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Bandyopadhyay pursues Clinton initiative

As a participant in the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), Ananya Bandyopadhyay is raising funds for her sanitation project for poor women in rural India. (CONTRIBUTED)
As a participant in the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), Ananya Bandyopadhyay is raising funds for her sanitation project for poor women in rural India. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Ananya Bandyopadhyay is advancing her work in India with Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U).

Founded by President Bill Clinton in 2007, the initiative assembles college students, called ‘Commitment Makers,’ to devise practical solutions for global challenges. After starting their projects, they convene at CGI U for consultation. (cgiu.org)

A graduate of Bob Jones High School, Bandyopadhyay is a junior in biomedical engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Her commitment to rural India involves providing safe, sanitary rest-room facilities for women of lower castes. “More than 60 percent of rapes occur when victims visit unsecured locations” to relieve themselves, she said.

In early August, Bandyopadhyay attended CGI U’s Student Networking Session in Miami. President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and actress America Ferrerra were among presenters discussing “how to remove barriers that hold back the hardest to reach populations.”

During their “Day of Service,” participants painted a basketball court and ‘cubbies’ for Miami youngsters. “Brightening somebody’s day … cannot be replaced by all the riches in the world,” Bandyopadhyay said.

At the closing dinner, Bandyopadhyay was chosen to present her project — one of 30 in a field of 1,100 participants. “This motivated me to believe my proposal could become a reality,” she said. Fighting naysayers, Bandyopadhyay has “a dream to empower women in my birth country who didn’t have my privilege of being brought up in America.”

Her 20-student team and faculty mentor will go to SIFAT (Science in Faith and Technology) this semester to train on constructing lavatories. “Informal classes will educate team members going to India on the culture/language,” Bandyopadhyay said.

Bandyopadhyay believes education is at the root of success, and volunteers must respect situations in India. “If volunteers don’t have proper education, we cannot expect to teach others, especially in a foreign country,” she said.

To raise funds, Bandyopadhyay is approaching companies and individuals, along with selling T-shirts with sponsor logos. “The money will pay for materials, labor, travel and miscellaneous expenses,” she said.

Ananya’s parents are Alak and Anindita ‘Ana’ Bandyopadhyay. To contact Ananya, email to ananyab@uab.edu.

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