Better Living came about as one of our Co-founders traveled to India in 2016. Visiting rural communities, and learning from the everyday practices of the local people, our travelling Co-founder quickly came to admire the collective and diligent social nature of these communities. One of the villages he visited was the Sujata village outside Bodh Gaya, Bihar where he stayed for a month. The population here covers a span of different castes, wherein the low- and middle-caste women are the ones who face most of the barriers to social inclusion. Most of the families living here are farmers and relies on agricultural and cattle work, wherein women hold most of the responsibility to these chores. Many of children in the local community remains without access to education as they need to accompany their families to help out with farming activities, or partake in domestic household chores.
Coming from a Scandinavian upbringing this made realise the possibilities that exist for mutual learning between people in Indian village communities and people in Norway. Better Living therefore seek to create an interactive and participatory way of bridging the gap between lack of resources and unmet human potential. By focusing on local women's social entrepreneurship and initiatives of direct trade we can enable more women to gain access to work and provide access to education for their children.
The idea for the organisation was co-created with Pankaj, the very first person Rune met as he came to Bodh Gaya and encountered the Sujata community. Cecilie was the first to get introduced to this idea as Rune returned to Norway. At a local café in Oslo, they decided there and then to make the idea into a reality by fostering their skills to establish an organisation, destined to promote human potential.
Cecilie Kjeldsberg: Co-founder and Project Coordinator.
Cecilie holds an M.Sc. in Nutrition for Global Health from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. After focusing on women’s empowerment and agriculture with Helen Keller International (HKI) Nepal for her dissertation, she fell in love with the culture. After graduating, she moved back to get work experience from Nepal. Her driving force in life is the promotion of well-being for women across all social spectrums. She is also a gymnastics medalists, which proves that she has the ability to accomplish anything she sets her mind to.
Rune- André Tveit: Co-Founder and Project Coordinator.
Rune- André Tveit holds an MA in International Education and Development from the University of Sussex, and Bachelors degree in Peace and Conflict studies from Bjorknes University College, Oslo. He has also been an intern for the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) Nordic Office, Copenhagen, Denmark. Rune is a very outgoing, and conscientious person. His mission in life is to promote access to education for the marginalised. He is also a vivid runner, who ran his first Marathon in May last year.
Pankaj Kumar: Community Mobiliser.
Pankaj holds an MA in Ancient History from the Department of Ancient History at the Bodh Gaya University. Having grown up in the Sujata village he holds significant knowledge about the culture, needs and capacities of the local population. He established Prayas Welfare Trust in 2004, and has been integral in developing and working with women's empowerment and education projects in Sujata. At present moment he is awaiting admission for the Doctoral Degree Programme from the same university. Pankaj holds solid knowledge in Hindi (mother tongue), English (fluent) as well as basic Spanish and Japanese.
Pooja Kumari: Head of Training and Co-Director.
Has a Masters of Arts in Ancient History from the Department of Ancient History at the Bodh Gaya University. Started her own textile shop in 2014. She was the head of training in a local women's empowerment programme conducted by PWT, where 90 women was given basic textile training between 2010-2014. Possesses considerable knowledge in textile production, and team building. She dreams of becoming a designer herself one day. She has a strong desire to empower women to become independent and decide over their own economy.