The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shift signal from social service unit

After industry, it could be voluntary organisations.

The Usthi Foundation of India (UFI), a prominent voluntary organisation which provides free education, healthcare and food to over a thousand underprivileged children in North and South 24-Parganas, is planning to shift base from West Bengal to Orissa after serving here for more than two decades.

Founded in 1977 by a Swiss couple, Kurt and Edeltrud Buerki, and Milton McCann, UFI holds programmes revolving around education, community healthcare and imparting vocational training in South and North 24-Parganas. It runs two free schools (one at Usthi in South 24-Parganas and another at Hudait in North 24-Parganas), a home for streetgirls at Bangur and a development project in the slums of Dakshindari, where it runs a hospital as well.

But with no funds coming from the state government, UFI secretary McCann said the organisation was not going to reach out to any more underprivileged children in the state.

“We have approached the departments concerned several times for funds but got no response. So we will shift our concentration to Orissa,” he said, though adding that the ongoing projects here would not be summarily scuttled.

“I am planning model towns for tribals in Orissa’s Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput,” McCann disclosed. “In West Bengal, apart from getting moral support from the local-level administration, we received no real assistance from the government,” he added.

“We have been working in Orissa for 25 years and are already running several projects there. The Orissa government has given us 6,000 square feet of land in Bhubaneswar for a state-of-the-art hospital. For our Pentakata project for fishermen’s children in Puri, we have got a two-acre plot,” McCann said.

Talks were on with the Orissa government for getting land for a tribal township project as well, he said. “We plan to start by June,” he added, adding that irrigation would be a priority. A high school and a fully-equipped hospital are also on the cards, he said.

McCann also wants to generate funds instead of wholly depending on the donor agencies and state governments. “We will build a model school with modern facilities where children from affluent homes can study for a fee. The amount collected from the school can be channelised to the tribal township project,” McCann said.

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