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Congressional Chiefs of Staff Visit India with CARE to Learn How U.S. Support is Improving Health and Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 26, 2013) – Four U.S. Congressional chiefs of staff from Republican offices traveled with the global poverty-fighting organization CARE on a Learning Tour through rural India to explore how U.S. investments are helping improve the country’s health and education, particularly through empowering women and girls.

The chiefs of staff represented a diverse delegation from across the U.S., including Texas, New York, Alabama, Oregon, and Washington.  Technical experts and the media also joined the trip.

Learning Tour participants included:

  • Matt Leffingwell – Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)
  • Justin Stokes – Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)
  • Michael Staley – Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL)
  • Casey Bowman – Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
  • Jen Kates – Vice President and Director of Global Health & HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Shoba Narayan – Freelance Journalist
  • Tony Fratto, Partner at Hamilton Place Strategies

The CARE Learning Tour visited six program sites with where strong partnerships between the U.S. government, the private sector and local organizations have yielded tangible improvements to health and education. The trip offered a unique opportunity to meet with women and girls affected by health and education challenges, as well as frontline community health workers, nurses and local leaders, whose work is improving the lives of people in these poor communities.

The group also met with local and national leaders of the Indian government. Some of the topics explored include health, gender, education and innovation.

Since the 1990s India’s economy and middle class have grown rapidly. The U.S. has a significant investment in India. In 2011, U.S. goods exported to India rose to $21.6 billion, up 12.4 percent from 2010.  In addition, 40 percent of Fortune 400 companies currently invest in India. Despite historic, robust growth over the last two decades, deep pockets of inequality and poverty still exist, especially in the rural areas the delegated visited.

More than 400 million of India’s people – or one-third of the world’s poor – still live in poverty. And, many of those who have recently escaped poverty, about 53 million people between 2005 and 2010, are highly vulnerable to falling back.

The delegation also learned about the inequity in many dimensions, including religion, caste and gender, that continue to shape families and communities in India. Violence against women continues to make media headlines after a young died from a gang rape last December.

In recent years, the U.S. government has shifted its development approach in India from funding programs towards providing more technical assistance. The Administration has called the development relationship with India to be “the defining partnership of the 21st century.”

To see these partnerships firsthand, the delegation started the trip with a visit to CARE’s Join My Village program in partnership with General Mills and Merck.  One aspect of the program provides girls with educational materials and scholarships for secondary education. The group met with students to see how attaining basic education has changed their lives.

Although India’s health indicators have improved, maternal and child mortality rates remain very high and, in some states, are comparable to those in the world’s poorest countries. India continues to contribute about a quarter of all global maternal deaths. A mother dies in childbirth every 8 minutes in India.

On the second day, the delegation headed to north to Bihar to see how India is reducing maternal and child deaths. Bihar is one of the poorest states in India and receives a significant amount of U.S. government and private investment.  In a small village, the group met with a group of nurses and midwives who are receiving pre-service education on maternal, neonatal and child health and family planning services.

The delegation also met with community health workers and the families they served to learn under the CARE’s Family Health Initiative. The CARE Family Health Initiative is a five-year program that aims to improve survival and health care for women, newborns and children that is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

During part of the CARE Family Heath Initiative visit, the group learned how the family planning component of the program provided women with education on voluntary family planning. By educating women — and men – about family planning, the delegation saw how families are empowered. With more economic resources, parents can plan for a better future for their children. They are more likely to be able to afford to send their children to school and feed them nutritious meals.

On the last day, the group saw how technology is playing a critical role in improving the delivery of health programs. The delegation saw an innovative program that uses mobile phones as a tool for social change. In 2012, the nonprofit launched the “Women Mobile Lifeline Channel,” an integrated mobile channel to provide critical services to women to address their health needs. The channel is designed for millions of semi-literate women using icons with audio and text to track pregnancies, immunizations, menstrual cycles, family planning and infectious diseases.

The knowledge gained from this trip will help participants and CARE continue to advocate for support and funding for these initiatives in India and throughout the developing world. For more information on CARE’s Learning Tours, visit www.care.org/learningtours. CARE Learning Tours are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty.

Our six decades of experience show that when you empower a girl or woman, she becomes a catalyst, creating ripples of positive change that lift up everyone around her. That’s why girls and women are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity for everyone. We also work with girls and women to promote social justice, respond to emergencies and confront hunger and climate change. Last year CARE worked in 84 countries and reached more than 83 million people around the world. To learn more, visit www.care.org.

Media Contacts

Washington, D.C.: Stephanie Chen, CARE, schen@care.org, +1-202-595-2824


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