, birds singing along, cows mooing territorially, and dogs and monkeys yelping mischievously in the distance. All of this at once first seemed like chaotic clamor, but I know realize that all this "chaos" is India's way of staying connected with each other: with neighbors, with people who help them such as ricksha-drivers, and with the community at large. I think that now, I truly understand the meaning of community.
These daily interactions that teach me the true meaning of community are integral to my ability to help build community to improve child malnutrition in Mota Fofalia. Although the community health center operates a nutritional rehabilitation center for severely malnourished children, there is no consistent communication between the clinic and mothers of the children who have been treated at the clinic, resulting in preventable deaths and disabilities even after treatment. As we - two nurses from nearby villages and I - work to develop a community-based follow-up and counseling program for the villages, home visits to malnourished children to follow up on them allow me to understand why malnutrition is so prevalent and to ensure our follow-up and counseling program will be well-received by this community.
Meeting families also reminds me of why I am here in the first place. With my expectations of meeting the goals I set for this summer, along with overcoming obstacles that I meet along the way, I must be mindful of exactly why I am here, why I am doing what I am doing, and how the people of Mota Fofalia, especially mothers and families or severely malnourished children, feel about it. Being as cognizant as I can about why I am here proves to be both assuring and energizing.
August 11, 2016
June 13, 2016
Lauren Maunus '19 is starting a bold new venture.
Its goal: To help eliminate food waste and bring healthy, affordable food to "food swamps" in Rhode Island and beyond.
March 15, 2016"If little girls like me were saying Barbie is the pretty one and the brown one is the ugly one, that's a problem."
Yelitsa Jean-Charles studies Illustration at RISD with a a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. She identifies as a visual activist, and believes that artists have a responsibility as society’s image-makers. Her doll company and book series, Healthy Roots, combats internalized racism and colorism by getting to the root of the problem: altering beauty standards and cultviating self-love for young girls through education, diversity, and positive representation.
March 12, 2016An Excerpt
Mina is a Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellow. She traveled to her home in Iran last summer and brought back a cultural souvenir: the book she wrote, Taste of Culture. She explores Iranian families, streets, stores and the stories and spirit embedded in the recipes of Iranian food. She hopes to start a conversation about the benefit of knowing cuisines of different cultures to connect societies.
This year's class of Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellows have just begun their yearlong foray into the world of social entrepenuership. Check out their projects here.
December 16, 2015
Ria is a 2015 Social Innovation Fellow and co-founder of No Country for Women (NCFW), an internationally-recognized gender education initiative that aims to combat systemic gender-based discrimination in India. Ria and her co-founder, Shreena Thakore ’16, who grew up in India, were awarded the Projects for Peace fellowship and used this grant to launch the project in May of 2014. NCFW was set up to educate the people in India on gender, rape culture, and misogyny through a series of workshops and initiate informed discussions about social change.
I was inspired by Ria’s story because she was determined to start a conversation about an issue in a country that fights hard to keep such issues silent and hidden. We reflected on Ria’s experiences, her interactions with young people, most of whom had never thought about this obvious form of discrimination before, and her moments of self-doubt and extreme conviction.
October 2, 2015