India: Colors, food, smiles, beauty, souls, contrasts and so much more.
My husband and I just returned from India (Bangalore, Delhi, and Agra) and I feel eager to share with you our trip, but first let me tell you about one of the highlights of our voyage. We were fortunate to see 2 of the programs of FXB (FXB International, FXB USA, FXB India Suraksha) in Delhi whose mission is to eradicate poverty, help build communities in remote villages, provide health assistance and protection to children and families in strong need.
Back in 2010, as I was on my way from Paris to Geneva on the TGV I sat next to Christine Eggs, Director of FXB International. We quickly bonded. She is smart, down to earth and never gets tired of fighting for what she believes in! She told me about the FXB Association, their work around the world, and about the FXB team in India run by Mamta Borgoyary. Later we all connected through social media, not really knowing each other but knowing that we’ll meet some day for real.
India has developed a lot over the last 30 years, lifting many millions out of poverty. There is still a long ways to go though as it’s not uncommon to see a 4 year old begging on the street or newborn sitting naked with their mother under a dirty bridge. I’m not sure I can describe it but it’s a hard thing to witness. The streets are packed and full of life, not just people but dogs, cats, monkeys, goats, and cows all making their way through.
We got to see some of FXB’s work in practice. It’s meaningful, well managed and impactful. We visited the #1098 center (a central line to help and assist abused children nationwide), and the slum of Noida where an FXB after school program is in place to take care and provide additional education for children who are falling behind in school.
My husband, Matt with Mamta Borgoyary, Anita Dayal and team at #1098.
It’s a way to make sure that they can have the opportunities they’ll need to build a good life. It’s obviously extremely dangerous too so it is important to provide a safe structure for them. At the school they teach them a variety of subjects, including English and math as well as practical education. The school is open 6 days a week. The children appeared to range from 3 to 15 years old I’d guess. The kids were so friendly and smart! They had many questions for Matt and I. We played math games (Matt’s idea obviously) and English/Hindi vocabulary questions with candies brought from the USA as a reward (so you know, don’t bring chocolate…It was 109 degrees)! When Matt shared with them that he wasn’t good at math at school at first but worked hard at it with his father to eventually get it and got very good at it, they all clapped. They even gave him a paper mache trophy! It was so cute! He didn’t expect it and turned red!
The children, boys, girls and one of the FXB teachers taught me how to dance, Indian style! I told them I was an actress and that it would be marvelous to be in one of the Bollywood movies some day – it’s ok to dream right?! Matt challenged me to teach them a dance as well, so I free styled and sort of jumped on Bruno Mars playing through our phone. They might have thought that I was really weird, and they would probably be right.
Anita Dayal from FXB/#1098 teaching us a dance.
Challenging Matt to dance too!
A girl in the class taught me about Indian Fashion as well, telling me that my dress was cute but Sarees are what they wear! The Indian fashion is gorgeous, elegant and light. She was really bright and I think she might be running her Indian fashion business some day!
With Sunita Ramdhari, Mamta Borgoyary, Anita Dayal and Geeta Chander in front of FXB after school program in the slum of Noida.
Mamta was so sweet and told them about a film called: Zero (Zero: Dawn of The Darklighters in which I have a lead role) as she heard about it through Facebook and had just seen the recently shared teaser. We feel so privileged to have seen part of FXB’s work and really encourage anyone to donate to FXB International. FXB India is managed by Mamta who is a phenomenal and bright woman. After studying development economics she has been dedicating her life to helping to lift large groups of people out of poverty. Their 3 year plan when it comes to working with villages is excellent, ensuring that after 3 years no more aid is needed. You can visit their page here for more info: https://www.facebook.com/fxbindiasuraksha . Matt and I made a donation, and we were very grateful as Intuit (the company Matt works for, who has an office in India) matched it. Every dollar counts!
FXB has also open sourced their FXBVillage Toolkit, describing in detail their methods to eradicate poverty in third world countries. This method was developed in conjunction with Harvard University and I believe they are the first to openly share their methodologies FXBVillage in this kind of detail. Albina du Boisrouvray, the founder of FXB has been generous and smart in sharing in this way. It is a valuable kit to whoever wants to apply its guideline and help make a difference in the world. Two of Harvard students will be in fact interning with FXB India in the Fall.
Hope you enjoy the photos of our time with the children at the slum of Noida and the FXB team. I’m honored to have been offered to be an Ambassador for FXB and I look forward to help in anyway I can. I stand for many things but one of them is certainly to protect children. I believe that by protecting and supporting them we will make them great adults and therefore a better world!
Namaste – Thanks, Caroline