The Gifts our India Team Members Bring

In the weeks leading up to the winter holidays, we selected the members of our Mere Saathi Project Team for our March 2018 work in villages of Uttar Pradesh state in India.

Our team members are all volunteers.  They bring precious gifts to Mere Saathi's work and mission:  Dedication.  Fortitude.  Tenacity.

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Our 2018 India Project and field work focus on treating parasites in dairy cows. goats, and buffalo.  The team will treat 300 animals in three villages of Mirzapur District and train our community outreach partners in India to continue the prescribed parasite treatments throughout the year.

Every team member is training to meet our primary objective:  Diagnose and treat dairy cattle and train others to do so.

But our connection with the women who care for these animals is just as important. That's why our team includes specialists in human health care and social work, photojournalism, vocational training, and linguistics.  We will stay connected with the women we serve, and with our local partners who help us deliver veterinary care over the long term.

We are one small village helping another.  Meet our team.  Join us

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Dr. Audrey Barker, Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Barker is the Founder and Medical Director of Mere Saathi.  She served for several years as Medical Director of one of Baltimore's largest veterinary clinics and emergency hospitals.  Dr. Barker worked with researchers and faculty at UPenn's School of Veterinary Medicine to develop our 2018 parasite treatment program, and with hospital administrators in Mirzapur District to design our village outreach strategy.  She will lead all in-village veterinary activities and meet daily with hospital administrators to adapt the program as the work progresses.


Greta Engle, Logistics

Greta has worked in the US healthcare industry for over 20 years.  She has served on the boards of several non-profits, including The House of Ruth and Mere Saathi.  Greta will plan and oversee all in-country travel and village-centered activities, ensure the well-being and safety of team members, and maintain communications via social media with Mere Saathi partners and stakeholders.


Sean Spiva, Animal Health Educator 

Sean brings audio-visual technology skills to Mere Saathi's work.  He developed the bilingual and pictorial training aids the team will use to train local outreach teams and educate village women about parasite treatment.  Sean will serve as veterinary assistant and will lead the training of local community outreach teams.  

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Kate Rediger, women's Outreach 

Kate is a nurse practitioner, has worked in the medical field in Baltimore city for many years, and is passionate about women’s rights. She will interview and work directly with the village women who care for dairy cattle.  She'll also provide medical support to the team and build connections with local nursing and medical staff to collaborate on upcoming Mere Saathi initiatives.

Alex Rediger, Hindi Language and Social Work 

Alex holds an MBA in International Business and has broad experience bridging language barriers and networking for international trade.  He also holds a Masters in Social Work and has served people in need within multi-cultural communities.  He is a self-taught linguist with ability to read and converse in both Hindi and Urdu, and he pursues a rigorous study of South Asian history, language, religion, and politics.  Alex will conduct interviews and gather data on animal husbandry and dairy economics in the villages.

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Steven Rotundo, Photojournalism and Technical Support

Steven is a mechanical engineer working in advanced robotics.   He is also a skilled machinist and avid photographer and problem solver.  Steven will lead and coordinate photo-documentation of the project and guide the team's efforts to gather data about animals and village dairy economics that can serve as indicators of the 2018 project's success and guide Mere Saathi's projects in the future.  

Ten Thousand Villages. Where do we start?

This year, we changed our base of operations in India to the small town of Kachhwa in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.  Kachhwa is located an hour west of the sacred city of Varanasi on the Ganges River. The town has a population of about 20,000 and a small hospital.  Kachhwa is surrounded literally by 10,000 villages.  Many of them are the poorest Dalit (Untouchable) villages.

We're making final preparations to continue our work in three of those Dalit villages in March.  How did we decide which ones?   A mix of geographic data science and the human touch:

 Mere Saathi project location for 2018 - three villages near the town of Kachhwa in the state of Uttar Pradesh

Mere Saathi project location for 2018 - three villages near the town of Kachhwa in the state of Uttar Pradesh

We used location-based analysis of available data about demographics, economics, and public health outreach by our partners who are already on the ground in Kachhwa.  They have decades of experience delivering human health and social services to women and families in the surrounding villages.  These services include water wells and toilets, literacy and domestic skills training, medical clinics and dairy Self-Help Groups.

Data is useful.  But in the end, we relied most on the Kachhwa team's experience with women and families, language, and cultural sensitivity that cannot be captured in data.  We're fortunate to be working with these professionals who understand the One Health approach to human and animal health, and who value the contribution that Mere Saathi can make to improve the lives of village women and their families.

Our 2018 project in Uttar Pradesh, India, is 80% funded.  You can be part of our story.


Partnering with HIT - Building on Decades of Healthcare and Education Service in India

Mere Saathi is now partnering with Helping India Together, a 501c3 NGO with years of experience delivering healthcare and education services to marginalized communities in India.  HIT provides support to Mere Saathi in the areas of in-country transportation and logistics, networking with heathcare organizations in Uttar Pradesh, knowledge of Indian government regulations and economic and social infrastructure.

Precision Dairy Nutrition for Women’s Self-Help Groups in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh

In 2014 and 2015, we worked with village women's Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh to define more dairy nutrition regimens that can be applied using local resources.  Our work was based on our previous 2011-2012 Community and Family Surveys,  animal clinics, and our conversations with women about animal husbandry and economic practices in their villages in West Bengal, Punjab, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh.