Asha Zurich Minutes

Date: September 22, 2004
Venue: ETH HG F 33.2

Minutes by: Vishwa
Attendees : Bikram, Santosh, Vishwa, Sajid, Chidu, Arvind, Gregory, Priyanka.

This meeting was called to discuss about the Dhule project and to take a descion on this project. Chidu summarized the project. The summary can be found in in a separate link in the minutes page. Some salient points are:

  1. This project was taken up by Asha Zurich via Asha India Focus Group (IFG)
  2. Asha volunteers Shubhasree and Shanmuga had made the site visit in October 2003.
  3. It is a project in Dhule area in Maharashtra. It is a tribal area bordering MP. The project is about education of the tribal children and also regarding agriculture, water harvesting etc.
  4. The project run by Vishwa Mandal Sevashram covers about 400 children, in 25 different classes spread out in different villages. These villages have no public transportation system or any kind of roads connecting each other. The organisation is registered in Mumbai and has an FCRA clearance.
  5. The total proposal is about Rs.5,09,000.00
  6. Asha Zurich started looking at this project from Feb 2004.

After this , there were lots of questions raised about the project. They are summarized below:

Bikram: How are these classes funded till now.
Chidu: According to Father Godfrey, it is mainly be local donors in Mumbai, some donors form Germany and Italy.

Bikram: Is the focus of the project only on education?
Chidu: No, there are many other areas in which Father Godfrey is working on from the past 12 years. But the project submitted to Asha has basic education as the main theme.

Santosh: Although this organisation has no solid funding from any other big organisation, Father Godfrey alone seems to be doing lots of activities in these villages. How is this possible? He does not have many volunteers and it seems like more of one man show. Is that correct?
Chidu: He has many paid volunteers and everyone works for him. Motivation is the main factor which makes them to work towards their goal. The organisation started in 1969 and father Godfrey is working there from the last 12 years. So there will be some one when he retires.

Santosh/Arvind suggested that in the MoU between Asha Zurich and the Vishwa Mandal Sevashram and it should clearly state the secular nature of the project.

Santosh felt that the teacher's salary of Rs.600.00 per month is too low. But Chidu told that the teachers are not working full rime.

Arvind: If the organisation is getting money from other people and since there are many different projects going on under Vishwa mandal Sevashram, can we be sure that our money would go to those paid volunteers who would do the work related to our part of the project only?
This point will be discussed with father Godfrey by Chidu

Chidu told that there are many positive points about this project and its hard to think of any negative points. Sajid also supported his view. Chidu feels that father Godfrey is aware of many things and the communication between Father Godfrey and him is very good. Father Godfrey responds to his letters or emails very fast.

Arvind raised a point that we should learn from our past mistakes in the projects and look for the negative or positive points in this project accordingly. And he also mentioned that we must make sure that there are people around or near that areas who can make site visits.

Sajid felt that Rs.5,09,000.00 is too much for this project and it should be cut down, His concerns was that whether Asha Zurich, with its current commitments to three other projects, will be able to generate that much fund per year or not.

VOTING: No one present was against funding he project. Seven people said yes and one abstained (out of total 8)

Action items:
We decided to fund the project but only partially to start with, that is Asha Zurich's level of involvement in the project will be limited initially. Instead of Rs.5,09,000.00 we decided to fund Rs.3,00,000.00 (approx. CHF 8000) for the first year. Chidu will talk with Father Godfrey about this and will work on the MoU. Chidu will also get details about the organisation strcure of Vishwa mandal Sevashram as it seems to be one man show now. Arvind will probably make a sit visit during end of October this year.

Bikram told that we should ask Father Godfrey about his ideas of preparing a second generation of management in the organisation for the long term sustainability of this NGO. And also the extent of involvement of the local community.