From the Swiss Alps to Pondicherry

Background Information

Claudia (client name changed) first visited Pondicherry in 2007, as part of an HFH volunteering team that came to build houses in a Dalit village on the outskirts of Pondicherry. During that trip, she came in close contact with the poor villagers and empathized with their plight. It is not often that volunteers return to evaluate the progress of the projects they have been involved in; however, it was different in Claudia’s case. After her first trip, Claudia’s experience with the local community had a profound impact on her, compelling her to return the following year to assess the benefits of the project. Since Chetak had handled the HFH volunteering group, Claudia requested the directors of Chetak to organize her second visit to Pondicherry.

Employed by a wealthy Swiss family who was eager to donate towards meaningful social work, Claudia stayed for several days in Pondicherry identifying various other projects that required funding. Trusting Claudia’s choice of projects, her Swiss employer decided to support projects in Pondicherry.

Chetak’s Value Addition

Vikram and Tarika are naturally inclined to extend help and participate in projects associated with children, particularly in the field of education. With this in mind, Vikram invited Claudia to the Rotary club meet and showcased several projects that he was personally associated with, in addition to those sponsored by the RCP (Mid-town). Among them were the Satya Special School, Shanti Bhavan, Nirvana School, Ramakrishna Vidyalaya, etc. (Read more: Responsible Company). Vikram spent considerable time explaining to Claudia the philosophy and purpose behind each project. Claudia in turn took deep interest in all the projects and met the concerned people that were running them on a daily basis. This gave her an opportunity to personally assess the sincerity and dedication of the volunteers. In addition, this visit gave her the occasion to meet Rotary members, evaluate the various projects at stake, and identify areas of future cooperation.


Claudia discussed with her employer the need for funding these various projects. After convincing the family to visit India, Chetak was given the charge of organizing their visit. Once in India, the directors of Chetak advised the family on the various steps involved in achieving each project. They further explained the budgets involved and the best way to execute these projects. The directors also facilitated a series of meetings with the major stakeholders of each project so that the Swiss family could have a direct interaction with the concerned people.

The time spent by the directors helped the Swiss family to arrive at a concrete understanding of how and where their funds would be utilised.

After several days of discussion, the Swiss family was ready to sponsor specific projects in Pondicherry. The organizations that benefitted directly from the funding of the Swiss family were Satya Special School, Nirvana School and Shanti Bhavan. Moreover, through the Rotary Club, the Swiss family has extended substantial help to various NGOs throughout the past years. Their passion and sincerity are well known throughout their network and these other friends in turn invest along with them on more projects in the region. This is a classic example of Chetak going beyond just providing travel services, but actually contributing to making a difference in the lives of under-privileged children through investing personal time and resources.

Other Projects with Claudia:

Donating an autorickshaw to Jwala

An NGO (Jwala) supporting physically challenged adolescent girls was in dire need for a small transport vehicle in order to commute inmates to the hospital for physiotherapy sessions. At that point, these children were being taken in hired auto-rickshaws and often drivers of these auto-rickshaws used to make fun of the patients. Until now, the Rotary club had financed this NGO’s monthly rations.

Noticing this problem and the embarrassment it caused to these girls, Vikram suggested this requirement to Claudia. She willingly accepted to pitch in and fund an in-house transport vehicle to stop their regular humiliation. The new auto-rickshaw was provided at a cost of USD 2,500. Vikram’s initiative & intervention ensured that the girls were provided with a dependable, private and humiliation free transport facility to and from the hospital thereby giving them better mobility and stress-free travel!

Shanti Bhavan Toddlers

Shanti Bhavan, part of a larger NGO, had adequate facility to house AIDS affected adults. However, it lacked facilities for the children of such patients. The organization was eager to create a “Home for Toddlers” to take in AIDS affected kids as well. Besides housing these children, they would be regularly taken to hospital for medical treatment hence ensuring that the quality of their lives improves! It was an ambitious project valued at USD 50,000.

The directors at Chetak once again reached out to Claudia, whose Swiss employer readily accepted to sponsor this facility and thus a “Toddlers Home” was created over a period of three years. Today 20+ children reside there and benefit from the services of this facility thanks to Vikram, Claudia, and her Swiss employer.