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TWIN girls champion

EducationWorld August 2023 | EducationWorld People
-Baishali Mukherjee (Kolkata)
AK Basu

Basu: fundraising drive

Eminent social worker A.K. Basu is the secretary of Tollygunge Women In Need (TWIN, estb.1995), the Kolkata counterpart of Belgium-based non-profit TWIN-Satyagraha. The parent organisation was founded by a Belgian couple Dr. Marie Paule Baudot, and Josef (Tor) Mutton in 1995. For over two decades, TWIN Kolkata’s annual budget of Rs.30 lakh has been funded by TWIN-Satyagraha.

Through education and healthcare programs, micro financing, awareness campaigns and mainstreaming underprivileged girl children into formal education, TWIN, Kolkata empowers deprived women. Currently, 300 girl children are educated in three learning centres in Kolkata’s Tollygunge, Dhobiatala and Diamond Harbour suburbs.

Newspeg. In May, TWIN-Kolkata established a computer training unit at its Tollygunge learning centre to provide basic computer education and introduce professional courses to TWIN’s middle and high school students.

History. In the early 1990s, Dr. Marie Paule Baudot, former professor of Leuven University, and Josef (Tor) Mutton, former IT professional, visited India as volunteers of the Calcutta-based Sponsor NGO founded by Dr. John Mettler, a renowned urologist in Europe. While working with the organisation, the Belgian couple had a chance encounter with Basu and expressed their desire to start something of their own in education and healthcare of underprivileged girl children in and around Kolkata. In 1995, TWIN was born and Basu was appointed secretary of its governing body.

Since then, TWIN Kolkata, which inducts children as young as three years of age, has been dispensing basic reading and writing skills to first generation learners. Gradually, it began offering supplementary learning support in the form of evening tutorials to help children bridge learning deficits. TWIN also distributes financial aid to Plus Two students so they can avail professional test prep coaching, vocational education and career guidance.

Direct talk. “In our modest way, we have ensured all students under our care attend school and complete at least higher secondary education and acquire skills training to improve their employability. Over the past two decades since TWIN was established, 50 students have successfully completed Plus Two and secured gainful employment in schools, banks, beauty parlours, NGOs and hospitals,” says Basu, an engineering graduate of Manchester University, UK, with over two decades of corporate experience, and a former president of Rotary Club, India.

Unfortunately, Josef expired in 2020 and Marie has retired from Leuven University. “Since then, our reliable funds flow from Belgium has dried up. Therefore currently, we are strongly focussed on fundraising to continue TWIN’s mission of providing quality education and healthcare to children. Our goal is to ensure that we continue to support as many as we can,” says Basu.

Future plans. Looking to the future, this now Lone Ranger plans to strengthen TWIN’s vocational education and training programmes. “We are collaborating with government accredited agencies including National Skill Development Council and Ramakrishna Math and Mission Training Institute. Moreover, this month we will restart TWIN’s Tollygunge tailoring unit, which was shut during the pandemic years. Public support is gradually improving and we are hopeful about the future,” says this indefatigable social worker.

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