Care Across Communities collaborates with local grassroots organisations in target communities across the world to tackle issues such as education, poverty and sanitation and work towards a fairer society for all.
Keep reading to find out how Onaway’s seed funding has made a vital difference to this young organisation and its beneficiaries.
Care Across Communities is a UK-based grassroots organisation whose aim is to create a better and fairer world by addressing the key needs of impoverished and marginalised communities globally. Since its foundation in early 2021, the charity has been busy carrying out projects in areas such as healthcare, sanitation, nutrition and education for disadvantaged and indigenous communities in developing countries. Care Across Communities hopes to prevent and relieve poverty by working closely alongside local people and organisations, forming supportive networks which beneficiaries can rely on to help them build a more hopeful future.
Care Across Communities currently has hubs in countries such as Bangladesh and Uganda, places home to many indigenous and otherwise underserved groups who battle with numerous hardships on a daily basis. In Bangladesh in particular, certain groups suffer disproportionately due to South Asia’s hierarchical caste system which classifies certain groups such as the Shabdakar as Dalits or ‘Untouchables’, meaning they belong to the lowest social category. Due to this status, these communities face many social, economic and personal difficulties, with discrimination and injustice leading to a lack of job opportunities, sanitation and basic rights such as clean running water and equal access to healthcare and education.
As the sole breadwinners of the family, women of the matriarchal Garo community face additional pressures as they balance poorly paid work in beauty parlours with parenting responsibilities. In addition to being laid off due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many of these women leave their jobs when they have a child as they cannot afford childcare, making it difficult to provide basics such as food and education for their families and perpetuating the poverty cycle. Furthermore, the rural population lacks both the awareness and resources to prioritise safe sanitation and hygiene practices, leading to illness and water-borne diseases.
The Onaway Trust has played a key role in the early impacts of Care Across Communities, providing vital seed funding to some of the organisation’s first projects. In August 2021, Onaway provided funding for a sanitation and hygiene project to be carried out in the Moulvibazar district of the Sylhet region in north-eastern Bangladesh.
Moulvibazar is home to the Shabdakar, a disadvantaged and marginalised community who have access to neither safe drinking water nor basic toilets and hygiene facilities. With Onaway’s funding, and working in partnership with local grassroots organisation MAC Bangladesh, the charity was able to build latrines for 20 impoverished Shabdakar families living across two remote villages.
In addition to this, the families were able to participate in sanitation awareness programmes teaching them how to clean the latrines as well as of the importance of maintaining good hygiene and the issues associated with poor sanitation, including disease, contaminated drinking water and environmental pollution. The participants were also provided with cleaning supplies for this purpose, giving them the chance to build and practise the good hygiene habits they had learned.
This project has shown very promising benefits for the families involved as well as for the wider community, with a significant decrease in water-borne diseases and other illnesses among the families using these new latrines. This has demonstrated the power and importance of good hygiene practices not only to the beneficiaries, but also to the other villagers, many of whom are now asking for latrines of their own due to recognising the benefits of better sanitation.
The latrines themselves were built with the help of some of the project’s beneficiaries, increasing social inclusion and further encouraging the community’s investment in their maintenance. Overall, the project has improved the health, wellbeing and quality of life of the community, who are now stronger and more united through the sharing of their new knowledge and resources.
“The Onaway Trust has made a huge positive change in the lives of the Shabdakar community.”Care Across Communities
In December 2021, Onaway made a further donation for an education project benefitting the children of the indigenous Garo and Tripura peoples, as well as of marginalised mainstream Bengalis, in the districts of Mymensingh and Bandarban, Bangladesh. Often members of these communities leave school early to start work in beauty parlours or as Jhum (slash and burn) cultivators, low-income jobs which leave them unable to afford their own children’s education and further perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
Many of these parents struggle to pay for the basic essentials, such as stationery, needed for their child’s education, not to mention the technology and internet connection which allowed more fortunate children to continue their studies during the pandemic. As a result, indigenous children miss out on the essential education that those of us in western countries often take for granted as a basic human right.
The grant provided by Onaway has allowed Care Across Communities to provide essential stationery items to 300 indigenous and marginalised primary school pupils for a year. It is hoped that supplying the children with equipment such as pens, pencils, notebooks and schoolbags will motivate them to learn and encourage them to continue their education, while making it easier for the children’s parents to send them to school without worrying about the expense.
The Onaway Trust is proud to be partnering with such a promising new organisation in order to help make a positive impact on the lives of those most in need. To find out more about the work of Care Across Communities, including how to donate, please follow the link below.