A week or two after when the situation of Corona started to worsen in France, I made a form with the help of Suman, the developer of IIF-Zenith family, to see how many Indian students or recent graduates may need financial help. 259 students signed up there, even without knowing if any financial help will at all be possible. This underlined the desperate situations we were in as a society, especially those who are yet to start earning their breads.
In the following weeks, several students contacted me narrating their cases, from all corners of France. All had their own versions of stories, but the bottomline was, there were no more jobs, and how to pay for the rent and food. Several told me that they are living without food, or with fear of finishing their food too fast and then with no money to buy further food. People called me telling that they are so desperate that they even thought to finish their life. All these pushed me to do something to help them.
Meanwhile, Avinash helped me to get in touch with a journalist from New Indian Express, Kannalmozhi, who worked to prepare a nice article on efforts made through IIF. At the same time, I was preparing myself to start a fund raising campaign, but the lack of an account in the name of IIF became an obstacle, especially at a moment when some banks were exceptionally slow.
After two weeks of attempts, between bankers who were in vacations or were super busy, one of the two banks I was dealing with, finally replied positively yesterday, and by this morning, the bank account of IIF was ready.
So, here we stand today friends. I made an appeal for donation a while ago in Facebook. This is important as today we are in a situation where 100s of our students are starving and they need our help. Their jobs are gone, their source of revenus are gone, they cannot ask for money from home, and they have none to go to for support. Not everyone comes from rich and comfortable families, and even of we can help 500 of the most deserving ones amongst the 20/30 thousands students who are in France now, we will do a good job.
The most vulnerable parts of our community needs help, and it is the time for those who can afford, to stand up, and open up their heart. Here goes the RIB.
Here is the idea. Today we have 259 people in the list. A team of independent volunteers from various parts of France will analyse these profiles, from bank details sent by those seeking help. A list will be made from there to find out those who really need help. There is no perfect world, and I am sure that we will make mistakes while making that final list, however, the idea is to do our best to minimise those mistakes and get the best possible list of people in need.
Once that list is made, we will send an amount of 50 euros to each of them, as long as our donations support that. No photo of those who are seeking help will be asked, as IIF believes in respecting the dignity of those who are in a bad situation today. However, if donators wants to verify if the money is really going to people, he/she may post in the group and some of those receiving help, will be requested to reply him/her back through a private message.
The donators name will be published in the group thanking them.
In addition, there will be a badge as a memory of their good work. Below is a rough design of that proposed badge.
The design may be improved with inputs before printing them. The stars are based on the amount of donation. A donation in the multiples of 50 euros is asked (as that is the amount that each individual will receive). A donator can also give a smaller donation. However, stars will be added in the badge from 50 euros.
A silver star will be added for every 50 euros, and a golden star will be added for every 500 euros. Example :
A very little amount of money may be spent for operational costs, between 300 and 1000 euros, based on needs. This cost will cover, among other things, the badges.
In case more money is collected than what is needed, after helping all the students who connect to us and who needed help, the extra will be kept in the bank account of IIF, for future community support projects.
An example of the amount of money we need to support the students and fresh graduates: To help 500 of them by paying them 50 euros a month, and for 3 months, we need 75,000 euros. If we want to pay them 100 euros for 3 months, the amount get doubled.
Thus, besides seeking money from individuals, community members are also requested to check and pursue to see if anything similar to CSR are available in France, and how to avail that for the fund of IIF.
Quetion: Why is the badge, is this necessary ?
I understand that some of you will think that this badge is not necessary. But at the same time, where is the harm if this badge motivates someone to help more people. Besides, everyone wears with pride the badge of organisations like Lion's club during social gatherings. Why not badges of donators who are supporting the Corona victims. Let's be proud of our philanthropy. Say it with pride that you are an IIF contributor.
Question: Is this help available only for Indian students ?
Even though we are promoting this in our own channels, we cannot propose a help to members of our own community only, specially at this moment. The help will be available for anyone who will register and seek help, as long as your profile corresponds to whom we are helping, and we have money in the fund.
Question: Apart from helping with food expenditures, what other help is needed ?
Hundreds of Indian students are in a situation where they are unable to pay their rent because of sitautions rised for Corona, and are being harassed by their landlords. Many of them are even staying without a contract, making their situation more vulnerable. We have to figure out a way to help them. I want to consult a French jurist here for this, to check our options. If you know someone, please help me to connect.
Question: Can we donate from India?
Yes you can, if you can transfer the money. Try transferwise if you are sending 20,000 rupees or higher. We do not have any paypal account for IIF yet.
Question: I want to donate anonymously. Is this possible?
Yes definitely. If you want to keep your identity hidden, that will be respected.
However, in case the reason of hiding your identity is not important, it is advised otherwise, as someone among your friends may get motivated to donate seeing your donation, and its chain reaction thereafter. If you hide your identity that chain is broken and the possibility of you motivating one of your friends is stopped.
Hence it is actually a better idea not only to let me add your photo, but to share this in your own wall there after.
Update : I made a second video on the 27th of April.
A third video was made on the 28th with updates
A fourth video was made on the 30th with further updates
Sourav Choudhury is a social entrepreneur living in France since 2003 and working for the cause of Indian community of France, since 2007. He is founder of multiple projects: the largest social network of the Indian community of France, a French language school for english speaking expatriates, this website, and few other projects.