Exciting new grant

JohnFoundation.JPG

We are delighted to share with our supporters news of a grant that we have made to the John Foundation. We have granted this remarkable charity $30,000 to build a new refuge home in India to house and train young women and children from dreadful circumstances and poverty;  to offer them security, love and most importantly vital training to become self sufficient and independent again.

The John Foundation does remarkable things and if we could just precis their work to give you some context and why we have given them such a substantial grant. 

The John Foundation was founded in 2007 by Saji and Cynthia John. Saji himself, had been one of sixteen children rescued and cared for in the Karnataka State of India by Swedish social workers. Saji owes his life and subsequent success to these good people and their work. Having experienced such hardship himself, Saji and his wife, Cynthia decided that they must offer a similar service to the many children in their region who have a desperate existence and are in desperate need.

This began in 2007 when a stranger approached the couple with two children, abandoned by their family and living on the slum streets of Hyderabad. These children became the first of many children rescued and rehabilitated by the John Foundation.

Most often, these children are rescued from sex traffickers. Children working as prostitutes or the unwanted children of prostitutes, their life circumstances are abject; their prospects are hopeless and bleak. Sadly, children are a resource and traffickers target poor areas, lying to their parents with promises of good jobs, only for the girls to become economic slaves in illicit factories or worse to be used as prostitutes.       

This disastrous reality is combatted by the John Foundation and from their unlikely beginnings, its achievements are tangible and remarkable. 

  • As of 2017, John foundation serves:
    • 202 orphaned and semi-orphaned children live in 17 Children’s Homes
    • 40 girls rescued from Commercial Sex Work and Temple prostitution live in 4 Restoration-Transformation Homes
    • 495 children of single mothers attend the Asha Back to School Program
    • 490 students at risk of school dropout receive tutoring in 17 Asha Tuition (tutoring) Centers
    • Over 4600 single mothers and girls who dropped out of school have attended the employable skills training program. Today, 89% of these students are employed

Of particular interest to The Brothers Trust is the emphasis and energy that the John Foundation invests in training to create independent young adults who can go on to lead successful lives.  Their slogan is - Bringing hope the sustainable way.

Along with other developing economies, India clothes the world. The snazzy and sought-after clothing brands that we all crave; there is a high chance that many of these garments are made in India. Textiles is one of the world industries and its demand for skilled workers is insatiable. The John Foundation recognises this and understands that possessing such skills  provides a pathway to success and independence.

Himself, a doctor, it is no surprise that Saji values the power of education to combat poverty and we are assured that his Foundation is confronting poverty by breaking the cycle with sustainable outcomes for the people it serves.

In the first instance, The John Foundation provides the love and care that traumatised children and young women require but central to its purpose is creating independence and to this end, it has a series of income generating endeavours which equally provide vital training opportunities also.

The Foundation has established two garment factories (ethically run and organised of course).  Similarly, a book shop and beauty parlour, a gift-line as well as the more formal education facilities that we all take for granted. And finally, Saji, with his business mind has founded a very successful series of micro-loans for people to establish businesses and truly become self-sufficient. An impressive 95% of all loans granted by the Foundation are repaid in full from the success of these businesses. 

The Foundation have acquired land for two more homes. Each home is 1450 sq feet and costs $20.55 per sq feet to build. They have applied to our trust for the money ($29,800) to build one of these homes. We have approved this grant in full.

We would like to add that the work of The John Foundation was brought to out attention by a trustee of The Brothers Trust who has visited India on many occasions where he has met  The John Foundation and seen their work and accomplishments. On our site, we will update you with photographs and news of the new building and the work that it can achieve and assure you that if any members of The Brothers Trust should visit Saji, the costs of any trips will not be borne by The Brothers Trust but by us personally.

Thank you for helping us and allowing us to make this grant. We encourage you to visit their site to learn more about their work. www.thejohnfoundation.org

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avengers Infinity War Screening

2018-05-12_0001.jpg

A little along the experience curve already, our latest event was the easiest and most successful to date. It was a private screening of Avengers Infinity War and it helps that the film has enjoyed the biggest opening in cinema history and that Tom is now much better established in his role within the MCU.

The theatre was packed with people who had travelled from all over the world. Across the buy it nows, raffle tickets, selfies and poster sales, the event raised over £50,000, all of which will now be distributed to worthy causes both here in the UK and abroad.

The day was great fun. The sun shone brightly and the only absence was Sam and Harry who are in Australia on their year off. Year off from what, I have asked?

As ever, thank you to everyone who attended and took part. People who won raffle tickets but were unable to attend will have received signed posters by now and we hope they are some consolation for not living close enough to the UK. We have big plans and hopes for our trust; for further such events, big and small and (eventually, such screenings in territories outside the UK) and we hope to offer Brothers Trust Merchandise at some point too.

We have a great video of the day to share once we have overcome the tech difficulties in uploading it!

2018-05-12_0003.jpg
2018-05-12_0004.jpg

 

 

Our tribute to James Dunn

2018-04-10_0005.jpg

James Dunn 13/07/1993 – 6/04/2018

A life that is lived to its maximum potential is a joy and a success; it is all anyone of us can hope for. Anything less is a shame and even a waste and in this noble quest, James Dunn showed us all the way to go.

I met James through the establishment of The Brothers Trust. Such was his influence on us all, meeting James alone is reason enough for establishing the trust and given the impact that he had on us all, it is remarkable that we knew him for less than less than a year.

We met James for the first time in July 2017, at the launch of our charity; a screening of Spider-Man, Homecoming at a private cinema for raffle winners and auction bidders to see the film and a chance to meet Tom. I was already aware of EB and its charity, Debra. I knew what a pernicious disease that EB is; memorably described by a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital as the worst disease that can blight anyone’s life. I was also attracted to its cause because of the lack of awareness of the disease which made it feel like a good fit for our trust. 

 

I viewed a video on-line of James having his wounds dressed by his mum. A heart rending watch, it moved me to tears and we invited James to our first event.

I was anxious on the day. There was much to think about. Winners had travelled from all four corners of the world but no attendees were dealing with the obstacles that James needed to scale. Wheelchair bound, I worried about his access to the cinema and the toilet not to mention our house later in the day for a photo-shoot. I fretted about everything until the family rolled up and I saw James’s beaming smile. James was not worried. He looked so excited, like a kid without a care in the world. Only James was not a kid of course. He was twenty-four when he died, his EB stunting and preventing his growth.

Regulars readers of this blog will know what blossomed between James and Tom from this original meeting. They met several times and in a short but exciting journey that took in TV appearances, dinner at the Langham with the country’s foremost chefs, a portrait campaign using James’ photograph and much else besides.

When people die, very often, clichés are used to depict their bravery and the impact that they had. I make no apologies for making these claims here now for James. He did light up a room. He was a force of energy and he was as brave as a lion.

So much to admire about James but what stood out above all else was his fortitude. We are all dealt different hands in life; with some people so seemingly blessed and others so blighted. James had a tough lot and so he had every reason to be disconsolate and complaining. In the times that I was lucky enough to meet him, he never once showed any anger or complaint and nor did he hanker for any pity. He just got on with his life. He had a verve for life which meant that his life was full, which is what we all strive for.

During our brief time, what we all hope to do is to leave our mark. To be survived by our children and hope that they prosper is such a mark. Other people manage more indelible legacies: Shakespeare, Stan Lee, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling…

James Dunn, too, has left his mark and in so many ways. The funds that he raised for Debra is an obvious place to start. Nikki’s idea to use James’ photograph of Tom now seems particularly inspired because it is a tangible reminder of James and it is fitting that his photo means so much to people and that they hang on walls across the world. We know this because we dispatched them ourselves to China, Australia, Brazil, America… The people who own these images and all the people who participated and contributed to this campaign, your kindness lives on in James’s legacy, so thank you.

But James’ greatest mark is his example of how he lived. Most poignantly for his fellow EB sufferers to note that the disease didn’t limit James in his life and what he was able to achieve. Travelling can be difficult at the best of times: inconvenient and even painful for the able bodied; imagine then the problems it posed for James and yet he travelled and took in the world.

And in a wider context, James is an example to us all. All of us tend to live our lives in bubbles. Of viewing life through our restrictions rather than our blessings and too quickly blaming others feeling sorry for ourselves. James didn’t do this at all and why meeting him was always so humbling. His EB caused him ongoing and constant pain such that daily morphine was part of his daily life. His injuries were on show for all to see and his pain was palpable. Even after his arm was removed and his cancer had returned and the treatment was only containment, James was busy making plans. Posting his videos and continuing his fight and always with that broad smile of his.

Any account of James’s life is incomplete without mention of his remarkable parents, Kenny and Lesley. The success of James’s life is a testament to their love and commitment to their son. They are a stoic couple, both so dignified and admirable. It is no mystery to me why James could thrive. Less loving and strong people could not have coped with a child like James and why Debra (www.debra.org) deserves our support and better awareness of the work that they do.

Meeting and getting to know James has been a privilege for us all. Of all the illustrious people that Tom encounters in his blessed life, in the short time that he has known James, I venture that his impact on Tom will be indelible and as marked as any.

James coined a moto for his himself in how to live his life - #LiveLaughLove

A simple philosophy but one that is perhaps easier said than done. James managed it with aplomb and why he is an example to us all.

Your pain is finally over James. Rest in peace and thank you.   

