Muntasha Quddus, a 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 Muntasha explains it, the legal age for girls to get married in Bangladesh is 18, yet 66% of the girls get married before their 18th birthday. 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 Ph.D. candidate in the Anthropology and Linguistics Department, will use the grant money through his project Conflict Avoidance through Access to Potable Water to build a well for the member of the indigenous Amawaka community in San Juan de Inuya, Peru. This community is located in Central Eastern Amazonian region in Peru and the well will help avoid conflict between indigenous and non-indigenous people in the region. Mestizo loggers and petroleum/natural gas workers continue to encroach upon Amawakas' traditional territories. As a result of non-indigenes' industrial activities, the Inuya River's water is becoming increasingly polluted. As a result, Amawaka residents suffer health problems or have to travel for several hours every week to procure clean water. This has been the cause for constant conflict and strife in the region and within the community. The new well will ensure clean water for the members but will also bring peace and stability to the region.