There is an urgent need to create mechanisms to empower widows in Yavatmal and Vidarbha, and give them the support they need to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. However, such initiatives are rare. One of the few such projects for the welfare of the helpless women is run by Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) and its sister organization Sampada Trust.
W-CReS is headed by Dr. Marcella D’Souza. A physician by training, she opted for Community Health early in her career. Marcella is an alumnus of the Government Medical College, Nagpur and a Takemi Fellow of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). She has spent more than 3 decades in rural development, six years of which were spent on the Andes Mountains in Peru, South America where she established and managed an extensive community-based rural health program. Marcella joined WOTR in 1995 as the Programme Coordinator for women’s promotion in the Indo-German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP). In this programme, she developed the pedagogy to integrate health, gender and women’s empowerment in watershed development projects, which has been widely adopted.
Marcella served as the Executive Director of WOTR from 2006 to 2019. She also founded the Sampada Trust (ST), and initiated several innovative interventions in WOTR – including the establishment of the WOTR Centre for Resilience Studies (W-CReS). W-CReS is an applied research think tank that seeks to provide evidence based insights to improve policy making, program implementation and capacity building for enhancing adaptive capacities and resilience to climate change in rural areas.