Source: Connect – Canada in India
Since 2008, the East Meets West Orphans Foundation (EMW) of Canada has been helping to provide medical treatment and education for orphans and abandoned and destitute children in Kolkata through an agency agreement with the Indian Society for Sponsorship and Adoption (ISSA). Spearheaded by its president, Order of British Columbia-recipient, Mohini Singh, and ten other board members, EMW is supported by Canadians from all walks of life.
A registered charity through the Government of Canada, EMW has provided over 90 children with education, essential medical care and surgical procedures; many of whom have been adopted by families in India, Canada and other countries. In 2012, EMW sponsored the “Bara Anduliya Crèche” daycare centre for underprivileged children from three to six years of age, which helped provide more than 30 young children with food, early education and medical care.
Examples of EMW’s support are ISSA’s homes Nava Jeevan (for children upto two years of age) and Nava Diganta (for children between the ages of two and 14) which provide specialized medical care and cater to development and education needs of children abandoned at an early age. Such support has recently helped provide surgery and medical care for two infants Subarna (born with a cleft palate and dislocation of both hips) and Ram (suffering from high respiratory distress, malnourishment and developed sepsis).
Through efforts such as a fundraiser organized together with the Deepak Binning Foundation, contributions by the Calgary Foundation and support from individuals such as Kelowna philanthropist Thomas Budd, EMW raised over $30,000 in 2012 and increased awareness among hundreds of Canadians to the plight of millions of impoverished children across the globe.
At the Deepak Binning Dinner fundraiser to be held on 26 October 2013, together with the Deepak Binning Foundation, EMW will also raise money for cancer research and support institutions such as the Cancer Centre and the University of British Columbia in the Okanagan. With an India theme, featuring Indian music, food and attire, the event is held each year to honour the memory of Deepak, a young Indo-Canadian victim of cancer. The organization says, “It is important to help people in our new home, Canada and our native country, India.”
Meet Mohini Singh: With a long and distinguished career as a radio and television journalist, Mohini Singh is a staunch advocate of women and children’s rights both in Canada and around the globe. She has supported issues as diverse as helping victims of spousal abuse, literacy, and the plight of orphans in India. She continues to struggle to overcome challenges such as multiple sclerosis, but that hasn’t hindered her efforts. Ms. Singh was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 2008, the highest civilian award by the Province of British Columbia. She went on to be awarded the Sarah Donalda-Treadgold Memorial Award Woman of the Year for Kelowna in 2009 and the Queen Elizabeth II diamond jubilee medal in 2012. She also became the first Indo-Canadian woman to be elected to the Kelowna City Council in 2011. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s quote “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” Ms. Singh’s efforts and initiatives led to the creation of the East Meets West Orphans Foundation in 2008.
Sharing her thoughts in a conversation with us, Ms. Singh said, “Everyone has the power to make a difference, no matter how big or small it is. When you take the first step others will follow and that will lead to change. My hope is to help people get back on their feet and lead fulfilling lives whether it is in Canada or in India. Together we can make a difference. I know what we are doing through EMW may be very small when you compare it to other organizations, but my hope is that in the long run we will make a huge difference. ISSA is an amazing organization and we are honoured to partner with them. For the future we are looking at another education project in Punjab for orphaned girls.”
About the East Meets West Orphans Foundation: With a mission statement of, “improving the lives of abandoned children by providing healthcare, education and necessary medical treatment for children living in orphanages in developing nations,” the foundation is administered by its board of directors – Vern Nielsen, Caryl McCabe, Kam Boparai,Scott Matthies,Mohini Singh, Andy Virk, Medha Prabhu,Laurence East, Harjeet Sangha, Gwen Zilm and Sharon Shepherd.
About the Indian Society for Sponsorship and Adoption (ISSA): Headed by its Founder Secretary Mrs. Saroj Sood, ISSA is a non-profit child welfare organisation established on 16th December 1975 with a committment “to help abandoned and destitute children in whichever manner conducive to their welfare; either through permanent rehabilitation or sponsorship in the form of education, medical treatment etc.”