Thursday, 30 August 2012

Benefit for the poorest

Thousands of mangrove saplings are planted each year

I want to say something about a friend of mine here in west Wales who is planning to celebrate her 60th birthday by organising a benefit for a project on the other side of the world.

Sarah Wright, who runs her own business, Sustainable Solutions, based in Cardigan,  is raising money for Mangro, a community based regeneration scheme in Orissa, one of the poorest regions of India.

It’s a cause close to her heart, as the project is run by a charity set up by her own family.
Sarah’s parents started the Integrated Village Development Trust (IVDT), which is based in Oxford, about 25 years ago.

One of the charity’s projects, MANGRO is a community-based mangrove regeneration initiative in Kendrapara, Orissa, where more than fifty villages are working, with the help of the charity, to protect themselves against the consequences of climate change, and to prepare for an uncertain future. This is where proceeds of Sarah’s benefit birthday party will go.

Sarah  said: 'In my 60th year I find myself one of the most fortunate people alive - I have a home with a bed of my own, running water, electricity, warmth, food in the cupboard, my children are alive and healthy, and so are my grandchildren.  I even have a parent still alive and independent.

 ‘In addition I live in a community where people are caring and friendly, there is no war, very little risk of crime, and the environment is beautiful.  Two things that disturb my peace of mind  are the continuing exploitation and damage to the natural world and the poverty and suffering of other people across the world.’
She added: ‘The Mangro project tries to tackle both of these things using very small amounts of money, by empowering ordinary people, especially those often disempowered such as women, children and the poor in general, to improve their own lives and the environment around them.
'So on my birthday I want to celebrate and support this project, and invite everyone who wants to to come and join me in celebration in Cardigan on the evening of September 22.’
IVDT is a small organisation with no paid staff. Trustees visit the various projects each year to monitor and assess progress, and carry out training of staff and volunteers, as well as running workshops for teachers in the area, women’s groups and children.

The charity’s priority is to help the most marginalised people – women and children, dalits and tribals. IVDT works in rural communities in parts of India which are being left behind by progress, leaving many people even more vulnerable than before.

It is also important to the charity that the project beneficiaries themselves become empowered and are able to take control of their future.

In addition to the work in India, IVDT is involved with campaigns in the UK, trying to address practices and change attitudes which have helped to create some of the most serious problems which are faced in the project areas.

For those who are local and want to support the cause, Sarah’s benefit birthday party is at the CastleCaf√© Cellar Bar in Cardigan on Saturday, September 22.

There will be live music, the bar will be open and Indian food will be served.

Tickets are £5 and are available at the Pwllhai producers’ market (Thursdays and Saturdays), at the Eco-shop in Cardigan and at the Castle Cafe.

To find out more about the IVDT Trust and how to donate, please visit the website:

   The MANGRO Nature Reserve was set up five years ago on derelict land. It is now a
   wonderful sanctuary for wildlife, especially birds.

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