Save the Children: “Bringing healthcare to the Doorstep” in the slums of Delhi

India, the second most populous country in the world, is known for her rich, vibrant culture and civilization that has spanned thousands of years. Over the last two decades, India’s economy has grown at breakneck speed becoming the world’s 10th largest economy in 2011 and is projected to be among the fifth largest by 2050 (per a recent report by economic think-tank Centre for Economics and Business Research).  Yet despite the enormous economic success of the “Elephant“, as India has been sometimes called, tragically a large percentage of the Indian population have been left behind.

Millions of Indians live in dire poverty especially the people who have left the villages and have come to the urban centers searching for a better life. According to the World Bank, rural and urban poverty in India remains painfully high, holding the unfortunate record of having the largest concentration of poor people in the world: 240 million rural poor and 72 million urban poor.  With poverty, an immeasurable suffering has also taken hold. Hunger, malnutrition and a high level of preventable diseases and death have struck India’s poor and have unfairly impacted women and children.

Indian girls inside a Delhi slum

Smiling and hopeful Indian girls within a Delhi slum are sadly thin.

Child Labor, Marriage, Education and Survival Global Health Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises India Poverty SOCIAL GOOD TRAVEL BY REGION

A Girl called Braveheart: India’s broken heart

They called her Braveheart, a name that symbolizes a fighter. People have also called her Fearless and India’s Daughter.  Due to Indian law, the real name of a rape victim is withheld from the press. For some reason the name Braveheart seemed to stick.

Months after her tragic, horrifying death Delhi’s Braveheart continues to tear away at Indian society and many Indians’ cry for change. Braveheart’s December 16th gang rape on a moving bus has gained worldwide attention, outrage and grief. Further high-profile rapes such as the recent rape of a Swiss and American tourist have continued to push the not so pretty truth about the status of women in India into the forefront. Meanwhile, India’s tourist industry has been reeling with a 35 % decline in female tourists for the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year (Source: Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India).  It is evident that foreign women travelers are concerned about the dangers of traveling to a place with such a tarnished reputation for women’s rights and safety.

In a country where a rape is reported every 21 minutes, and gruesome rapes of young children are inundating the news, you would think that it would be enough to push for societal and governmental change. Yet has anything really truly changed for the millions of women in India and around the world who are faced with violence, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, neglect and unworthiness every single day of their lives?

Indian Women in Delhi

Global Issues India Poverty SOCIAL GOOD TRAVEL BY REGION Women and Girls

The World Through My Eyes

Traveling the world with a third-eye has always been the way I prefer to experience life. It means to view life openly and see everything – good or bad- with an open mind and heart. The world through my eyes can be contradictory and complex. Seeing both good and bad can bring so much immense joy and happiness while also such deep sadness that it makes your heart ache. Yet in my humble opinion, you cannot go through life with a blind eye. Otherwise nothing will change.

On my most recent trip through the Delhi slums as part of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, I saw a tremendous amount through my eyes. If I could look beyond the immense poverty, destruction, destitution and disease, I could also find beauty and hope. Beauty in the lovely warm smiles across the children’s eager faces whenever I pulled my camera out to snap their photo. Hope among the innocent faces of the girls in schools finally being given a chance to learn.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The world through my eyes sees so incredibly much.








This post was written in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: The World Through My Eyes. To view more entries, click here.

Global Issues India Poverty SOCIAL GOOD TRAVEL BY REGION

The Colorful Curves of Jama Masjid

Within the chaotic narrow streets of Old Delhi lies the largest mosque in India, the Jama Masjid, whose enormous courtyard has the capacity to hold 25,000 devotees.  Built between 1644 and 1658, this sensational mosque was the last extravagnance commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, whose love for his wife resulted in the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra and zest for beauty and power built the Red Fort of New Delhi.

