Staff Reporter

`Friends of India' funds developmental projects here

CHENNAI: Friendly grins, exchange of goodwill and sharing of nostalgic moments. The meeting between the representatives of the Tamil Nadu Foundation and their overseas partners on Tuesday was held in a cordial atmosphere.

The visitors from Switzerland who funded several development projects in the State were part of the Geneva-based charity organisation, Friends of India.

P. Chandrasekaran, Tamil Nadu Foundation secretary, highlighted the various projects across the state partnered by FOI since 1999.

Pamela Walsh, founder president of FOI, is on her ninth visit to India along with her team to monitor the ongoing projects and also discuss on NGO's needs. Ms. Walsh, a teacher and founder of a language school in Geneva, was inspired to reach out to the uneducated children across the world.

Her first donation to schools in Tamil Nadu through her school in 1999 inspired deep-rooted relationship with organisations here.

Since then, she has helped extensively towards education and women's empowerment through projects on better school infrastructure, school dropout projects, modern anganwadi kitchens and financial aid to self-help groups. "We raise funds from our regular donors and fundraiser events such as theatre performance. School students in Switzerland are excellent fundraisers," she said.

"They learn something new from fundraising... that there are children who cannot afford education in other parts of the world and need help," she said.

In fact, 25 children of two classes in a school at Switzerland managed to raise Rs.4.5 lakh that has shaped into a building at Kovalam.

To be inaugurated on Thursday, the building would serve several purposes including students' tuition centre and training centre for women. At the meeting, the Tamil Nadu Foundation listed various projects, costing up to Rs. 46 lakh, including more modern kitchens for anganwadis and model schools projects. The team of delegates, including Robyn, vice-president of FOI would decide upon the projects to be funded for this year during their two-week stay in India.