This was a busy year for THF. We started several significant projects in our core areas. Research and great partnerships have made it possible for us to provide simple and effective ideas to people across India, that have in turn, improved the quality of their lives.
A new phase of our UK 2020 commitment looks at integrated village development. The entire team played a great role in researching and collecting data to ensure we studied all facets of development required in the region. We are managing large-scale projects, spread across 500 villages in eight districts, to improve the quality of education, health and hygiene, protecting and preserving the environment as well as providing economic opportunities, so that self sufficiency and a wealth of resources can be created for the people of Uttarakhand. I look forward to sharing their progress with you in future reports.
For our disability projects, we are working with experienced international organizations as well as our own Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to improve the plight of the disabled people in India. India is still a country where the disabled have no access, no equality and in many cases, no voice. In 2010, one of the foundation’s earliest grants went to fund Disability Awareness before the 2011 Indian Census. Today we are working with the State and Center governments on their National Trust program, a scheme for people with disability that offers solutions of accessibility and inclusion for education, employment and residential facilities.
Our partnership with Keystone Human Services International has resulted in workshops with non-profits and other share-holders such as family and community groups. The idea is to have a consistent practice and presence throughout India, one aligned with a rights-based approach for every citizen of our country. We are also working on a framework for deinstitutionalization of India’s mental health institutions, instead underlining the need of a community-based approach.
This year at Clinton Global Initiative in New York, The Hans Foundation also entered the MhNow (Mental Health Now) Commitment, which hopes to have a consortium of partners promoting and spreading awareness and solutions for mental health issues, across 30 international cities before 2030.
As keynote speaker at TIECON San Jose, I was able to share how THF constantly uses and promotes new technology designed to benefit social entrepreneurship. As sponsors of NDTV’s The Real Deal show, we were able to connect with brilliant new designers and inventors, all working on tools to ease life in rural and semi-urban areas. It was also a wonderful and humbling experience to listen to my fellow speakers, many of whom were children and teenagers, thinking and speaking about global solutions to improve the quality of life for children all across the world.
The Hans Foundation is excited about entering a new year with so much promise. High expectations only make our work more challenging and fun. As always I ask you to support us in any way possible.
I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2017.
Since founding The Hans Foundation in 2009, our vision for India has been one in which everyone — no matter their caste, age, gender, education level, or geographic location — has the ability to make a living and to access health care. Our aim was to find ways to help those who lacked the means to help themselves, and get them to a place where they could, above all, earn livelihoods.
We’ve made significant progress towards that vision through the hundreds of organizations and programs we’ve funded, such as school lunch programs that incentivize school attendance and boat-based health clinics that serve areas without roads and during times of severe flooding. We’ve built infrastructure, including two hospitals that have already served over 100,000 people. I’m very proud of the impact we’ve had thus far.
To complement the work of The Foundation and its partners in India, our team in the United States has founded an invention shop called Stage 2 Innovations. Located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, USA, the purpose of Stage 2 is to create, develop, and distribute simple, effective, and affordable products that will enable people — first in India, and eventually worldwide — to meet their basic needs in the areas of water, electricity, and health care.
The story of those inventions is featured in a documentary we produced entitled, Billions in Change. We founded a movement by the same name when the film was released, and it now serves to spread the word about our work and to announce news and updates related to new or existing inventions. For example, our electricity-producing bicycle, which when pedaled for an hour can provide a day’s worth of electricity for a rural household, was piloted in India this past spring among two dozen rural households, small businesses, and schools. The results of the pilot were amazing: seamstresses are now able to double their incomes because they have lights and can sew at night; students are able to access the internet for the first time, opening their minds to a new universe of ideas; small shops and health clinics are able to serve customers and patients after dark instead of shutting their doors at sunset. You can read further details about Billions in Change and our various inventions here in this report or by visiting www.billionsinchange.com.
What The Hans Foundation and Billions in Change have done collectively so far is a great first step. But if we are to reach our goal — which is helping all of India’s poor achieve livelihoods and access to health care — our job has just begun. In the next few years, we anticipate making some giant strides towards that goal. It’s going to be hard work — some may say it’s impossible — but that’s what makes it so much fun.
Principal Donor, Founder
Last year I wrote about consolidation phase, Uttarakhand 2020, policy changes and forging new alliances. Largely we have been able to achieve our goals. The pace of work has been hectic and sometimes demanding. Another THF office has been set up in Dehradun to coordinate statewide development program under Uttarakhand 2020. In the midst of this busy schedule, Billions in Change featured in November last year, which caught the imagination of the entire nation and the international community. We have included a special feature on it in this report.
In continuation of our commitment for statewide development, THF signed a historic MoU with the Government of Uttarakhand on 23 November 2015. Soon after, another landmark MoU was signed with the National Trust, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in December 2015 to jointly work on their nation-wide program in the disability sector. Keystone Human Services International set up an office in India post signing the MoU, to work in the disability sector with the objectives of strengthening and capacity building of our NGO partners, advocating deinstitutionalization. Keystone India Institute has in their first year of operations done commendable work.
As we enter into the second year of UK 2020, there has been significant developmental activity taking place across Uttarakhand. A consortium of donor NGOs has been formed to jointly undertake and complement the work in common areas of interest. Of all the initiatives, Integrated Village Development Program and providing electricity to the last mile villages/hamlets, 10,000 houses is the most ambitious and challenging endeavor undertaken by the Hans Foundation in the state.
We have consciously undertaken some big projects this year in partnership with leading organizations which will have large-scale impact on ground. Rejuvenation of Kumudavati river in districts of Karnataka and Manjra River in Marathawad, Maharashtra are projects of national import and can change lives of hundreds of thousands of farmers in these states. Partnering with Tata Institute of Social Sciences in opening a university in Nagaland is another such endeavor.
The Hans Foundation has made major forays into North Eastern parts of our country – Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, to reach out to the most neglected areas of these states. Some of the major initiatives have been planned for the ensuing years for which a lot of groundwork has already been completed. With our ongoing projects in 29 states and 130 NGO partners and UK 2020 we have an onerous and a monumental task ahead.
As we enter into the eighth year, it has been an incredible journey for a young organization like ours to attempt so much in such little time. I wish to acknowledge the contribution of all our partners and the hard work of each member of my team without whom it would not have been possible.
A Very Happy New Year.
Lt Gen S M Mehta (Retd) AVSM, SM VSM**
Chief Executive Officer