How did the Love Trust for Indian Children in Need start?
Like most things quite simply really. In 1996 my Swiss born wife Heidy and I set off for a post-retirement trip to India. I wanted to introduce her to Indian friends I had made when leading two working projects to Maharashstra, with older boys and girls of the comprehensive school of which UI had been Head.
Heidy and I stayed with our friends the Agashes in Buldana, a small town in an impoverished rural area. Almost by chance we learnt of the plight of abandoned or destitute babies, sometimes left to die for the lack of the possibility of anything else happening.
Always optimistically convinces that it is better to light a small candle than complain about the dark, we decided to try to do something about these sad and unnecessary deaths.
We came back to England to found a charity, to raise funds to build and maintain an orphanage in Buldana. We named the charity ’The Love Trust for Indian Children in Need’ and registered it both in India and the UK (number 1063867 in UK). We put the first £10 000 ourselves as a measure of commitment, then set up a group of Trustees in UK and a similar group in India.
We visited many orphanages in India to gather ideas and seek out best practice. Almost all Indian orphanages are in cities and ours is unusual being in the countryside: but that is where 70% of Indians live and we saw no reason why a high quality orphanage could not be built there.
We found an excellent model for our work in Nagpur. We studied good building practices to cope with the summer heat. Working closely with Harshawarden Agashe and the Indian friends we acquired a plot of land on the edge of town, designed the building, briefed a local architect. Working procedures were laid down to ensure high standards of health care and hygiene: our Nagpur friends and Heidy’s experience as a social worker were crucial here.
A happy couple with their new daughter
Construction began in 1998, our fund-raising keeping just ahead of the progress of the building. It was opened on 31st January 1999, birthday of Harsh’s mother and our oldest granddaughter.
Since then well over four hundred babies have passed through the caring hands of our ayahs, young local women who come to do their daily shifts on their bikes. Our purpose is to get all our babies adopted inside India and most have been.
Mrs Kalpana Deshpandi devotedly gives 24/7 supervision and lives on site. Most of our staff of 25 have been with us from the beginning as have our trustees.
The orphanage depends exclusively on voluntary funding none of which is used for UK admin or travel, only for the babies and the maintenance of the orphanage.
by Stephen Love