5 April 2018

Building Bridges in India

Our project, “Building Bridges” is a coalition between Enactus St. Mary’s and GMR Varalkshmi Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to empower underprivileged youth throughout India. We specifically work with their trade school in Bengaluru, India. Every spring break for the past three years, Enactus students traveled to Bengaluru to work with the women of the trade school. Our work focuses on promoting economic growth and gender equality through coaching these women on how to develop a business plan, helping them develop entrepreneurial skills. Ultimately, our goal is to help these women increase their self-esteem and strengthen their business and innovation skills.

Under the umbrella of this project, we have created a second project known as “Shanti Plants”. “Shanti Plants” focuses on funding the education of underprivileged youth in Bangalore, India. To achieve this goal, we developed an environmentally sustainable initiative that repurposes plastic waste. We collect glass and water bottles throughout the year on campus and re-use them to pot and sell plants. All profit we receive in return goes to the Ragpickers Education Development Scheme in the Marianist community Deepahalli in Bangalore which provides housing to orphaned and underprivileged children from the slums.

Throughout our trip, not only did we work to impact people’s lives in India, but the lives of our Enactus members were changed as well. Many of our members have lived very protected lives in the United States. Traveling abroad, seeing, experiencing and understanding the different issues that other parts of the world face has been an eye-opening experience for many of them. This experience has also served as a reassurance that what we do as an Enactus team is going to contribute greatly to the lives of the people participating in our projects, as well as our own.

Eyerusalem A. Debebe, St. Mary's University