In a significant act of collective giving, the Chicago Circle of Hope announced a grant of $40,000 to AIF’s MANSI program. Members of the Circle evaluated several proposals and collectively voted to expand MANSI’s proven Home-Based Newborn Care approach, focusing on reducing infant mortality rates in Haridwar district of Uttarakhand. The 12-month intervention will involve strengthening the capacity of Frontline Health Workers in home-based care of young children from the time of birth right till they are 23 months old. 90 district-level healthcare workers will be trained in basic healthcare and nutrition, who will then train other ASHA workers at the grassroot level.
The Chicago Circle of Hope, a women-to-women initiative comprising of 35 mothers and daughters in Chicago, represents the collective power of women learning, giving and leading together to build long-lasting positive change in India. Members learnt of the challenges faced by communities in India in the fields of education, health, and livelihoods and understood the importance of leveraging their gifts by combining people and resources to make a positive impact. The Chicago Circle is led by Masha Sajdeh, with Jasma Ghai and Rumki Dutta as co-leads. On the occasion, Masha says, “We’re excited at being able to contribute to reducing infant mortality in India. As mothers and daughters, sisters and friends, we are compassionate and committed women at every stage of life and career and want to a make a difference in the lives of women in India who don’t have the opportunities to a good education nor the access to health services or decent livelihoods. We are deeply grateful to the amazing 35 members of the Chicago Circle of Hope for making this possible.”
Circle of Hope began its journey in the fall of 2017,at the initiative of Farida Kathawalla and Nirmala Garimella from AIF’s New England Chapter. By the summer of 2018, their first grant was announced, directed towards empowering 100 women with disabilities in India through RAISEWISE, a first-of-its-kind project that imparts self-defense skills to women with disabilities. AIF’s Circle of Hope recognizes and focuses on gender equity on the ground in India.
AIF has established the Circle of Hope to inspire, educate, and empower women philanthropists through the power of collective giving, to positively impact the lives of underprivileged girls and women in India. Members are women of all ages and professions. Says CEO Nishant Pandey, “There is so much work yet to be done, and I believe the solution lies with women-powered philanthropy aimed at transformative change in India. Circle of Hope is an egalitarian, non-hierarchical, and inclusive concept of collective giving for women philanthropists who want to support programs and initiatives that address the needs of women and girls in India.”
Encouraged by the initial enthusiastic response in New England and Chicago, Circle of Hope looks forward to increasing its presence in other states in the US. Women have always contributed time and talent to their communities, it is a common thread running through women’s lives, which if well-woven, can emerge into a beautiful tapestry of hope. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world;indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
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