This was how FOI President Pam Walsh summed up 2014 at our AGM on 7th May 2015, in Bellevue, Geneva.
The Celebration has been recognising the many achievements of Friends of India over the past 15 years. Half a million lives have been changed and many of our projects are now self-sustaining. An excellent film summarising our work was produced by Ted Talbot and Brian Thomas and shown at our 15th anniversary gala dinner last November. Watch the film here:
The Challenge has been our major project of 2014 – the BCV International School, which was inaugurated on 9th June last year. This project was a first for Friends of India, and aims to provide life-changing education to 150 children from extremely marginalised communities, mostly Dalits. A huge amount of personal investment has been given to the project, in particular by FOI Vice President Diana Smith. We have faced challenges of cross-cultural understandings, technical hitches, logistical problems, differing expectations – and the weather! But we now have a beautiful school, and the aim is for it to be self sustainable by 2016/2017. In the meantime, however, we do still need your support and have launched a scholarship appeal – CHF 500 will completely fund one child for one year at the school. We are also still in need of funds for sports equipment. Visit our Donate page here.
The Change has been the welcoming of two new Board members – Clare Schenker, who has been promoted from her role as administrator, and Trevor Greenwood, who returns after a break of five years and will be helping with strategic thinking. In India, the Board has been strengthened with the addition of Usha Somasundaram, who has been doing amazing work in Afghanistan, helping women and young girls. Kris Easter has stepped down from the Geneva Board as she is now living in Ethiopia, working with USAID, but as she says in her own words: ‘I really do miss the good work of FOI… Friends of India continues to be an inspiring example of how good people can make a meaningful difference in the world.’
Geneva teachers Liz Burland and Pablo Requena recently visited India and spent time helping to train the teachers at the BCV International School.