Happy Easter with a trip to the cinema

2018-04-01_0001.jpg

Reality check…

Quite a responsibility running a new charity as we are discovering.

Raising funds and then distributing monies to people in need. Making sure that the money is spent well and not wasted. Making a difference is the primary goal and as with all charities, we dream of the seismic changes; like helping along that vital piece of research which eradicates life limiting diseases like EB and all manner of cancers.

But as well as the big stuff – there is much joy and happiness in things that might seem incidental to us.

Going to the cinema is hardly a big deal for most the people reading this short post. When I grew up, going to the cinema was a treat and is perhaps why I can still vividly remember seeing Jaws with my mum and my brother. But nowadays, the cinema is hardly a big deal and if we don’t visit the Cineplex then we can simply stream movies straight in to our homes, no problem.

Last week, The Brothers Trust sent 200 children to the movies. 70 of whom had never been to the cinema before and the remaining going for only their second time.  These are kids who live in Kibera, the largest slum dwelling on earth. Coaches were hired to take the excited kids and staff to see FERDINAND – fill them with popcorn and hot-dogs and give these kids an experience that I venture they will never forget.

Less is more, as the saying goes – and because these kids have so little, it takes not very much to affect their lives.  From the photo montage in this post, it is obvious what this trip meant to these youngsters.

The Brothers Trust has big plans for their union with LunchBowl and their ongoing work in Kibera – but for now and until then, this Easter treat is something we are thrilled to fund.

Thanks to those of you who have made this help possible.

 

Happy Easter to you all.

Momentum Update...

A charity that we have supported is Momentum, a local charity, founded in the hospital where Tom and his brothers were born. Our trust awarded Momentum £6000 which is being used to fund a dedicated family support worker for a year. Momentum works to support young people who have life limiting illnesses which is predominantly cancer.

The support worker is a local mum whose own child is combatting cancer herself and so she is ideally placed to identify the needs and co-ordinate efforts; to develop a programme of communication, support and befriending activities amongst these young people. Empathy and kinship is key for young people anyway but especially so for young people dealing with such trauma. Our support worker has become a vital link between patients of 25 families across a number of hospitals in South West London. Money from our grant has been used to organise events like brunch meets, theatre trips and pamper evenings so that these teenagers and their families can enjoy themselves but also so they can form vital friendships of mutual support.

Teenage cancer is indiscriminate. Fighting it and coping with the disease must be all consuming. To have a charity like Momentum to help with this process must be a great help - which is why The Brothers Trust are delighted to be able to support Momentum and we will continue to do so. 

 

Thanks to you ....

2018-03-20-PHOTO-00000374.jpg

We wanted to give an update to our supporters on what has been done with the some of the funds that you have helped us to raise.

As previously reported, £16,000 was granted to Lunch Bowl – a charity run entirely by volunteers both in London as a fundraising hub and on the ground in Kibera, Kenya.

This money had been earmarked to buy land and to construct a school but the organisation ran in to obstacles with planning authority’s regarding lease charges and so it was decided that the deal was too risky and not a good use of our funds.

We hoped that this might resolve but since the legal concerns persist, we have asked Lunch Bowl to allocate the funds elsewhere rather than monies lying dormant in a bank account where it is no good use to anyone.

This has now been done and we are delighted to be able to report the following…

£8,500 has been allocated to fund the entire Kibera Lunchbowl Saturday dinner programme for a full year – providing a hot meal for over 400 orphans or vulnerable children every Saturday.

IMG_7318.JPG

£150 allocated to pay for and install a single solar panel to create light and power for two classrooms at the Angel Kindergarten that Lunch Bowl runs.

£150 to pay for and install a new shower at the orphanage.

£80  to pay for a wheelchair for a young boy called Jackson. He has cerebral palsy and his plight was recently brought to the attention of Lunch Bowl.

2018-03-20-PHOTO-00000368.jpg

A further £1040 has been put aside to provide Jackson with physiotherapy sessions for the next 12 months.

£6,164 allocated to provide all the food for 200 children at the Angel Kindergarten – breakfast, lunch and fruit for six months.

2018-03-20_0001.jpg

Thank you for supporting us. In doing so, you are directly helping some of the world's most vulnerable and needy people. 

And because 94p in every pound that Lunch Bowl receives, is spent directly on the children, we consider this to be a great use of the funds that we are able to raise.

many thanks

 

 

 

 

 

Our New Website

Nearly a year after we launched our trust, we have finally got around to creating a website that looks and feels something more in keeping with the generous donations to date and the great work that this money has enabled us to advance. Going forward, the site will use this blog page to announce updates, forthcoming events and keep people abreast of our thinking and plans to help less fortunate than ourselves. 

RosiesforLily002.jpg