What started as a business visit in 2000 continues as charity work now

When Udo (71) and Wilma Gaster (67) of Switzerland arrived in Puducherry for the first time in 2000, they wouldn’t have thought that they would give up their business interest in India for the sake of under privileged children.

Now, the couple, who were moved by seeing the plight of family members of tsunami victims, have been silently making inroads into the charity map of Puducherry.

The couple, who had initially sponsored the educational expenses of children of tsunami victims and economically backward families in a small way, have switched their interest towards the welfare of rehabilitating physically and mentally disabled children by starting “You & We Trust”.

Though they couldn’t directly run homes for disabled children or others due to a number of restrictions, they reach out to the needy through Satya Special School, which is doing meaningful and constructive service in the filed of disability management in Puducherry since 2003.

The You & We Trust, Switzerland, takes care of entire expenses of Kodathur Village Rehabilitation Centre, which houses 23 children, most of them identified with high degree of disability of cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism and others. Besides, they fully sponsor the educational expenses of 71 children.

The Trust meets the expenditure from the pension of Udo & Wilma and the contribution of like minded people in Switzerland.

“There is a huge scope and vacuum to serve the under privileged children in the region. We didn’t think of charity when we came to India in 2000. The plight of tsunami victims and the attitude of poor people, who even refused to receive the cash dole given by us on a few occasions, motivated us to take up charity work,” said Wilma, who was a nurse by profession.

Mr. Udo said that they had been visiting Puducherry and stayed for about two months a year since 2000. The happiness that they saw with the poor students and disabled students had driven them to fully concentrate on charity work. If they were allowed to stay in Puducherry for longer period, it would allow them to expand their reach.

Chitra Shah and Krishna Babu, Director and secretary of Satya Special School, said that they were overwhelmed to see the spontaneous support of the couple on helping the needy.

They had bought a land and donated to the special school. They had also committed Rs. 60 lakh for construction, she said.