It is a little over 20 years since Friends of India was founded with the primary aim of supporting education and training for disadvantaged children and women in southern India. Over the years we have raised over CHF 3 million to fulfil our mission. We have built schools, classrooms, community centres, orphanages, toilet blocks and provided clean water supplies. We established a music school for blind children, created a home for children with HIV/AIDS, and installed nearly 3,000 smokeless stoves in kindergartens. We have financed teachers and trainers, provided cows and buffalos for poor families, funded micro credit and skills training for women, and provided boats and nets for fishermen hit by the 2004 tsunami. Our work has touched the lives of thousands of families in Tamil Nadu, south India, and continues today, as the children we started helping 20 years ago grow into healthy young adults who can support their own families and communities.
As we begin a new decade we have to recognise that times change. One of our objectives has been to try to ensure that the projects we support become self-sustaining, and we are satisfied that most of our initiatives have now been completed or are in a position to fund themselves. We are none of us as young as we were, and now seems to be the right moment for us to ‘hang up our boots’. With a certain sadness, the decision has been taken to terminate the activities of Friends of India as of June 1, 2020.
However, while individual projects have become self-sustaining, needs in India often seem as great as ever. We are delighted to tell you that we have identified a young organization which shares our vision, and is dedicated to providing education scholarships for the poor. The Shere Khan’s Youth Protection organization was founded last year by Noelle Demole, who first came to India with us eight years ago. She was so moved by the needs she saw on that visit that she has created Shere Khan to provide education scholarships for young people who have grown up in orphanages and need funding to undertake secondary education. Her grandfather, the late Jean-Pierre Cuoni, was a generous donor to FOI over the years and we are delighted that Noelle is continuing the family tradition of supporting education for the poor in India. We very much hope that those of you who have been donating to Friends of India through the Chris Powell Scholarship Fund and other initiatives will consider continuing your support through the Shere Khan project –www.sherekhansyouthprotection.com
A final celebration
Meanwhile, we intend to go out with a bang! We do hope you will join us in one last celebration and fundraising event. On 19th May 2020 we invite you to an evening of music, entertainment and a lavish Indian meal prepared by south Indian chef Prem and his wife Brinah Sharila. Brinah grew up in an orphanage supported by Friends of India so it is with great pleasure that we dedicate our last event to her. She represents our legacy. Brinah and Prem are giving back to their own community in Tamil Nadu, by creating a residential home where both older widowed women and young orphan girls live side by side. We are thrilled that our last fundraising event will be helping this initiative and we invite you to join us as we celebrate 20 years of achievement, and look forward to what more can be done. The event will be held at the Salle Communale in Crans. Tickets at CHF 75 can be bought in advance only. Contact Clare at info@friends-of-India.org and check our Facebook page @friendsof indiaorganisation for updates.
As we look back at the last 20 years we can be proud of our achievements but we know that it is thanks to you our friends and donors that it has all been possible. On behalf of the thousands of families in Tamil Nadu who have been touched by FOI, we want to pass on a huge thank you, and look forward to seeing you for one last big party on 19th May.
Pam Walsh OBE, Ted Talbot, Jan Powell, Clare Schenker, Diana Smith
Friends of India Board