canadians sharing locally & globally
How it all began...
We took inspiration for our charitable work and the establishment of Canadians Sharing Locally and Globally from the progressive social development we saw when we first visited India in the winter of 2000. It all started with an unexpected invitation from friends in Canada in the fall of 1999 to visit an impoverished rural area in South India. They invited us to visit and see some important humanitarian initiatives that were being undertaken by some quickly growing local organizations that were creating great changes in the very poor rural countryside.
We accepted their invitation and after thirty hours of travel from Canada we arrived in Chennai, formerly known as Madras, a little after midnight. It took us another four hours to make our way through small, sleeping villages to arrive in the early morning light. We arrived in Thirumalaikodi, a small rural village near Vellore in Tamil Nadu, South India, and were warmly greeted by our hosts.
Once there, we settled into a room in a brand new and unfinished building. We were quite surprised by the lack of many common amenities such as toilets, telephones, or Internet access. We met a handful of other Canadian and international travelers who were also visiting Thirumalaikodi with an interest in supporting humanitarian assistance. Once we overcame our jet lag, we excitedly toured the immediate village and eventually the countryside.
From what we saw, we felt the basic needs of the rural population were very great and were not being met well. The unmet needs were always related to living in the cycle of poverty and lack of health and educational opportunity to break that cycle. Much of the land was very arid and many people were getting by with barely enough food for their daily needs. The nearest hospital was the famed Christian Medical College in Vellore, but getting there was difficult for the villagers who needed medical assistance. People did not have the necessary funds to pay even the transit fare, or the medical fees. Villagers were also suspicious of a modern hospital with practices and procedures many people could not understand. In the village the lack of basic amenities such as clean water, medicine and sanitation created serious health risks for the poor. We began to understand the extent of the difficulties local people faced. We also realized the tremendous importance the local group’s humanitarian initiatives held for the future of people in Thirumalaikodi and the surrounding areas. With these gradual realizations, we happily got involved in all of the charitable programs we could find.