When I was travelling in India with @worldvisionaus, there were two things that I found vital to have with me at all times. Water and hand sanitiser. I chose to buy and take with me the Thankyou brands for my staples. I'm bummed I wasn't at #pbevent to hear @thankyouaus speak yesterday as I've heard they were so inspirational!! 💕 I love that purchasing the Thankyou products provides real help and hope to others around the world that need it. Such an easy way for us to help make a real difference. Look out for the Thankyou products when you shop and swap to make a positive impact. #notsponsored #thankyou #makeadifference #everylittlebitcounts #wvabloggers #wvaindia

That big iron in the front there weighs 7 kilograms! @worldvisionindia gave these families irons so they could extend their laundry service to include ironing (another income opportunity). It's not a hand out though, they pay back 20% of the investment with their profits and then continue to earn and grow their business with continued support from World Vision. I think this is important to understand in how WV works. Just pure giving doesn't foster the sort of ownership that produces long term change. The communications manager said to me, "We always, always, always have in mind that we will leave the project one day, and the goal is to have the individuals and community self sufficient, empowered, equipped and able to own it before we leave." So an iron is just a portal. These irons hold hot coals in the centre and they stay hot for a good amount of time before needing to restock. They can be used anywhere (at home, a shop or at stalls) and they don't require electricity so that's not a stumbling block.
One mother spoke about how World Vision invested in her by giving her an iron plus sent her to a tailoring course so she could learn the skills of making clothes (like saris). She showed me her certificate with pride. She sews about 2-4 tops per day, and when her children are a bit older and are more self sufficient, she plans to set her goal to 10 tops a day. Great to hear her ambition!
A father spoke too, and thanked one of the local World Vision staff for taking so much time with his wife and how it's changed their perspective for their children. They now have hope! The staff member in question responded and said, "You can thank World Vision for that." And he said back again, "I thank you!" This is what has probably impacted me the most about the trip this time: just how much the staff who work closely with vulnerable people and build a relationship are adored and respected. But they take no credit! It's all about the people who are owning it, and working hard to better this family's future. Respect. #wvaindia #wvablogger @worldvisionaus

Rows and rows of drying washing. There are 356 families who live here and laundering as an occupation has been in these families for generations. They collect clothes from the surrounding residents and wash and dry the clothes. The mothers I spoke to here said they wanted more for their children. They didn't want them to be stuck in the same occupation. #wvaindia #wvabloggers @worldvisionaus @worldvisionindia

It was an honour to meet these courageous mothers who are fighting for a better future for their children. Empowering women has shown to be an effective way to affect change (and I'm not surprised). One way @worldvisionindia does this is by establishing Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the area. @learnwithplayathome asked one of the ladies how these groups typically form, and they said there are usually 2 or 3 that are really keen so it starts there, and then others who want to join can (up to about 15-20). Members have to want to be part of it (not forced) or it won't work. World Vision teachers them how to run it and offer support along the way but the members own it. World Vision is all about partnering, not just giving. It's about empowering, not controlling. So the onus is on the people being supported rather and that contributes to long term (true) positive change.

The SHGs meet monthly to discuss issues, and also put money aside as a group into savings. For example, one group explained they all put 100 rupees in each month, that's 15 of them, so 1,500 rupees is saved each month. This means the women have a pool of funds to access and don't need to go to the money lenders when unexpected expenses arise. Getting caught in a cycle with money lenders is a very big issue here. It's all very official. Members can't just loan money from the pool whenever. You have to apply for the loan, through the group process. The SHG discuss it together at the meeting, agree on the outcome and record everything carefully. As they explained it all, I could see what pride they take in their groups.
One group share they are doing so well, they are able to support the children's club with snacks, so they aren't just helping each other, but giving back to their community. These women have to fight so hard for their children to give them better futures, and they are. They are amazing. #wvaindia #wvabloggers

I've seen a lot of these bright pots around. When I chatted with one of the world vision staff, they said they use these pots because they only get a certain amount of water each day to use for everything: washing, cleaning, drinking etc.
Water is filled into tanks each week and rationed out amongst the residents each day. Just one of the many challenges faced by residents here. #wvaindia #wvabloggers

