Twenty-eight years ago I spent six months living in Rishikesh, India, with a dozen fellow college students. We spent a semester living in an ashram, studying Buddhism, Hinduism and Gandhi. For spring break, we rented a bus and drove across India and Nepal, visiting the sacred sites of Buddhism. Last spring, on my first trip back to these countries, I loosely retraced this path with a different group — a CARE Learning Tour, which included U.S. Senators Chris Coon and Jeff Merkle.
What a difference 28 years makes! The colors, food and aromas were all there — but most noticeable to me were the growth and advances in business, trade, infrastructure, tourism and education. It’s astonishing. India has seen ground- breaking economic growth in the years since I first visited: Life expectancy has more than doubled, literacy rates have quadrupled, a sizable middle class has emerged, and maternal mortality in India has fallen more than 68 percent. In Nepal, the percentage of people living in poverty fell by half in just eight years, from 2003 to 2011, and the maternal mortality rate fell by 76 percent from 1996 to 2014.
U.S. foreign assistance doesn’t just save and improve lives in times of crisis. It stabilizes communities — even nations — for the long term.
Today’s India and Nepal are stronger, more resilient and hopeful than when I visited them as a college student. Poverty and gender inequities remain, but everywhereI went, I saw signs that India and Nepal have traveled an enormous distance since my first visit. And the United States has walked alongside these two countries every step of the way — even long before I explored their landscapes as a student..
On Page 2, you can read how the humanitarian work CARE undertook with India and the U.S. Agency for International Development in the 1960s and ‘70s not only helped save India from full-blown famine then, but also solidified some of the principles that still guide our work together today. U.S. foreign assistance, however, doesn’t just save and improve lives in times of crisis. It stabilizes communities — even nations — for the long term. Nepal recently celebrated its first democratic elections in 20 years — with a 71 percent rate of voter participation and 50,000 candidates running for local office. That kind of progress benefits us in the U.S., too. On Page 12 our chief operating officer Heather Higginbottom, formerly of the U.S. State Department, shares her insight into how U.S. foreign assistance is the right thing to do, and the smart thing, too, as it strengthens our national security back home. And don’t miss a Page 8 Q&A with our new vice president for Humanitarian Policy and Practice, Sheba Crocker, who addresses aid as a force for good in our world.
These are extraordinary times indeed. But so is the work we’re doing together to fight poverty around the world. Thank you for your role in that. And thank you for reading!
President and CEO