At REAL Fundraising we believe in ‘walking our talk’, whether we are buying recycled products or empowering our staff with ways to make ethical choices in their lives. Most importantly, we are in this industry to provide the most cost effective and value for money service to charities. That’s why we put our money where our mouth is and sponsor 2 hostels in Goa and here to tell you how is all began is our Managing Director James Davis and Davy Collier telling you how it all began…
‘For those of you wondering why our MD, James Davis and myself recently threw some mosquito nets in our backpacks and struck out for India (apart from some much needed rest on a gorgeous Goa beach), here’s why….
Back in 2001 I rode an old Enfield Bullet to Mapusa in the Goan hinterland, wanting to visit a childrens hostel that I’d once seen on an old recording years before, on a rainy afternoon in a Buddhist centre in Wales. I found the hostel and was welcomed by the Indian staff and children. I remember leaving with a mixture of inspired joy at the incredible resilience and optimism they had, but also with sadness, that I could see that they desperately needed financial help, but I had nothing to offer, other than best wishes.
Flash-forward to October and November 2009 and in the midst of setting up a new company REAL Fundraising, conversations begin to happen about what we want for the future of REAL and what we want it to achieve. It was decided pretty soon that we should look at forming a trust in order to help do something worthwhile. Having told James about these hostels I remembered, we promptly met with The Karuna Trust, who provide some current funding to the hostels themselves, as well as great work all over India.
March 2010 found us in India, (re)-visiting the hostels. The situation these boys and girls are in, is truly sobering. Some are orphaned, some from families in neighbouring villages that cannot afford to support them when they are too young to work. All are from the Dalit caste (sometimes referred to as ‘Untouchables’), a people subject to thousands of years of oppression and hardship in Indian society. There are about 45 boys and young men in one hostel and 26 girls in another. James and I were shocked to realise that the 26 girls were all having to sleep on the floor together in a small room as hot as a furnace. One thing we want to do is find larger premises to ease the cramped conditions for them, so they can have their own bed and space to study for exams and work at their school homework in supportive conditions.
The staff are incredible, providing them with a safe place to live, a healthy, studious routine and teach them skills such as Karate, to develop their self-confidence. They even get engaged in the social issues of our time, such as demonstrating against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Other than improved facilities, there is a real need for learning support. Educated at primary level in the local language, they soon need to master English in order to progress any further. There is a provision shortage here and we are keen to be able to help increase the availability of English teaching to them, in order to help them carve out a successful future for themselves and their families.
We are going to be spending some time looking at how we can help and how our staff can get involved in this process. We can make a REAL difference here. As we say, Real problems, Real solutions, REAL Fundraisers. ‘Let’s be the change that we want to see.’