Friend in Need Trust was created after the Tsunami of December 2004 to rehabilitate the village of Kameshwaram near Nagapattinam that had been significantly affected by the tsunami. The purpose was to work towards ensuring economic and social security for the villagers, through implementing a series of developmental projects; in a Franco-Indian collaboration. The originality of FIN is that it was created and still led by an academic, an economist, Shyama V. Ramani, based in France, and it functions as a research-action unit with the strong participation of students and volunteers from various walks of life. We document the entire process truthfully, both successes and failures and especially highlighting the failures and the reasons for the same, so that others can learn from our experience.
The evolution of this project over time is summarized in the YouTube video featuring Professor Shyama’s presentation at TEDxMaastricht.
By 2013, Friend in Need evolved into the social enterprise FIN-SWAM. SWAM stands for Sanitation, Waste And Management and FIN-SWAM functions as a labor managed social enterprise. At present, it is a social venture, dependent on funds raised by Shyama from a variety of sources, but the objective is to make FIN-SWAM self-sustaining in 5-6 years, with the revenue entirely coming from the payments for its services from the residents of Kameshwaram.
Presently, we are working towards the following:
- Develop skilled and capable personnel from the village population who will provide sanitation and waste management services in Kameshwaram and nearby villages.
- Develop standard environmentally sustainable toilet designs.
- Create new designs that make ecological toilets as attractive or even more attractive than toilets with septic tanks.
- Create awareness on the need for toilets and waste maintenance and their sustenance.
- Create a waste management system with the maximum recycling within the village.
- Evolve documentation methods for quality audits of the main activities of FIN-SWAM.
- Develop skilled and capable personnel from the village population who can implement the documentation and quality control protocols.
- Develop skilled and capable personnel from the village population who can teach all of the above to residents of other villagers and NGOs.