The women who live here face so many challenges every single day. I often feel overwhelmed with the enormous challenges that come with urban crowding. There seems no easy answer. I used to wonder if we just throw money at the problem, it will just go away, but it's not as simple as that. There are many complex issues here. Through decades of experience, @worldvisionaus developed certain projects that work well in these areas, and one is the importance of empowering the women. Empowering the women helps the children, and the children have better opportunities and break the cycle. Positive change is slow here from the outside looking in. But for the people who live here, changes like learning to save and getting out of the cycle of debt, taking parenting courses, receiving assistance to grow a business, it makes a big difference.
#wvaindia #wvabloggers

Don't underestimate the power of art as inspiration. This is something I learned today. The head mistress of a government school of 255 students (grade 6-10) in Chennai said one of the best things to come out of @worldvisionindia partnership with the school is the bright murals that decorate the rooms and buildings. Seems such a simple and insignificant thing (to me) but it's come up time and time again at different educational facilities World Vision works in. The head mistress explained three ways the artwork makes a difference.

1. It makes children feel part of the school. They are proud of their school, it's bright and lovely and has good facilities. This makes them feel part of it, and they are more likely to continue with their schooling.

2. It makes children curious. They ask questions; artwork opens up conversations and learning.

3. It motivates the children. Especially the portraits of the various freedom fighters that line the hallway walls. They are there, every day, as a presence singing out for justice, and kindness, and strength, and hope.
#wvaindia #wvabloggers @worldvisionaus

New post up on my blog. Thank you to those that have supported us on this trip. Means so much. Heading home today and I can't wait to seems family 😍😍 #wvabloggers #wvaindia (link in profile)

A final dinner with these three amazing women and then a quick photo with our mate Raj (India's favourite movie star apparently) #wvaindia #wvabloggers

When people have so little and yet want to buy and present you with roses because they're so grateful you've come to visit because they are so appreciative of the work of World Vision. #humbled #wvabloggers #wvaindia #chennai

And she wore jasmine in her hair. It's a wrap!!! 13 projects visited, thousands of kilometres travelled, minds blown, brain in overload and two sleeps until I am back with my babies. Hashtag blessed. Hashtag Namaste. #wvabloggers #wvaindia

Love these smiles.

This area has around 365 families running a cleaning collective that services hospitals, hotels and private laundries. They are collectively working towards their children getting an education that means never working in 'the washing business' #wvaindia #wvabloggers

These "Ironboxes" run on coals and weigh 7kilograms each. Owning their own irons has changed these families futures #wvaindia #wvabloggers

These women ❤️❤️❤️❤️ kick our butts when it comes to motivation and strength. #wvaindia #wvabloggers

Teachers at the schools and preschools we've visited are so thankful for the educational materials supplied by World Vision. They wanted to show me every single thing. I get it. I understood their excitement. It's the same excitement I feel about my materials. As a teacher, resources are important to engage the children and make learning hands-on and I can only imagine how difficult it would be to teach without them. Little things like this make such a difference and the teachers proudly point out the students in their classes that are sponsor kids, as it's through child sponsorship that this is possible.
#wvabloggers #wvaindia #education #kids #educationalmaterials #teachers #india @worldvisionaus @worldvisionindia

Here in the middle of these slums we were met by a beautifully set up tented area that blocked these surrounds, and an inspiring group of women who spoke to us with passion of their Women's Self Help Groups. These groups have been initiated by willing members of the community and trained by World Vision in order to make themselves financially independent and not relying on high interest money lenders that only continued a cycle of debt. The value of saving is a new concept to them and it is so clear that this shift is really starting to take hold and will only continue to benefit them and all the generations ahead as they continue to learn and be inspired from one another.
#wvabloggers #wvaindia #india #chennai #education #aid #financialindependence

Everybody knows the word #selfie. Ah Australia! You're awesome. #wvabloggers #wvaindia

This slum is home to three self help groups run by women who have implemented economic measures which are allowing them to run businesses, improve parenting and upgrade their children's educations. Seriously awesome ladies #wvaindia #wvabloggers

They say culture leads from the top and Chennai High, primary and kindergarten are very lucky to have this lovely lady as their headmistress #wvaindia #wvabloggers

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