An Investment in India

Posted on January 24, 2017 under News & Updates with one comment

A few of the great women in the Daughters of Mary congregation


I have been in India nearly three months now and it is obvious that this is a country on the move. It is emerging on the global scene as an economic powerhouse. Every town and city has an abundance of motorcycles and auto rickshaws, sharing precious asphalt with buses, cars, a variety of animals and pedestrians. The markets are always bustling. You can feel the surge of energy in the country.

But like many places, you’re only as strong as your weakest link and India is struggling to address the plight of the poorest of the poor. It is a Herculean task with a population in excess of 1.2 billion people.

The Daughters of Mary, a Roman Catholic order of nuns, operate several facilities in the southern state of Tamil Nadu where I am currently volunteering. They run a number of orphanages, a couple of facilities for women with mental illness, an old age home and are supporters of a community of people affected by leprosy. In many cases, they have rescued people from the street who have been abandoned by their families for a variety of reasons.

It seems that charities at home and abroad are finding it more and more difficult accessing financial support. In some ways this is a result of increased levels of poverty, with the gap between the haves and have nots ever widening. India is no different but charities here face additional challenges. Many groups like the Sisters have relied on government funding, foreign aid and private donations to finance their operations. Government funding has all but dried up. Ditto for foreign aid. There is a perception that funding organizations abroad see India as an emerging economy and feel that foreign aid is no longer required.

As you enter the premises of the Sisters’ convent, there is a board hanging from a tree which says: “ Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.”

I am trying to do “ something “,  as small and insignificant as it may seem. I have visited many of their facilities which obviously require equipment and upgrades. I have committed to try and raise some money from abroad to help them in their work with the poor.

But why should people back home give money to foreign charities when there is so much need at home? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Maybe a simplistic answer is that there are some people who have the capacity to give at home AND abroad. It doesn’t have to be an “either/or” situation.

In times of turmoil, Canada has shown itself to be a world leader in terms of building bridges, helping those less fortunate, welcoming immigrants and demonstrating progressive thinking. However, it all starts with individual action. Rather than worrying about things that we can’t change, maybe embracing the mantra of the Sisters is the way to go.

One of the big problems about giving money through some of the foreign aid channels is that people are wary that not all the money reaches its intended target. Some aid groups also use images of the poor to tug at our heart strings, which objectifies the poor . A month ago, I spent time speaking with a man from Germany who has been auditing foreign aid for decades and sadly it would appear that people’s worst fears about donating are correct.

I am asking you to make an investment in the Sisters. I watch them daily and can tell you that they are the real deal. While I am here, I can guarantee the folks back home that every dollar donated will go directly to the programs run by the Sisters.

 I have already received some donations which have been used to purchase five wheelchairs and five wheelchair tricycles. In addition to these items, there is need for repairs to the women’s dorm at the old age home ( 30 women occupy one large room ); a vehicle for one of the facilities serving mentally ill women: a few pieces of production equipment at another home housing 100 mentally ill women and repairs to a waste holding tank at the farm that the Sisters own next door to the convent.

I haven’t received all the estimates but the costs will be well over 1,250,000 rupees or $25,000 Canadian. I realize that this is a big ask. Especially so soon after Christmas. I am asking that you reach out to your friends as well from near and far who make have the desire and capacity to give.

A bank account has been set up at the Bergengren Credit Union in Antigonish for anyone wanting to make a donation in person. Just mention my name and the words” Invest in India.” You can also donate on line by doing an e-transfer to I will give you regular updates to let you know how things are going.

This is one situation where I would ask if you could hit the “share” button!

“Everyone can do something.”

Thank you.

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