Bhikhu Vyas om TUFFs insatser i Indien:
Our team of V. P. S. S. from Valod & Dharampur convey best wishes when Tuff is completing 50 fruitful years and celebrating the Golden Jubilee. V.P.S.S. has a strong bond with Tuff. We feel proud for that. We have as well friendship with dozens of Swedes for nearly last 4 decades. Fondly but sadly enough I remember at this moment several devoted friends who have left this world. This occasion as well reminds me of my chance meeting [First Contact - 1979] in Bombay with Ake Sandin and Tuff delegation. That was the beginning of our cooperation. Rest is history.
Let me thank Tuff for its sustained efforts to provide wonderful opportunity from day one - without a break. to the kids of our schools, hidden in deep forest and mountains. More than 10000 kids from underprivileged section of the society are benefited so far. Dozens from them who otherwise may not have seen the face of the school have got decent jobs after completing University Education. About 1000 are doing petty jobs or are self - employed. A few are now better farmers after finishing their studies. Some of them have joined like - minded NGOS to serve the poor.
’Operation One Day Work’ [OODW] is a unique and highly successful concept of Tuff - with substantial results for Dharampur and many needy communities. To observe OODW in action in Kumla [from where Tuff began its journey] is a memory of our life. The outcome of the DAY through voluntary jobs of the students from several schools provided education to hundreds of kids in this illiterate society. On account of the impact of our schools and schools from Sister - NGOS, there are now government schools in each and every village. Since last 10 years about 400 past students have taken up different vocational courses, with the scholarship [initiated by Tuff] and later on provided by many well - wishers of the Project. After completing Gymnasium about 200 students have joined Engineering – Information Technology [IT] – Nursing - Social Studies -Teachers' Training & General Science. Some 10 past students have joined Dharampur Project as teachers and workers.
You may not be aware that this holistic project [2 major fronts : Education & Livelihood Opportunities] survived for the first 10 years of its life solely on Tuff [& Sida] support. Of course, help also followed from other sources for the rest of the years. But the first decade was so crucial, as we never entertained government aid.
I cannot overlook deep [so emotional for some activities] involvement of Tuff in our ''Smile for a while'' Balwadies [Child Centers] program for the kids of under - privileged Koytas [sugarcane cutters] living around Valod amidst inhuman living conditions of slum - type camps. The voice of one lady activist is as if ringing in my ears at the moment. While in a ship [for quiet planning from Sweden to Finland] she spoke out loudly - when she knew that we are shifting to far - off Dharampur area; ' Then what will happen to the kids of our Balwadies? ' I had to console her with a long explanation. Such was the concern for the poor and neglected. When finally we shifted [1987/88] to poorer, farther and invisible Dharampur, I fondly recollect that Ake - Gunnar were witness to this turning point in our social work.
Second nice program is mango plantation [Mangograms] in Dharampur. It proved such a grand success on account of the continuous support provided by many a Tuff members and other kind donors for the last two and a half decades, without a miss At this juncture I will like to mention those 3 'Mango Girls' who worked so hard for mangograms [they even visited Dharampur to take a video] even after leaving Gymnasium. How can we forget one old lady ? She asked the friends and relatives not to send gifts on her birth - day; but instead send the corresponding money to Tuff, finally to reach us for 'Mango Program'. What a love! So far 144000 mango saplings have been distributed [at half price] to poor aboriginal families - making a wonderful impact on the economy in this vast area consisting of 180 villages and touching the life of over 100000 people. Tons of mangoes are grown, sold and consumed.
With Tuff support we are privileged to visit Sweden so often. We enjoyed great hospitality of many families. I will like most humbly to thank them. I am 87 and my wife Koki is 79; so now there are no possibilities for us to revisit our beloved Sweden. But the memories of those exciting days are ever fresh in our hearts. The visit by about 100 [may be more] Swedes of our schools and development programs is a record in itself.
Now there is great progress in the educational scenario – when we compare with the situation a little over 3 decades back, when we first entered this dark zone. Some government schools were there, but hardly few students attended them and the teachers visited schools only casually. Now every child goes to school even in the remotest and farthest corner.
Finally, let me congratulate Tuff and to be specific Swedish Sister Schools for making above - mentioned progress to happen. The MARCH is on and on. We foresee a bright future for this block which is now no more backward as before. We wish Tuff many many returns of the day and success as eve, in its mission.