Formed & Transformed
I am sure that 400 years ago, when Mary Ward said, “women in time to come will do much,” she was envisioning and working toward the development of initiatives that showcased women doing great things as they became the “seekers of truth and doers of justice” our world needs.
In the many remote villages of the Sundarbans mangrove in West Bengal, India, there are women who are living this Mary Ward vision. Using solar lanterns funded by MWIA, women are taking charge of their livelihoods and leading their communities toward living sustainably. Villages in this isolated area are plunged into darkness after sunset as harsh weather conditions like cyclones and floods hinder access to electricity – the solar lanterns are a source of hope and light for communities. The lanterns are used for everyday activity, and the women now use them to sew and embroider at all hours to generate an income to feed their families. One woman we met makes saris and sells them to feed her five grandchildren, who were abandoned by their parents.
Social justice, advocacy and community development work is not for the faint-hearted. It is rigorous, constant, and always evolving. It requires a relentless response to the needs of the time and place. It is done in collaboration with others to ensure that it is sustainable. I was privileged enough to spend two months volunteering with the Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre (KMWSC), where I experienced the leadership of women who have the power to transform their communities.
The Landing Pad project supported by MWIA educates and empowers women from informal settlements, the Sonagachi Red Light district, and several other villages to find their voice and stand up against the social stigma of menstruation. Women attend workshops on the importance of maintaining their health and hygiene and are given free menstrual pads and taught how to properly dispose of them. These women formed and transformed me; they have touched my life immensely with their leadership, courage and vision.
MWIA funds boundary-breaking projects that compel us to move into action, speak the truth, and ensure that justice is achieved. It supports women in claiming their dignity and freedom; to find their voice and place in their communities, ensuring that no woman or girl is left behind.
Author: Sr Jwan Kada ibvm