More than anything, we’re a group of people with a common interest: to improve the standards of living in India.
Why India? Most of us have worked for charities, spent long periods of time in rural communities in India at different points in our lives, sometimes just passing through, other times settling down somewhere, getting to know the local population and helping with what was most necessary. And there is always a need, no matter where you go in India, there is always something that needs doing or improving, or a local project in need of a few more hands, a few more brains. What is true is that whatever you do is never enough and when it’s time to leave one never does so with the feeling ‘it’s all done here, time for me to go’. On the contrary, one wishes that time never came.
In the last decade or so, India has become known as one of the world’s super powers, with a fast-growing economy, one of the epicentres of technology and nuclear energy. Urban areas are expanding, with more access to wealth therefore more comfort and better standards of living. And as this process continues, the West has started to turn its charitable efforts towards other parts of the world that need them more.
However, as tends to be the case in developing countries, this process hasn’t meant a better life for all Indian citizens. India still has slums in the outskirts of cities, some Indian communities are still extremely deprived with poor access to basic needs, such as education, housing, health, water, for example. Human rights in general, and women’s rights in particular, are still being neglected. Again, there’s still so much to do and so much less money being invested in what is really necessary that we felt that we just had to help.
Yeah but, how did it all start...?
In 2002, Anna and Laia, two cousins and friends from Barcelona, landed in this tiny little spot in the Indian map called Vedanthangal. Vedanthangal is about 180kms south west of the capital city of Tamil Nadu, Chennai. They went there to volunteer, helping out at their local nursery school and herbal garden. After a year of comings and goings, their time to leave came, and for the first time they experienced the feeling of ‘but there’s still so much more to do…’.
So much so that in 2008 Anna decided to go back to Vedanthangal with Roger, a friend of hers, to see the people they’d befriended during their previous stay. And what an incredible moment it was to discover that a charity called Laia Foundation (nothing to do with the original Laia, we’re afraid) had settled in the area. Roger and Anna met Laia Foundation’s Director and were offered voluntary positions coordinating the after-school support centres.
Their task was to come up with a teaching programme and material to support the teachers, organise monthly meetings with them, help improve their English and raise funds for all the above. And what a year that was. Seeing the project get bigger –as the demand by the locals for more schools increased- and more structured, settled and organised –with very committed staff and ever increasing support from the local population- was a real treat.
Such an amazing year that, on Anna’s return to the UK, where she was now based, she continued her contact with Laia Foundation, with the idea that, one day, she would hopefully be able to set up a UK-based charity to help not only their work but also that of other charities that continue to inspire with their never-ending commitment and efforts to make India a better place.
And so Indian Futures was born, quite a few years later, that’s true, but still with the same commitment to try and do something good that helps the lives of so many incredible people we’ve met along the way. I hope you soon