The Jama Masjid’s spectacular beauty resides in her masterful architecture of various curving archways, gates, minarets, towers and decorative carvings. Jama Masjid’s brilliant red-hued sandstone juxtaposed against white marble is equally as impressive especially on a sunny, bright day. It took over 6,000 workers, mostly slaves, to build the mosque and today it remains one of India’s crown jewels and an important place of worship.

Jama Masjid


Protsahan: Giving hope to India’s children

There are moments in life when you are so deeply moved by what one person can do to make a difference in the world that it takes your breath away. This is how I felt when I met Sonal Kapoor, founder of Protsahan, a school for underprivileged girls in the heart of India. Not even thirty years old, Kapoor is already considered one of the most inspiring young social entrepreneurs in the world and after a visit to her beautiful school in the slums of Delhi, it is no doubt that she and her pupils will go far.

Sonal K-004

Many are aware of the huge inequities and poverty strangling India. Although India has seen rapid economic growth over the last decade, the gap between rich and poor has become even wider and more profound. As migrant families leave their villages in rural India and come to the big cities in search for a better life, the growth of urban slums, many in deplorable conditions, continues to grow at unmanageable rates. In just Delhi alone, there are thousands of them. (The slum population in India is estimated at 62 million people and around 1.7 million residing in Delhi alone. Source: The Hindu). As almost 75,000 migrants come to Delhi alone each year, many of them end up populating the already over-crowded urban slums that can be found all throughout the city, even alongside some of Delhi’s poshest neighborhoods. (Source: The Hindu). 


An all to frequent site within the Delhi slums: Garbage and the sacred cow.

Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises India Poverty SOCIAL GOOD TRAVEL BY REGION
Indian Women in Delhi

The feet of India

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”. – Khalil Gibran 

For some reason, when I was in India I became rather obsessed with photographing feet. Feet were everywhere and on full display. Perhaps it was the insanely high temperatures that scorched the skin like fire that lead so many to simply remove their shoes. Or else the Indian custom of removing ones shoes before entering a building or a temple, which unveiled so many glorious, diverse bare feet. Whatever the reason, I became mesmerized by all the variations of beautiful feet I saw in one of the most fascinating countries in the world.


Here are my feet sweltering on the burning carpets leading to a temple. It was 120 degrees out and the pain to walk barefoot on this rug was real. Yet I had to take a photo to remember how it felt.


Pratham India: Every child, learning well

Education is without doubt one of the key ways to lifting people out of poverty. In India, a country of over one billion people and an estimated 400 million living below the poverty line (World Bank 2010), education has become a matter of survival for the millions of children living in poverty in both rural and urban Indian.

Per the 2012 the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER): Learning levels have dipped to an all-time low. So, almost half the 6-7 year-olds (Class I) in India cannot read even one letter in any language, over 57% cannot read any English while almost 40% cannot recognize numbers between 1 and 9, the report said. Access to education is becoming a key problem and obstacle for many of India’s poor children.

Pratham is the largest NGO working in India to provide quality education to the country’s millions of underprivileged children. Pratham’s multi-pronged approach ensures the following four initiatives:

  1. Enrollment in schools increases.
  2. Learning in schools and communities increases.
  3. The education net reaches children who are unable to attend school.
  4. Models are replicated and scaled up to serve large numbers of children to achieve a large scale impact.

Source: Pratham

What is so great about Pratham is that they work with the government and view their programs as a supplement not a replacement for education to underprivileged kids. As resources become more and more stretched and more migrants are moving from their rural villages to the slums of urban India, there is a dire need for educational services and Pratham has worked hard at filling the gap. It is no surprise that Pratham’s model is “Every child in school and learning well”.

While we were in India, Jennifer James (Founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good) and I had a chance to visit one of Pratham’s many urban learning centers located in an East Delhi slum, where we witnessed firsthand the dire need of education and the techniques of learning that Pratham is applying to some of India’s poorest children.


Inside the classroom children are learning basic English schools.

Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises India SOCIAL GOOD TRAVEL BY REGION

Riding a rickshaw through the streets of Old Delhi

There is no better way of seeing and understanding India’s capital than by taking a ride on back a rickshaw through the streets of Old Delhi. Built in 1639 as the Mughal capital Shahjahanabad ( شاه جهان آباد) the intensely crowded and dilapidated streets of Old Delhi remain the heart and soul of the city and are a sight to see.  For the narrow, shadowy streets of Old Delhi offer a glimpse into what life was once like and still is for millions of Indians.

On back of a rickshaw, be prepared to be thrust into humanity and taken away by all one’s senses. The sights, smells, sounds, feel and taste of the place is enough to put any reasonable person over the edge. It is an overwhelming experience especially in the midst of Delhi’s infamous summer heat with highs reaching the unbearable 120 degrees. Yet it is an experience of a lifetime that will shed light onto this vibrant country filled with complexity and contradictions in every aspect of life.

Here are the photos taken from the bumpy ride on back of a rickshaw through the narrow streets of Old Delhi ( I was unable to stop so all these photos were taken in motion).  I left the ones of my driver in this set so you can see how incredibly narrow these streets are to manage on a rickshaw. Sadly, most rickshaw drivers barely make ends meet and oftentimes live on the street next to their rickshaw fighting to survive. Another tragedy of Old Delhi is the state of the buildings. Many are falling apart and recently one collapsed to the ground in the middle of the night while 35 people slept right through their death. It is one of many sad realities of life on the streets of India. 

Climbing on board. Note I am wearing a scarf over my head to keep the intense sun off.

Climbing on board. Note I am wearing a scarf over my head to keep the intense sun off.


In the Background: Life in a Delhi Slum

Behind the beautiful, lavish parts of Delhi always lies the most abject poverty imaginable. I have read several books on the slums of India and thought I’d know what to expect when I saw them in person. Yet nothing I’d ever seen in all my years of travel could have prepared me for the stark reality of desperation, misery and despair of walking through a real live slum in the heart of India’s capital.


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India in Instagram

The last three days in Delhi have been a complete whirlwind. We have been on the move visiting our NGO partners for Social Good Moms to learn more about their work on the ground. Being in Delhi is like being at the forefront of humanity. The buzz of mass civilization frenzies around you and engulfs all your senses. There is so much going on at any one moment that it is hard not to blink your eyes in amazement. To make the experience of being here even more surreal, the temperature has been dizzyingly high averaging around 114 degrees F/46C. In a crowded city of over 20 million people, the heat just adds to the intensity of the place.

Our first day was spent resting and recovering after our long journey to India. It took us over 30 hours to finally arrive in Delhi and the time change (Delhi is 11.5 hours ahead of Minneapolis time) has been hard to adjust to. Day two was spent visiting a small Delhi-based NGO called Protsahan that provides a unique approach to education for street children in the urban slums by using the arts. Day three was spent visiting India-based NGO Pratham who also works in education for underpriviledged children in the urban slums of India. Both visits were amazing and we learned a lot about how these NGOs are working with these children to give them a future.

I will go into the specific details of each visit and what we learned in a future post. However, in the meantime I wanted to share a small selection of instagram photos I’ve taken over the past three days in India to give you a feel for our trip so far.













The adventure of getting there is half the fun


Sometimes getting there is half the fun. Traveling half way across the world is no easy feat and as long as you maintain a positive attitude and sense of humor than it can actually be quite an adventure.

I began my journey to India at nine am on Sunday, May 19th and four flights and 36 hours later, I finally arrived at my final destination, Delhi. As always, there were lots of bumps along the way, a few which began before I even left. The physical journey was long and arduous, yet the mental journey has literally just begun.

As much as I love to travel, leaving is always the hardest thing. The days before a big trip are always jam-packed with preparation as I run around in a mad dash trying to get everything done. I’m always stressed and always feel mixed emotions about leaving. A lot of excitement, anticipation tagged along with that not so pleasant anxiety I feel about leaving the kids. I know it is the mother in me. But leaving home for a long trip always unsettles my nerves. As soon as I’m on the plane, I’m fine. It is just that terrible goodbye and a little bit of worry.

