Written by: Joe Staiano
Joe here — not a scrappy woman… but want to share a story of one I know.
Bronx born and raised, I live in Seattle now and have worked in responsible tourism for 2 decades. I founded MeaningfulTrip tour company where each international trip lends support to issues such as women’s empowerment, health, poverty-alleviation and social justice. Donations are also given to support ‘hunger’, ‘poverty’, and ‘anti-trafficking’ issues right here in USA.
Quote: Defining success and accomplishment is measured in smiles
Story: On a recent 1 month journey in Orissa, India I met Titolima. Orissa is a magical spot in south eastern India. Our MeaningfulTrip Orissa tour spends a couple of days and nights with New Hope nonprofit. New Hope provides valuable services to the Adavasi (original tribal communities) such as leprosy surgery, eye cataract surgery, safe baby delivery, a school for children with disabilities, HIV care and elder care. While visiting New Hope I met Titolima standing in the doorway of the children’s school. Though her hands were still slightly gnarled from leprosy I learned that they are now much better because of a series of 5 operations over many years, courtesy of New Hope. At age 56 (and a lifetime of isolation and being considered ‘untouchable’, this is the very first time Titolima is able to bathe and dress herself. She now has a job as caretaker of the school. Her smile went from ear to ear… her sense of pride shot through me like a lightning bolt. She is a rock star… She is scrappy!