Annual Report 2011-12
2012 Annual Report Summary Ongoing Programs with Long-term Partners 1. M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, India (MSSRF): The foundation has been our principal partner since 1999.This year our joint projects include:
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Village knowledge centers: we allocated $14,400 toward the operation of nine centers in the Kannivadi region of South India that provide information on crop prices, entitlements, health, job opportunities, and education in remote villages. AI contributed $2,000 to a scholarship program promoting higher education for village girls. Cluster-based tailoring unit: AI contributed $9,500 in start-up funds to help turn their existing skill at tailoring, common to many rural women, into an income-producing venture. MSSRF grouped the women into federations, centralizing their activities and provided training and equipment. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Asia Initiatives provided machines and paid wages for three months, plus covered the cost of materials and overheads for six months. Our microcredit program with MSSRF has been restructured so that self-help groups will now be running parts of it. More information on this can be found below. 2. Ashta no Kai: Asia Initiatives contributed $3,000 to the formation and operation of youth
clubs which provide education on life skills, health and gender issues for girls and boys. 3. Join the (Soccer) Club! Slum Children Sports and Talent Development Society
(SCSTEDS), AI partner since 2005; 2012 contribution: $2,100. The accolades are pouring in for SCSTEDS, a soccer club formed in 2000 in Chennai (India) by slum dwellers to keep their children in school, out of crime, and on track. In a city crazy about soccer, the meteoric rise of SCSTEDS to a training ground for state and national level players in such a brief period is “nothing short of a fairy tale,” the Deccan Chronicle gushed in April: “Not many teams in the league can boast of such a stellar no-break record.” The Hindu called the program “a tool” for bringing about social change in slum children. Education is an integral part of the program, and children who don’t go to school don’t play. SCSTEDS opened a night school for the children; gratifyingly, dropout rates are falling. “With the help of philanthropic individuals we built SCSTEDS brick by brick,” founder N. Thangaraj says. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Asia Initiatives sent $2,100 this year to support a month-long training camp for 30 team members, both girls and boys. It wasn’t just about uniforms and equipment. It was a matter of sustenance: two eggs, one carton of milk, and one pack of bread. Per child. Per day.
Annual Report 2011-12
NEW INITIATIVES 1. Save a Mother, Save a Family. Center for Children and Families (Columbia University School of Nursing) In collaboration with Gonoshasthaya Kendra, new AI partner; 2012 contribution: $4,500. Per the United Nations, the number of women worldwide dying of pregnancy and birthrelated complications has been almost halved in the last 20 years. However, maternal mortality is still a major issue in a country like Bangladesh, where 80% or more of births in rural areas take place in the home attended by untrained birth attendants. That is changing, thanks to skills training programs such as the one Asia Initiatives supported which was conducted in Bangladesh. The program was run this past fall by Laura Zeidenstein, Director of Graduate Midwifery Education at Columbia University School of Nursing, in collaboration with Gonoshasthaya Kendra, a regional health center serving one million people; 1,150 birth attendants received training in second-stage labor, thirdstage labor management, and placenta. The impact of the program can be gauged by multiplying the number of attendants with the number of births per attendant per month – which could range from four to twelve! Thanks to our donors, that’s a lot of healthy, happy outcomes. 2. WomenLEAD in Nepal! New AI Partner. 2012 contribution $2500 Nepal now has 25 confident, competent new young women leaders, thanks to a grant Asia Initiatives made this year to WomenLEAD, a nonprofit founded by two young women and based in Kathmandu, Nepal, that empowers girls to take leadership positions alongside boys by providing them with the skills they need to pursue their vision for change. Young women (aged 14 to 19) learn how to tackle poverty and discrimination and leave the program with academic and career goals and leadership skills. They complete the leadership program and then go out to local schools where they in turn lead weekly leadership workshops for 150 younger girls. In the words of one participant, “Every moment of the institute was so memorable, but the day I realized I had the skills within me stands out the most…. I feel more empowered and want to bring changes to society, to do something.” And each one is teaching many, thanks to our donors.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF DISASTER RELIEF • •
Asia Initiatives supported relief work following cyclone Thane in South India in 2012, with one of our individual members contributing $500. Asia Initiatives supported relief work in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami: $2,000 was sent from individual donors.
Annual Report 2011-12
HOW IS OUR MICROCREDIT PROGRAM EVOLVING? Our microcredit program, in partnership with the M. S. Swaminathan Foundation (MSSRF), marked its seventh anniversary this year: as of this date 200 microcredit banks have been established, serving over 500 self-help groups and improving the lives of nearly 50,000 people. Besides providing credit, this program has been tremendously successful in building local capacities and leadership at the grass-roots level, thanks to the diligent field staff and leadership of MSSRF. Building upon experience gained, many self-help groups have now formed federations led by elected representatives from their groups. These federations are trained by MSSRF to administer the microcredit program by themselves, with oversight from MSSRF. This means that funds from several microcredit banks donated by Asia Initiatives will be pooled together to provide funds to the federations. Bi-annual reporting to our donors will continue as before by MSSRF. We hope that you are as excited about this new model of microcredit as we are. Our donors will continue to be able to donate banks (U.S. $1,500/bank), name them in any way they wish, and track progress of the funds online. On the Asia Initiatives member trip to India this past August, we observed a sea change in confidence levels among the women who have been part of the microcredit movement for several years. They have evolved from shy to confident, and some of them have recently even won elected seats in the local bodies. 100% of the children of the members of these self-help groups say they plan to finish high school, and many aspire to go to college.
EVENTS AND HAPPENINGS •
Congratulations to the new chapter of Asia Initiatives in Singapore, which was launched this year. We are especially grateful to Piyush Agarwal, who is leading the chapter, and Pradipta Mullick, a long-time AI-Tokyo member who introduced Asia Initiatives at the Indian Institute of Technology alumni gathering in Singapore, which triggered the formation of the chapter. AI-Singapore held its first fundraiser this month (December 2012). Details, and photographs from the event, are at [link] - June 7, 2012. Poetry reading and auction in New York City. $14,000 was raised, thanks to our loyal and generous supporters.
October 10, 2012. Hosoe is one of the twelve photographers whose work appears in the Asia Initiatives Modern Masters of Photography portfolio. In conjunction with the talk and reception, Asia Initiatives mounted a display of the twelve photographs in the gallery at the lobby of the Japan Society. For more information on the portfolio, click here.
October 11, 2012. International Day of the Girl Child. Asia Initiatives New York and its partner in Pune, India, Ashta no Kai, worked with LitWorld and the Millennium Cities Initiative of Columbia University to celebrate the Day of the Girl Child. Social media was used to raise awareness of the urgent need to support girls’ education and rights.
October 24, 2012. Dinner dialogue with Dr. Hopper.
December 23, 2012. Asia Initiatives hosted a holiday dinner/fundraiser to honor young social entrepreneurs, including a long-term AI member, Erin Vignali, who has been working at a children’s home run by BSSK in Pune, India.