By Aloka Mitra
- It gives me enormous happiness to write a few lines about our working together with Anja Finckh now Fischer for nearly 20 years. Our partnership and close relationship we have enjoyed makes it seem very short time ago indeed. I met Anja in Kolkata as a young woman, very enthusiastic and committed to bringing about a change in the lives of children, challenged physically, mentally and economically. Anja was introduced to me by my dear friend from Germany, Anna Mierke who had been living in Kolkata and supporting our work enormously. Anja wanted me to help her run a project for 30 physically and mentally challenged children, whom she had already selected. This project has been extremely successful because all Anja’s children are now well settled and we have to support only two this year.
Anja became interested in our project with children and started supporting many of the projects we were running for children. One such project is the Street Children Education Project under which we are running education centres under 15 police stations from 1999, for over 500 children in Calcutta. Anja has provided education, nutrition, medicine and recreational support. Her unstinted support has enabled over 71 boys and girls to complete their class X and XII. Some are going to college and all have income earning initiatives and skills. They are moving on to a better life.
She has also supported similar education programs in two other centres for children living in the slum and street areas. There are 60 children in each centre who regularly attend the classes. Her support in the Sonagachi red-light area, has resulted in the safety and security for over 50 children at a time, who attend the daily evening drop in centre at the time when their mothers in prostitution are entertaining clients. Several are now going to high school and Anja is even ready to support their college education whenever required. She has also been supporting vocational training for both boys and girls. Boys have acquired professional driving license.
Nijoloy Home which was opened in 2004, Anja gave an invaluable support from the time we bought the property and were short of funds. Around 125 girls from the redlight area and rescued from being trafficked have been transferred to our Nijoloy Home, with their mothers’ help. The confident young ladies are working, have a bank accounts savings, getting married, having a family. Anja has supported our Child Care Home, which is a Home for lost, abandoned, orphaned and victimised children run by WIF, which is being supported all these years which no one else was willing to provide any sponsorship. The children could be provided with milk, fruits, adequate protein and medical care. Thanks to Anja’s providing focussed and need based funds.
We are very grateful to her late father who very kindly and generously helped Anja through the years to raise funds and we remember him with deepest gratitude and warm affections and pray that his work is taken up and continued by his friends and colleagues. At work she is entirely committed to ensuring that every penny is well utilised and makes a difference in the lives of the street children, the children in the two Homes and children in the red-light areas regardless of the many difficulties she faces in her personal life. She comes to see the project in detail, meets every child and records their progress and is ready with immediate decision that helps an individual child to progress. This is indeed very rare and flexible approach, which is not usual, with inter country partnership. We were indeed very proud, when she received an award from her Government because she richly deserves all praise and recognition for the wonderful work she has been doing, when she was a very young woman.
I have been very close to Anja personally during the past 20 years and have had the pleasure of being a part of her work as well as her personal life. She has been blessed with wonderful parents, the best life partner in dear Frank and extremely capable and supportive friends. My heartfelt good wishes along with all my colleagues and over 1000 children, whose lives she has affected and changed. Our congratulations to Pradip – Partner-One World for completing 20 years. We wish you a decade more of wonderful work and the blessings of all who know you.
Yours Aloka Mitra