On the Ground is an FXB series that profiles people’s stories from the field. Caroline Amiguet is an actress and FXB International Ambassador. Earlier this year, she visited FXB programs in India. She reports back to us with her insights from the field.
Earlier this year, my husband Matt and I went to India. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I was greeted by a wash of bright colors, flavorful food and a land filled with interesting juxtapositions. One of the highlights of our trip was seeing the different types of FXB programs. I was fascinated to see, firsthand, FXB’s methodologies at work.
India has developed tremendously over the past 30 years, but there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to poverty eradication. I’m not sure I can fully describe it, but it’s hard to witness such strong contrasts between the developing parts and the impoverished parts of India. It’s still not uncommon to see a four-year-old on the street or a newborn sitting with her mother under a bridge. That’s why the work FXB is doing is so important: the organization isn’t giving people cash handouts, it’s empowering individuals and setting them up for sustainable independence in a country that is evolving.
The first place we visited was the Childline 1098 center. Childline is India’s first free telephone hotline for children in need of protection. The call center operates in 133 cities in 26 states across India. Children dial the numbers 10-9-8 to be connected to a counselor in one of the centers. FXB Suraksha works with Childline to help provide services to abused children in the Delhi region. It was really inspiring to see a team of people who were engaged with their work and make a meaningful difference in the lives of children every day.
Afterward, we traveled to Noida, a city in the Northwest region of India, to visit an FXB after-school program run by FXB Suraksha. The program provides support to children who are falling behind in school and creates opportunities for them to thrive.
The students in the program were extremely friendly and driven. They asked Matt and me questions about our jobs and our lives back home. We also played math and vocabulary games and were even able to fit in a little dancing! The students gracefully taught me some Bollywood dance moves after I told them I would love to be in a Bollywood movie someday (it’s ok to dream right?). Matt challenged me to teach them a dance as well, so I attempted to teach them some freestyle to a Bruno Mars song that I played on my phone. After all the dancing, one girl complimented me on my outfit and told me all about saris and other Indian fashions. Getting to know these kids, it reminded me that the children at this after-school program have the same curiosity and energy as children in America.
FXB believes that investing in children is investing in the peace of the world. And after seeing the potential of all these bright students, I couldn’t agree more, which is why I am honored to be an FXB International Ambassador. The FXBVillage methodology is the foundation of all of FXB’s programs, including their after-school and helpline centers. This pioneering approach addresses the five drivers of poverty: housing, business, health, education and nutrition and aims to make families financially independent at the end of a three-year program. And the model works, with 86% of FXB families remaining self-sufficient four years after the program ends. From my observations, one of the reasons behind FXB’s success across villages and programs is its commitment to working on the community level and getting to know the participants.
India is a land bursting at the seams, with the streets teeming with people, animals and life. I feel so lucky to have experienced such a stimulating and complex place and am so excited and inspired to have witnessed, up close and personal, FXB’s work in action.