You’ve seen her compelling gaze on our trucks for the past number of months. She is the face of our corporate social responsibility campaign: ‘Genuine Not Just Generous’. But who is she and what does she stand for?
It starts in Chitwan province in Nepal. The year is 2002. Gay Lea Foods with its CDF partnership is there and the situation looks bleak. The local dairy co-operative has a three-room school.There’s only enough room for some of the community to go to school a half day, and it’s mostly boys from the higher castes who attend. Girls are usually regulated to caring for the family buffalo, which often represents the family’s only meager income. From a young age, many girls are attached with a rope tied around their waist to the buffalo to make sure the animal doesn’t get lost or stolen.
The CDF conditions for development are clear: if a community investment is to be made, it must be accessible to the entire community, regardless of financial circumstance or position in the caste system. By the time Gay Lea Foods leaves, the school has six classrooms, complete with a lab, new furnishings, running water, toilets and electricity. It is for all members of the entire community of castes.
But the biggest gain is the group of girls who have been added to the class list despite belonging to the lowest rung on the social ladder.
And the biggest hero of all is not to be found among the Canadians—it’s the young man in the photo at right, who had the idea of organizing a group of boys who would tend the buffalo for the other half of the day so the girls could go to school. And so, the little girl’s gaze reflects hope for the very first time; hope just not for her own future, but for the future of the girls in her village.