I have been asked by a few people to provide more details on our work and on our vision. I’ve taken the description below for our in-progress blog. It’s an ambitious vision but, we believe, achievable. Our vision combines community & inclusion with sustainability. Our guiding vision is that all development activities must be sustainable to be successful. This sustainability has three core areas:
The scope and frequency of hospitality and friendliness in India is, in my experience, unsurpassable. On every single day that I have spent there, I have been flooded with generosity, warmth and openness. There are however two days which stand above all others, the peak of experience on a very high mountain. The first was in the slums of Jaipur on the fourth day of my very first trip where I fell in love with India and the second was when I first came to Tirmasahun and knew I belonged there.
Tirmasahun is a rural village on the Uttar Pradesh/Bihar border (on the UP side), around 35km from the resting place of The Buddha in Kushinagar and 80km from the next city, Gorakphur. This is one of the poorest areas in the whole of India.
Having worked in complex programme management for many years, I knew that I had the necessary skills to set up and run an NGO but for the majority of NGOs, the main challenge is funding especially for the initial projects. Although grants from government bodies or private trusts are available on an application of merit basis, it’s hard, if not impossible to obtain such funding with only a vision and good intention. I knew that I had to obtain private funding for at least the first project, prove what the NGO would achieve and then explore other funding options from there.
I first travelled to India in January 2011 and within days fell madly, deeply in love. At first that love was the crazy, rushing kind of mixed up emotions, roller-coaster fantasy and the deep astonishment of being of the world but not recognising your place in it any more. In further trips, it turned to a deeper sense of belonging, later that intensified to one of purpose.
I had understood my duty to India very early and had contributed in my own small way to the misery and suffering I saw around me. First with individual contributions and later through collections via friends and acquaintances but each time I would return, I had an ever growing feeling of ‘it’s not enough’ and ‘I can do better than this’. Accompanying this commitment to India was also the increasing knowledge that I was becoming more and more dissatisfied with my corporate job.
United for Hope began as a NGO in late 2013 by a group of passionate individuals in Germany, Ireland and India committed to the empowerment of the poor and marginalized in rural India via sustainable and integrated village living.
Join us in our journey as we share the background of United for Hope, our struggles and successes in getting it off the ground, the planning and execution of our projects as well, the stories of the people we work with along with a host of other relevant news.