Kantha Vibhag Friendship Trust – Report

Kantha Vibhag Friendship Trust and its Charitable Work
Some of you have heard about the Trust and a number of you have participated/attended its programmes when on a visit to India. The details below will familiarise you further with the activities of the Trust and its future plans.

In 1983 I went to India for the second time in thirty-five years. Most of the three weeks, I stayed in Navsari where my mother was hospitalised and a few days in my village. The thought that bugged me most at the time was that if my next visit should take another thirty-five years it would be too late for me to do whatever little I should do for my people in the villages.

During my visit one afternoon to the Gujarat Agricultural College at Char Rasta I met Dr. Ramanbhai Patel, a lecturer at the time, who volunteered to show me around. Although I met him for the first time and did not know him at all, I expressed my wish to do something on a regular basis in our villages. In specific terms I said in years to come I wanted to see four mango trees in four corners of each villages farm. He invited me to his house for further discussion.

The outcome of it was that when I returned to London I set up the above Trust with much wider aims than planting Fruit Trees so that various development projects can be undertaken as required. (Incidently, it turned out that this young man Dr. Ramanbhai had married in Matwad to a relation of my sister. This helped me to persuade him to take on the responsibility himself ). It turned out to be one of the best choices for the Trust.

In 1984 I went back to India with all the relevant registration papers, opened a bank account in the name of the Trust and we were ready to launch our first Fruit Tree Planting Project soon after the next monsoon in 1985.

The aims listed in our Trust instrument were, advancement in health, education, culture and relief of poverty and any other purposes beneficial to the community. In the beginning, with the limitation of my own financial commitment we did not believe we would be able to do more than two or three programmes a year. When setting up a trust in UK it is best to list our aims rather widely as it becomes rather difficult to change afterwards.
And so within the limits of funding the projects developed over the years. For the past 20 years we have been doing some 15 to 20 programmes every year. Since the past few years, a number of supporters have come forward to sponsor a project each year.

Here is a brief list of what the Trust has done and in many cases is continuing to do. We continuously evaluate our work and if we find any of our projects has served its purpose or if the local needs have changed then additional new programmes are organised to meet the changed circumstances.

Planting Fruit Trees.

This was our initial project. 8 or 10 villages were selected and 20,000+ fruits trees were distributed for planting each year. Each household was given 5 to 6 saplings of different fruit trees. These included mango, chikoo, coconut, ramphal, lemon, jamrukh, papaya, dadam, saragvo, etc. for planting in their backyard or vado. Over the years we have planted 300,000 fruits trees in 56 villages.

Veterinary Camps / Livestock Management.

In association with Vashdhara Dairy and Agricultural College we organise 5-6 veterinary camps each year. Camps are held in open ground in one of the villages and people from 3-4 surrounding villages bring in their cows, buffalos, goats etc for treatment or diagnosis by the veterinary surgeons from Vasudhara Dairy. If injections or medicine are required this is supplied free of charge.
Instructions and posters for livestock management and recognising sickness are also given. This programme is very popular as keeping a cow or a buffalo is a very useful means of reducing poverty in a village.

Skill Development and Cottage Industrial Training.

Sewing has proved to be the most popular. Initially we sent volunteers to Government organised courses but as the demand increased we bought 10 sewing machines and engaged two instructors and with five machines in two villages started three months courses. 46 villages have been covered and everyone who wished to learn to sew has been taught and vast majority of them have been helped to buy a machine at a substantial discount. This activity continues. Taking up sewing jobs in the city has been a handicap because of the compulsion to work late in the evening.

Hundreds of young ladies have gone through our weeklong Beauty Parlour training. Some of them are practising and earning good money.

Flower arrangement, Biscuit making, and making plastic dinner dishes courses are regularly organised.

The Trust regularly organises Motor rewinding, Tractor maintenance, Brick laying, Plumbing and basic electric rewiring and TV and Refrigerator maintenance courses.

All the courses we run are at no cost to the participants.

National Lottery Fund, UK.

Having built up an excellent track record of over twelve years of poverty alleviation and skill training for the benefit to the whole family, the National Lottery Fund awarded us £25,468 to be used over a five year period. This helped us cover a wide area and more activity.

Sponsors.

The Trust does not make a public appeal for funds at any of our programmes so no one need fear that you will be pressurised to part with your money if you attended one of our programme.

Yet, many of our people do sincerely want to do something for our people in India. When they see for themselves the excellent way this Trust functions and approaches us to help we organise for them a platform. The Trust will carry out all the background work and the sponsor personally or through his representative perform the desired charitable work and pay direct to the supplier.

A number of our sponsors have been with us for many years and sponsor a programme or two every year. To name a few, they are:
Amratbhai from USA, Babubhai Rama from UK, Hirabhai Vala from India, Kishorebhai Parbhu for Canada, Mahendra Brothers form India, Naranbhai Makanji form India, P. U. Patel from UK. Ramanbhai Vallabh from India, Shantubhai Bhagwanji from UK, Vallabhbhai Budhi from UK, and others.

It is through their generosity that we have been able to provide rations to the poor, school kits to the children from poor and broken families, prizes to bright students, cultural programmes such as Bhajan and Ras Garba competitions and many more year after year.

The Trust is grateful to them all.

Future Plans

While continuing with all the above activities with more or less emphasis, we now need to put more weight on schemes that will help reduce unemployment and poverty among our youth and families if any permanent success is to be achieved.

Formal and free primary and secondary education in our villages have little to commend. Our students have difficulty crossing the standard 12 examinations. At this level and below the youths have little skill to join any worthwhile occupation.

From our own experience from the training sessions we run we find that those who go through our technical training and skill courses do much better in the job market.

Our plan now is to fit out and equip a workshop where we can professionally run a number of courses desired by the students and where they can contribute to the economy of the country. These courses will include, Instruments repair, Welding, Motor rewinding, TV and refrigeration repairs, etc.

Each of these practise and theory courses will be of three months duration qualifying for a recognised certificate. We hope to run two to three courses per year.

Our estimated cost for a three month course is Rs. 90,000.

We are looking for sponsors or better still supporters who will support a course every year. Even if you can sponsor a few students it will be a great help.

Do please contact me here in UK or Ramanbhai in India.
UK. Keshavlal J Patel. Phone: 020 8902 7034. email kjspatel@yahoo.co.uk
India. Ramanbhai B Patel. Phone: 02637 225 415. Mobile 93272 45447

Keshavlal J Patel
April 2012

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