THE HEART FOR INDIA FOUNDATION (HFI)
SPOUSE ALERT! Before I talk about what the Heart For India Foundation (HFI) does, it’s important to declare that my wife, Princess Francoise Sturdza, founded and still heads the HFI as its President. My personal connection to the charity extends further, in that I’m a world ambassador for the HFI.
The simple fact is that, because I’ve spent so much time visiting HFI projects in India, and working with the HFI teams on the ground, I know more about what this charity does than any other I’ve investigated or come to know personally, apart from my own – but my small charity is run by me, at my own expense, and I don’t take donations from anyone.
I know all of the members of the HFI Committee in Geneva and the Indian Manager and staff members personally, I’ve checked the accounts and other financial records of the charity personally, and I can vouch for the integrity of the charity and the effectiveness of its programs in India personally.
So, although my wife founded the HFI and is its current President, and I’m a world ambassador for the charity, I can objectively recommend it to anyone interested in donating to charities in India as a safe destination for your donation dollars, which delivers highest-quality programs on the ground in India, and is administered with integrity and passionate involvement by the Committee in Geneva, Switzerland.
WHEN DID THE HFI FOUNDATION BEGIN, AND WHO RUNS IT?
After the fall of the dictator Ceausescu in Romania, the world began to see the deplorable state in which orphans and abandoned elderly people were housed.
Princess Francoise Sturdza, a prominent businesswoman from Geneva, Switzerland, with a profound connection to Romania, together with a Committee of dedicated friends, decided to raise funds sufficient to build a large, modern facility for orphans and elderly people in Bucharest.
After the funds were raised, the building was constructed, and the orphans and elderly people were re-housed, the fund-raising Committee wanted to fulfil another project of a similar kind. Princess Francoise, who had by that time developed a love for India, declared that she would become involved in a new charitable project – but only if it could be in India.
The HFI Foundation began at the end of 2005, when Princess Sturdza and her fledgling Committee established itself as a charity registered with the Swiss charity Registration Authority.
After considerable reflection, and discussion with the newly appointed Indian Manager of projects, and the first members of the Indian team, it was decided that working to improve the situation of children in neglected schools would be the first priority of the new Foundation.
WHAT DOES THE HFI FOUNDATION DO?
As a primary project, the HFI Foundation took on a very troubled school in southern India, not far from Chennai (formerly Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu State.
The school had an enrolment of almost 2,000 children, but it had only one toilet. The open area in front of the classrooms was bare earth, which became a muddy swamp in the monsoon season. There were not enough teachers, and although there was a significant demand for English language classes, there were no specialist language teachers. There was no sport program. And worst of all, there was a significant afternoon truancy problem, with a high proportion of kids leaving the school in the afternoon, before the conclusion of classes.
The HFI Foundation built new septic tank toilet blocks, new water drinking fountains, painted the classrooms and paved the open area to make a parade, assembly and sports ground.
HFI paid for new English language teachers and a sports and physical education teacher.
When the physical structures and academic issues had been addressed, HFI brought two experts in nutrition, who were volunteers from Les Hospitaux Universitaires de Geneve to do a longitudinal study of the nutritional health of the students.
Following the assessment and recommendations of the nutrition experts, HFI instituted an afternoon snacks program that gives children a meal in the later afternoon, if the children stay at school.
The afternoon snacks program serves two purposes: to improve the nutritional standards of the children, and to encourage the children to stay at school in the afternoons and complete the day’s studies.
Following the success of these programs, and after two years of dedicated work by the HFI Committee and the Team Leaders on the ground, the school was nominated as a Model School for Tamil Nadu by the Education Department. Now, school officials from all over India and even as far as Bangladesh have visited the school to see how these successful programs can be cloned at other disadvantaged schools.
In other programs, HFI supports two orphanages for abandoned girls. These girls, sometimes just 2 and 3 years old, are abandoned by their families, who cannot cope with them financially. Without the orphanages, the girls become prey for predatory individuals and human trafficking gangs.
The two orphanages for abandoned girls, called Girls Town One and Girls Town Two, provide shelter for the girls, food, accommodation education and vocational training.
In other programs, the HFI Foundation works in support of Charities and NGOs in fields associated with education and protection of vulnerable girls. In exceptional cases, chosen every year by the Indian Manager of the HFI Foundation and his team, individual families are given low-interest loans to help them cope with disasters, and some individuals receive amounts of money necessary to pay for life-saving or life-changing operations.
Following a model devised by the President of HFI, all administrative costs are met by a single sponsor, so that every cent of every dollar donated to the HFI Foundation goes to the programs that benefit the disadvantaged children and families.
The accounts for the HFI Foundation are open on the website for public scrutiny, and the charity is registered with the Charities Commission for tax deductions in Switzerland.
For further information, please visit the website: www.heartforindia.org
That’s dot ORG, not dot COM.