I-House residents Muntasha Quddus and Erik Levin have been awarded a Davis Projects for Peace grant to implement their own grassroots project during summer 2016.
Davis Projects for Peace is the vision of International House New York alumna Kathryn Wasserman Davis who, on her 100th birthday in 2007, launched this program at more than 90 college campuses in the United States as a way to inspire young people to create initiatives that would bring new energy and ideas to the prospects of peace in the world. In 2008, Davis extended the funding of this program to the group of International Houses Worldwide in addition to the schools associated with the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholars Program. Additional information about Kathryn Davis and the Davis Projects for Peace grant program is available at http://www.davisprojectsforpeace.org.
Muntasha Quddus, an international student at the University of Chicago's Public Health Sciences Department from UK, will use the grant for her project Bidai Ballo Bibaho—Goodbye to Child Marriages. The project aims to raise awareness of the harmful impact of child marriages on the lives of girls in Bangladesh. She will spend four weeks conducting workshops in schools in three different Bangladeshi villages where child marriages are still a common practice. As Quddus explains it, the legal age for girls to get married in Bangladesh is 18, yet 66 percent of girls get married before their 18th birthdays. The girls are stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty, poor health, and abuse. They are often disempowered and lack the skills to build stable and prosperous lives for themselves and their families. Ending child marriages will empower girls and give them a chance at a healthy and bright future. Muntasha believes that it is time that we say goodbye to the practice of child marriages, so we can bring peace and stability to the lives of the girls and also to Bangladesh. The project will partner with BRAC, one of the largest NGOs in Bangladesh.
Erik Levin, a PhD candidate in the Anthropology and Linguistics Department, will use the grant for his project Conflict Avoidance through Access to Potable Water to build a well for the members of the indigenous Amawaka community in San Juan de Inuya, Peru. This community is located in the central eastern Amazonian region in Peru. The well will help avoid conflict between indigenous and nonindigenous people in the region. Mestizo loggers and petroleum/natural gas workers continue to encroach upon Amawakas' traditional territories. As a result of industrial activities, the Inuya River's water is becoming increasingly polluted, causing the Amawaka residents to suffer health problems and requiring them to travel for several hours every week to procure clean water. This has been the cause of constant conflict and strife in the region and within the community. A new well will ensure clean water for the community members and will bring peace and stability to the region.
Erik Levin is also a 2015–2016 Community Fellow at International House.
These projects are among the twenty projects from resident members of International Houses Worldwide funded at $10,000 each for implementation during the summer of 2016. Follow the progress of all the Davis Projects for Peace through online journals at www.ihouse-nyc.org. Watch the International House website for further information and for applications for the 2017 Davis Projects for Peace grant program.