SIFI, officially established in June 2011, is less than two years old. Since its inception, it has focused on the sole objective of creating impact and changing lives. What sets SIFI apart is its core principle that lays emphasis on not just donating funds, but investing them in order to reap return. Our investment is not confined by monetary boundaries, but extends to take various forms that are instilled in our values such as due diligence and transparency, sustainable guidance etc. Guided by our core values, we have taken proactive efforts to evolve and reinvent ourselves. In such an attempt, we reached out to Ms Vardhini, Founder, Littles Trust in Madurai. Here are excerpts from the interview.
1) What is your philosophy behind partnering with SIFI? How would you describe our due-diligence process of meeting with you, surveying your activities, appraising teachers, and checking feasibility of the project before going ahead?
Our partnership with SIFI started with the introduction of Littles to Mr.Venkatesh and Mr.Sriram through a common friend Mr.Srinivasan from AID India, Chennai. In September 2011, Sriram called me, introduced himself and enquired about our future plans. On 2nd October, the 9th annual day function of Littles was celebrated where Mr.Sriram was the special guest. Chinnammal one of our Little Star was running around with bright smile and I introduced her to Sriram. We talked about her and the quality of education these children get in their schools. This triggered our thoughts to concentrate more into Learning Disabilities project. In April, we identified the children, screened the IQ level of children with the psychologist and since then we have started our work with children with learning Difficulties.
Looking back, I found the entire process quite interesting, meaningful and with lots of learning from the field at the grass root level.
2) What do you have to say about the process of structuring the role of SIFI (75% of total cost will be covered by SIFI, and the rest by you and the parents), the timeline of contribution, our promptness in paying the amount etc?
Our toughest challenge is collecting the money from parents who think their children are ‘good for nothing’. But this has helped us to sensitize the community on the potential of such children, along with the kind of opportunities available. The payment from SIFI has been very prompt and systematic.
3) Do you think we have exhibited professionalism in our methods?
Yes, of course. We came up with an MOU for the project, undertook discussion for negotiation and made a few changes before signing it on a stamp paper. The visits made by two interns over the summer and regular visits by other representatives of SIFI have not just been professional, but extremely cordial too.
4) Could you give some insight into our method of reviewing progress?
To be frank, Littles Trust is new to this kind of intervention- focusing special attention on children with learning difficulties. The quarter-wise review, the interim evaluation, teachers’ progress report are helping us to assess not only the child but also the quality of our project.
5) Has SIFI gone out of the way in helping your organisation/community apart from this project? Are there instances of raising funds for a specific child or creating awareness among parents etc?
Recently, Chinnammal had Dengue fever, followed by brain fever and is still hospitalized (almost one month). The kind of support SIFI team extended is wonderful. We could support costs of her MRI, CT and overall treatment to some extent. The team has also taken the initative to interact with parents and teachers and provide necessary encouragement. The friendly phone calls from Aarthi to enquire about the status of the project are appreciable.
6) Do you have any specific expectations from SIFI in the near future?
I believe that SIFI’s support has to continue for a few more years to strengthen our initiatives in a sustainable way. This is because we need more time for the project to yield some concrete results. It would be great if SIFI could also take up a community project to sensitize the people on these issues.