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AIF Youth Group Launches 'Change India' With Clinton Fellows

Swini Garimella



The American India Foundation’s Boston chapter recently launched its youth group with a well-attended event, Change India, focusing on grassroots development in India on February 27th at the MIT Sloan Laboratory. The New England Young Professionals Chapter  (NEYPC) invited three alumnae from the William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service in India to speak about their experiences working with a nonprofit in India for a year. The event was designed to get young professionals in the greater Boston area involved in the work that AIF does in India either through service in India or by participating in the group’s fundraising activities throughout the year.


            The focus of the event was on the three Clinton Fellows. Arun Gupta worked with the organization Seva Mandir in Udaipur, organizing dal farmers into a collective to get better prices for their crops. He spoke about the challenges of bringing the farmers together and convincing the local panchayats to allow the farmers to process and sell their own crops, cutting out the middlemen.


            Maria Kasparian worked with Street Survivors India in the Murshidabad District of West Bengal. She worked on a project named Streeshakti, a mediation program that aims to help women who have been victims of crime. She also worked with the project Swyamshakti, which helped women obtain materials for and sell textiles with their local craft of embroidery.


            Meenakshi Agarwal spoke about her experiences in the very first generation of Clinton Fellows working in Gujarat in the aftermath of the earthquake. She worked with women in the area, helping them rebuild their homes and livelihoods. All three of the alumnae spoke about how their experiences in India have affected their lives and careers today; all of them have continued their work in development.


            A lively panel discussion followed their presentations, moderated by Raj Sharma and Venkat Srinivasan, both AIF trustees based in Boston, who also presented AIF’s broader vision and current work. The speakers provided an inspirational start for AIF Boston’s new youth group, started by Aditya Undurti, Parul Agnihotri, Prabhod Sunkara, Shalini Dutta, Swarupa Purandare, Swini Garimella, and Vimi Mirchandani. The main objectives of the group are to raise awareness about AIF, adopt and support one AIF Initiative each year by raising funds through various fund raising programs, and develop and nurture a strong assembly of young professionals in New England to be future leaders and donors of various AIF programs.


The initiative for the 2010 year is the Rickshaw Bank project, which helps rickshaw pullers in India buy their own vehicles in less than two years.  The NEYP’s next event will be the annual AIF Boston Bike Ride on April 17th to benefit the Rickshaw Bank Project. If you are interested in participating in the bike ride, please visit http://www.aifoundation.org/events/bostonbikeride2010.htm. To contact the NEYPC, email boston.aif@gmail.com or visit their Facebook groups page.

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