Donna Laveriere (India)

Donna Laverdiere (Butterflies, India): Donna grew up in a small town in Maine and received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Tufts University. After college, she spent three years in the publishing industry, and then worked for AT&T and Cadillac. During this time Donna was heavily involved in political organizing on women’s issues and helped found a nonprofit privacy rights organization. At the time of her fellowship, Donna was pursuing her Master of Public Policy at Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, with a focus in global policy.

A Drop in the Bucket

13 Jun

It is impossible for me to effectively describe the sheer size of the problem of poverty in Delhi. Riding along in an auto rickshaw a few days ago with another educator at my NGO, I was asked about unemployment in the U.S. I told him the rate is usually around 5%. His eyebrows shot up. “5%? In India, 75.” “Really?” I asked. “Really. People are pleased to have work,” he said.

I turned my head and looked out the side of the rickshaw at the sights I see every day as I speed around sitting in my privileged seat: babies wandering on sidewalks, dirty and naked; small children sleeping in twos and threes in the hot sun on the hard cement next to busy intersections: mothers with missing limbs walking up to me, motioning with their hands to indicate they need food for their children. I complain about the heat in my apartment while these women and children lack roofs and drinking water.

Most people I am in touch with back home constantly ask me, “What’s it like over there? Do you feel good that you are helping? Do you think you’re making a difference?” These are hard questions to answer. When you see thousands of children outside working as rag pickers, shoe-shiners, and tea stall workers, it is hard to think anything anyone does can make a difference. The sheer magnitude of the problems seems insurmountable and to many here, even commonplace. They have accepted the realities they face.

It is a struggle not to get discouraged. But, without each drop in the bucket of development, how can any progress be made? And if all these people that I meet see benefit in adding their own drops to the mix, mustn’t something be gained from the work? Here at Butterflies, I will write some proposals for programs and grants, and will offer whatever help I can. And it will be swallowed up in the sea of efforts being made all over India.

Posted By Donna Laveriere (India)

Posted Jun 13th, 2006

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