Free pediatric assistance, medical prevention through a balanced daily diet, guaranteed standard education in comfortable schools. Since 2002, Fondazione Zegna and Care & Share have been working together to improve the quality of life for poor and needy kids in the Krishna district of the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. The collaboration arose by chance, thanks to an idea of a mutual friend who over the last ten years has launched a number of projects designed to alleviate the social, economic and health problems of over 1,200 children and foster the development of their human potential. The architect of these successes, alongside the Zegna family, is Carol Faison, who in 1991 undertook a venture, in India, that was to lead six years later to the foundation (with her husband Noel Harper) of Care & Share Charitable Trust in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh, India) and in 2000 of Care & Share Italia Onlus. We asked her to share with us some highlights of this decade – memories and emotions – and explain the projects she has in the pipeline. The idea of founding Care & Share came to you after traveling in India, right? In fact, my brother, Antonio Rigopoulos, went there first, when he was still a student. On his return, he told us he’d met a Catholic priest who looked after the children of fishermen on an island where there were no schools. He wanted to help this priest somehow and his enthusiasm persuaded me to take up the cause, with all my heart. Within a year I got various relatives and friends to sponsor a hundred or so kids in the place and we soon reached 300. In 1995 though, the priest suddenly died, so I decided to go there and make sure “our” kids were being properly looked after. That was how I met my husband, Noel Harper, with whom I founded Care & Share India in 1997. Can you tell in a few words about the tragic conditions these Indian children live in? In 1999, the year I married, I was living at least eight months a year in India. Even now I sometimes close my eyes and try to understand the experience of living in such poverty. The answer is this: if you’re not born into such conditions and live in them every moment of your life, you’ll never understand. Everyone arriving there for the first time says the same thing: “I didn’t know it was like this”. How did your collaboration with Fondazione Zegna start? It started in 2002, thanks to a mutual friend. I introduced myself to Anna Zegna and she immediately decided to sponsor care for an Indian street child, Nirisha. Two of her sisters had just starved to death and the parents asked us for help. Nirisha has grown into a young woman now, studying pharmacy at the university: she was the best student at her school. Our collaboration started officially when I accompanied Anna Zegna to Vijayawada to meet Nirisha. The first project we undertook together was the atelier Zegna, a shed in which we teach kids tailoring. The venture now employs 20 people and produces 25,000 suits and school uniforms a year for Care & Share’s children and staff. Of all the projects you’ve worked on, which have achieved the most significant results? The real turning point in our collaboration was after the tsunami in 2005, which devastated the area and swept away the only school there. Fondazione Zegna made a big donation and has been supporting us ever since. It’s hard to choose between our projects: they’ve all been vitally important. There’s the village where we fight the scourge of AIDS, where the Zegna family decided to build two homes for old folk (Nina Home and Gildo Home). Or the payment of wages for teachers at Daddy’s Home, where around 1,200 kids are educated. This Christmas, as in previous years, Fondazione Zegna is supporting a special project. What is it this time? We’re building two deep wells to tap the groundwater. Two years ago the government decided to shut off a canal that guaranteed the water needed for local agriculture. These two wells are crucial, they’ll guarantee two harvests a year. Fondazione Zegna is also donating, this Christmas, a large sum to keep the children at Daddy’s Home, who live on 730 euros a year. Lastly, to assure for next year too the 5,000 meals we serve everyday to Indian children, we will be helping to develop a food self-sufficiency program which will make it possible to produce part of their legume, vegetable and fruit requirement. Find out more about Fondazione Zegna/Care & Share projects
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