Monthly Archives: November 2013

Dear Friends,
All of you have either donated to Friend in Need or heard me talk about it. It is the non-profit I founded to help a tiny Indian fishing village achieve complete sanitation coverage and waste management in 2005 after the Asian tsunami had wrecked huge damage. But I’ve been silent for a long while – but I am back and I invite you all to take a look at my presentation in the Tedx Talks event in Maastricht which explains the ‘how’ of the come-back!

To cut a long story short, since July 2012, Friend in Need or FIN has been transformed into the social enterprise FIN-SWAM. SWAM stands for Sanitation and WAste Management. I am no longer raising funds to transfer to other NGOs to construct toilets. What I have done is to make Friend in Need a local social venture. In other words, I am working to build capacity in a set of residents of the village to build toilets, collect waste and document the process – till we ensure complete sanitation coverage with waste management. And the objective is to make the organization self-sustaining in 5 years so that the residents of the village pay for the services offered by FIN-SWAM and thereby support the livelihood of the FIN staff. Already the villagers are paying for the materials used to construct toilets. A demand for toilets has been created. And a small set of households is already paying for waste collection. The village is cleaner!

Our team now has 9 members. There are 3 masons, 2 men to make to ensure materials for toilet construction and accompany the households, 2 women and 1 man (and a mixed team is a revolution in the village!) to collect waste, and our physically challenged staff maintains our office impeccably clean and answers all the telephone calls politely. They are making a big difference.

I am raising funds to pay the salaries of the team during this incubation period, which I expect to be at least 4-5 years, through my own efforts (writing proposals to agencies for grants & own consultancy) as well as through donations from the public.

Can you please help us by making a donation? There is a simpler way than before – we are collaborating with a crowd funding organization called United Donations, which has been created by academics in Paris from the Grandes Ecoles (or centres of excellence).

• If you register with United Donations, then you can cast as many “points” for the project as you want and one point counts for a donation of 6.60 €, 8.70 US$, or 5.70 £ per month. This will be taken from your bank account.
• Or you can become a guardian angel by agreeing to donate anything from 20€ per year for 3 years. You can make the donation using the paypal button on the website.
• Or you can just make a onetime donation through pay-pal.

We now have a facebook page  – this keeps the readers updated with micro-morsels of information. We are buzzing across social media as it seems the TedxMaastricht event has attracted help from youngsters with very large hearts and wonderful skills and they are going to refurbish the entire digital support of FIN-SWAM!

Thank you for reading and thank you in advance for any donation you can make.

With best wishes,

We are looking for volunteers to conduct sanitation audits in the hillside town of Ooty, India in August 2014. You will need to know Tamil and English well and be familiar with Excel. Travel and lodging will be provided with a modest honorarium. This would be especially interesting for students of economics – interested in base of the pyramid innovations as well as students of architecture.