News of a charity which has achieved its objectives and is therefore now closing down. For many years the writer has watched the progress of Volunteers for Rural India (VRI), which is now winding down. There is very little for volunteers to do now as slowly but steadily, the project has become self-sufficient and local people are employed to do the work. So we have closed the scheme
Australian born Jyoti and Mukat Singh set up the International Task Force for the Rural Poor [INTAF] twenty years ago after seeing that the most well-intentioned policies of various governments to uplift the rural poor had either failed or proved ineffective.
INTAF worked to achieve international recognition the plight of the rural poor which include the most exploited, oppressed and ignored people of the world – tribals, untouchables, the landless, marginal and small farmers.
SUMMER NEWSLETTER: ISSUE 38 – JUNE 2016
In October, a free health camp was held. 35 medical staff came from Teer Thankar Mahaveer University, Moradabad and 25 volunteers, mostly from staff and students at APK. 618 patients were seen, including 297 women, 26 girls, 228 men and 67 boys.
At the beginning of November, the annual Science Fair was held with the theme this year being “Water and Science”. It was very successful with schools participating from Amarpurkashi, Bilari and Chandausi.
At the end of November, the annual free eye camp began, with the co-operation of the same university hospital from Moradabad. 69 patients were identified for cataract operations but only 27 could be operated on as the rest were found to have other illnesses which made them unsuitable.
The Sadbhavna Eco-harmony project is progressing well, despite continuing problems from monkeys and wild cows. Two mazes have been built which have proved very popular with children of all ages. There is also an octagonal pagoda for meetings. Lentils have been grown without the use of chemical fertiliser or insecticide. At present, wheat is being grown as intercropping and is doing well.
In February and March, there were visits from Toby Whitfeld and Kiran Patel, both past volunteers as well as Pawan, VRI trustee, and his children. Outdoor play equipment was bought and installed next to the primary school and the children love having swings, a slide and a seesaw to play on during breaks.
For many years, VRI offered the cheapest and most flexible volunteering scheme around. It was also the only one that placed the emphasis on the learning experience for the volunteer. Over 700 people, aged 18 to 72, volunteered with us, the first in 1971 and the last in 2014.
Now, however, there are many organisations offering affordable, flexible volunteering schemes. Also, we no longer have anyone at Amarpurkashi who is able to look after volunteers. Another factor is that there is very little for volunteers to do as slowly but steadily, the project has become self-sufficient and local people are employed to do the work. So we have closed the scheme. Our website is currently being updated to show this. Volunteers contributed a great deal to the project over the years and we are tremendously grateful to them. But sadly, all good things have to come to an end at some time.
VRI has also been very successful with fund-raising. We have enough money in the bank to fund health and eye camps for the next few years. Other activities at Amarpurkashi can now mostly be funded by the project itself which is no longer dependent on money from VRI. This means that the project work is now sustainable
So VRI is gradually winding down. We do not need any more funds and will spend those that remain on development work at Amarpurkashi and other projects that we support. Many thanks to all those who have donated their time and money to help rural development work in India and specifically in Amarpurkashi.