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START OF THE FUND
In the summer of 1999 I visited Southern India with my husband Piet and our youngest daughter, Tina. The purpose of the journey was to visit the children’s home, where Tina spent the first three years of her life. We saw a lot of misery in India. I’ll never forget the street where we walked when we were on our way to the station in Madras the first morning. All kind of people walked behind us: lepers, blind people, cripples, mothers with babies in their arms and little children. Everyone looked pale and grey. These people were out on the streets in this city with over a million inhabitants and full of smog. They were begging and we gave them money and fruit. The little children didn’t want to let us go. I only have to close my eyes to see all of it again: As long as I live I will take care of my fellowmen in India. It’s an obligation. It was not very hard to take a decision. We had to offer help there. During the weeks after our return we had to deal with our experiences. We talked to friends about how to handle this and soon we came to the conclusion that we had to raise a fund. On June 16 it was a fact. The name of the fund wasn’t very difficult: Ananda Bhavan. That’s the name of the children’s home where Tina lived. It means “joy house”.
WHAT DOES THE ANANDA BHAVAN FUND DO?
Ananda Bhavan offers help to people in need without distinguishing between political, religious or ethnic backgrounds. We are an organization that offers help to people in the poorest regions of India. These people live in very difficult circumstances, especially the orphans, aged and handicapped. The cries for help that reach us are various. It may be medical care for orphans and aged who were literally pulled out of the gutter. An old people’s home was able to construct a vegetable garden and buy cows, rabbits and tilapia fish. The aged only got one dish of rice a day.
We were able to finance more, like medical equipment, an incubator, a phototherapy lamp for a hospital and a multi-purpose jeep. Two day centres were realised and two buses were bought to fetch handicapped young people and to bring them back. There they learn how to contribute to the family income and to better themselves that way.
Shortly we’re going to start a project for street children. Because of our small-scale approach we’re often be able to offer quick and concrete help. We’re in touch with several institutions and homes in India. All the proceeds go to the fund. Ananda Bhavan is affiliated with the study group Development aid Emmen. The board of the fund consists of volunteers with various expertises. Some work on the managerial, care or pastoral level and others are experts in foreign aid.
Clara van der Schoof