Sunday morning was no different than before. After a stressful couple of days, I woke up with those usual pretravel jitters. By nine am the car was loaded with my suitcase and we were off to the airport. As we neared the terminal, my six-year-old daughter began to cry. “Mama, why do you have to go to India” she asked between sobs. My little girl always has a way of getting right inside my heart. I felt my stomach tighten. “Because I’m trying to save the world” I answered steadily. “But why do you have to do it?” she questioned. And for a moment I was speechless and stunned by her question, coming from a kindergartener. “Because someone has to do it” I responded.

Two and a half years ago a life-changing trip to Nepal and India opened my mind. I have traveled all my life but for some reason this trip in particular was like nowhere else I’d been. I had never seen poverty like I did in India and Nepal. I had just finished reading Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s “Half the Sky” which educated me on so many issues about women and poverty that I never understood. The book has a strong message that anyone can do something to change the world. No matter how big or small, you can make a difference. This belief prompted me to start my blog and use my voice as a way to share my experiences around the world and educate others on what is happening sometimes behind the scenes.

Last fall I began writing as a member of the Global Team of 200, a group of mom bloggers trying to change the world by using their voice to educate others on maternal and infant health, education, children, nutrition, human trafficking, water and sanitation and other important issues that relate to poverty. The more I learned about these issues, the more passionate I’ve become about trying to help make the world a better place.

I’ve learned that you cannot travel with a blind eye. You must always have a “third-eye” so you can see everything – good and bad. So many times people choose to ignore the bad because they don’t want to see it. The world will not change and become a better place for all if we continue to ignore fixable problems. As a global citizen, it is our duty to help the millions of voiceless people who are suffering silently.

As I embarck on this journey, I intend to do whatever I can to have an open-mind and take everything in. I am sure it will be yet another life-changing, eye-opening experience. I look forward to sharing my journey with you all.


Stay tuned….
We have started a tumblr blog at to follow our trip. You can also follow us along on Twitter at hashtag #SocialGoodMomsIndia.

Taj Mahal India

India Bound

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. -Mahatma Gandhi 


Building global connections both online and offline is the cornerstone of Mom Bloggers for Social Goodsays founder Jennifer James who heads up one of the world’s largest social good sites for moms who blog.

On Sunday, I am honored to be traveling to India along with Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, to meet face to face with some of our partners as well as meet fellow Social Good Moms who live in India. Our time in India will be spent learning about the issues we cover: Maternal and newborn health, food and water poverty, sanitation issues, and education for women and girls.

It’s going to be an amazing time, full of lots of insight into the advocacy work we do as well as the culture, people and situation in India. I have visited India briefly in 2010 when I was en route to Nepal and found India to be one of the most dynamic places I’ve ever been. It will be truly fascinating to see India once again through a different set of eyes and mindset.  I will have my “third-eye” waiting and ready to capture and soak in as much knowledge as I can.

During our stay, I’ll be sharing my journey via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and of course on my blog.  I hope you follow along on this journey! It is bound to be eye-opening!

I would like to thank Sevenly for being a trip sponsor. They are an amazing organization. Check our their website here to learn more about the fabulous things they do.


It is a huge honor for me to be invited to go on this social good trip as I’m certain I will learn so much more about the work I’m so passionately advocating for.  I am so excited to share what I learn with you. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I don’t think we can see the world without learning about the issues each place we visit face. It is up to us to not only be a good tourist, but to be a good citizen and help change the world we live in to make it a better place for all. Thanks for your support!

To Follow Our Journey From May 20 – 24, 2013.  Hashtag: #SocialGoodMomsIndia

To learn more about Mom Blogger’s for Social Good, check out this interview recently published in Forbes about Jennifer’s work. “Mom Bloggers Build a Network for Activism and Change.” 

Stay tuned…