I was moved several times, to tears, by what I saw. I spent President’s Day touring the facilities of NGO, Children International (CI). (Mazzetti is currently exploring a potential partnership with CI re solar installation work). A brief ‘about’ CI in their own words…
For more than 75 years, Children International has been providing critical assistance to children and families struggling in terrible poverty. Our centrally located community centers, from which our dedicated in-country staffs operate, provide resources, programs and services that allow us to reduce the burden of poverty on impoverished children and youth, invest in their potential and provide them with opportunities to grow up healthy, educated and prepared to succeed and contribute to society.
Location: Kolkata (formerly Calcutta)
Capital of the Indian state of West Bengal
Second largest city in India
Home to almost 15 million people, most of them desperately poor.
CI serves about 25,000 children and youth in Kolkata. They have been working here for about 25 years. They are sometimes told, they are wasting their time; that, even if they can “save” all of their 25,000 children, in the face of the immensity of the need of the other 14,975,000 people, they have done very little.
And yet, they persist. They help their kids who suffer abuse. They help their kids who suffer childhood marriages. They help their kids to learn English (which is necessary in India to get a good job), and they help them learn computer skills and leadership skills. They provide their kids with healthcare and nutrition. They provide them with a safe place to be.
Literally building a better community.
India has suffered with the tensions between the Hindu majority and the sizable Muslim minority. Kolkata has less of this tension than other areas, but it is still there. The people, for instance, live in separate neighborhoods, and don’t mix. BUT, CI takes kids of all faiths and treats them as equals. There, at an early age, they learn about the sameness of peoples, and they learn they can be friends with everyone, and they take these lessons home. CI is building these kids, building their families, building their communities. They are a very powerful force for good. I saw the power of this community in action.
How do you measure value?
At one point, we were driving between sites with the person who manages the facilities. He has a Masters degree in business and an undergraduate degree in economics. He used to have a very high paying job at a very prestigious Indian company. Yet, one day, he threw it all away to become the facilities director for these three little centers. And, he told me why. As a finance guy, he really only had one measure of value, which was how much money he saved, how much he added to ROI. But, he said, at CI, his success is measured by the width of a child’s smile. This from the facilities director.
So, I think we can help. The 2015 Mazzetti projects are already fully committed (more info available on our foundation’s new website). But we will start to plan for our 2016 work soon, and these projects are highly visible on our radar. We are not doing the work they are doing. But we CAN reduce their energy costs, particularly with the installation of solar panels, and help them to do even more for the community. Appreciate your support: http://sextantfoundation.org