New face to the age old work

Here is the story of someone who has once again proved that nurturing individuals in an atmosphere of concern for the poor and excluded can empower the society. Ms.Vanitha Chinnasamy, Founder Trustee,
Aanand Charitable Trust, Chennai recalled all her observations of her parents and grandparents who were into charity for a long time. “Being in medical profession, they were able to adjudge the need for
extra care and help for those who cannot afford or comprehend all the treatment procedures remarks Vanitha, who felt that her family’s work was largely adhoc, unorganized and could make a greater impact if implemented in a systematic manner. Here lies the foundation of this trust.

Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, her academic credentials are spread across three disciplines – Public Administration, Social Work, and Law. She completed her Master’s Degree in Public Administration
in Andhra Pradesh. Her relocation to Chennai after marriage did affect her social interests in terms of getting started with a formal set up. Nevertheless, she always kept her channels open for learning.
She attended a number of Diploma courses, participated in various seminars and workshops, all of which sharpened her idea of starting her own non-profit organization. During the same time, her engagements in
multiple initiatives earned her the membership with Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), Red Cross, Human Rights groups, Lions Club, Helpage India and many others.

Interestingly, Vanitha completed her masters in Social Work and the degree in Law only a few years back, after her children joined college She does not regret the big gap post her wedding. “It gave me
quality time to prepare myself to do what I have always wanted to do she says. With the support of her husband and family, she began with her family’s forte – organizing medical camps in rural areas. This gave
her the confidence to start her own social enterprise and led to the establishment of the Trust in 2007. “All things fell into place just after I returned from my holyland she smiles. Vanitha came to know about CSIM through a friend and underwent the fourmonth Social Entrepreneurship Outlook Programme. “I was encouraged and given opportunities to know more people in the social work sector. I participated in
structured fundraising programmes like Battle of the Buffet and this helped me to raise funds for my
organisation The idea of her own trust was strongly backed by her observations of people being exploited in some circumstances, during the process of serving them, defeating the very purpose of such groups coming into existence. “Such intimidating scenes disturbed me and I decided to start something on my
own to reach out to people who are in need,” she says.

Vanitha seems to be extremely wary about institutions that just come around to take the stories from people here and walk away. “There is a lot of work going on at multiple levels. Yet, the change we all
dream of seems to be distant. This calls for effective monitoring at the grassroot level she emphasizes. Every time she went for the camps or other programmes, she had insisted the people to participate in
different programmes and gift themselves a new opportunity.

Aanand Charitable Trust, located in Padi at Chennai, focuses on women, children and the aged. Inspired by Vanitha’s work, many of her friends and onlookers have come forward to support the Trust. Children come to the centre for studying in the evening; they also attend the training programmes organized periodically – on personality development and other soft skills. Those found eligible for sponsorships are also
helped with. The drop out students are counseled and encouraged to get back to school, with help if required.

Vanitha feels that the platform provided by CSIM is the main reason behind what Aanand CharitableTrust is today. “CSIM has given us that visibility which we ourselves might not have been able to create. Wherever we go, donors and other friends know about us and come forward to devise programmes for our beneficiaries
Presently, there are 60 children who are supported regularly by our centre. Their educational, medical and other expenses are maintained through contributions sourced from individuals. The Trust office maintains a record for every child, and updates details related to progress in education/vaccinations/medical treatment.

More than 400 women have benefitted from the medical camps organized by the trust. In the recent medical camp that reached out to 200 people, 13 cataract operations were administered free of cost and 45 pairs of spectacles have been distributed. The camps organized in collaboration with Dental Foundation were also a success, distributing kits to more than 150 people. “Besides contribution from friends and other donors
what is more encouraging for us is to see people like you and me coming forward to celebrate birthdays, wedding anniversaries and other family occasions with us remarks Vanitha who makes it a point to
celebrate birthdays of women and children at the centre, with special invitees on board, eventually turning out to contribute for the Trust’s work.

Simple and consistent efforts from her side are only complemented by her belief that genuine work will always find its way out. “It just has to go through the grind and the system says Vanitha. Vanitha has a dream very close to her heart – establishing a home for the aged in Hyderabad, where her parents were
running a clinic several years ago. She is also convinced about introducing the co-existence of paid and unpaid services model in this home so that the maintenance charges are met through internal sourcing
of funds. Lets wish Vanitha all the very best!