Melinda Gates in a meeting of newborn care stakeholders in Rampur Bhuligadha village, Uttar Pradesh.
In Rampur Bhuligadha village of Uttar Pradesh , a concerned American lady relates to village women, as she sits with them on the floor, smiling at a baby, creating a sense of belonging with them. A genuine desire for their upliftment and development of their new born is vividly seen in her approach towards them. Determined to bring down the death rate among children under five in U.P. and Bihar , she has been visiting villages, talking about new investments, figuring out what needs to be done, including cultural change which forms a great part of her life as on date. She is Melinda French Gates, co-founder along with her husband, Bill Gates and his father William, of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic trusts in the world who are on a mission of keeping all kids alive!
A major player in India , the Foundation has invested substantially in HIV-Aids prevention, maternal and newborn health related fields. Perturbed by what the couple saw in Africa- men, women and children and the burdens carried by each, so differently - set them to think, feel and question themselves as to,
“What is going on here? Why are these people walking in droves? Why do the women not have shoes on their feet but a lot of the men do? Why do you see so many women who are pregnant with a child on their back and some bunch of sticks on their head?” The trip to Africa stimulated them to feel the immediate need to fill the gaps in health and to start working on it on a mission footing. They started first with childhood vaccination and population stabilization and from there branched out to other fields. Two to three years of working for the Foundation the thought surfaced that all lives have equal value.
“Bill and I believe in equality. The whole Foundation premise is ‘All Lives Have Equal Value’. No matter what State, city, country you’re born in, whether you are male, female. We care about keeping all kids alive and that really is our focus.” says Melinda.
The Gates have themselves moved around in India , Bangladesh , Ethiopia and other countries to be there and see and understand the plight of the poor. They have been in the villages, seen what the mothers and dads are up against and have tried to understand. A mass transformation is what they are aiming at, by assisting people to see the change and to see that it is actually working and that change is possible- all this gives optimism to Melinda and is also some balm to the heart breaks she suffers on seeing the miseries of the poor. So much time, money and efforts, personally invested on the poor, in fact sharing their very life with the poor of the world is huge, mighty giving.
The world is at their feet, richly blessed and bestowed with the best in the world, yet, what a wonderful heart to have, which puts them on their feet, marching tirelessly, selflessly, with a vision of their own, to pull the poor of the world out of the miseries of poverty!
They believe in giving back the amount amassed from Microsoft to the society at large! “Bill and I have made a commitment that 50 years after the last of the two of us has died, all our money would have been given away”.
Unparalleled giving indeed!
Contributed by Ms Harina, State Bank Learning Centre, Indore