In 2020, AIF quickly pivoted to address the critical situation in India and the United States. In India, AIF leveraged its programs’ infrastructure on health, education, and livelihoods via its wide network to address the needs of the nation with ventilators, PPE, and other interventions in order to save the lives of vulnerable Indians from COVID-19. Read the report here.

In 2021, India recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 COVID-19 infections on April 22nd, as this second wave sent many more into a fragile health care system, critically short of hospital beds and oxygen. Working with our partners, hospitals, and governments, AIF has launched a three-pronged Phase 2 Emergency Response Strategy to address this crisis. Here is an overview.

The American India Foundation is committed to improving the lives of India’s underprivileged, with a special focus on women, children, and youth. AIF does this through high impact interventions in education, health, and livelihoods, because poverty is multidimensional. AIF’s unique value proposition is its broad engagement between communities, civil society, and expertise, thereby building a lasting bridge between the United States and India. With offices in New York and California, twelve chapters across the U.S., and India operations headquartered in Delhi NCR, AIF has impacted 6.7 million lives across 26 states of India.

Introducing Aarti Nuzella

As I was born and brought up in India, I am more or less aware about its rich cultural heritage and developmental issues. However, till now I have never given any serious thought addressing the developmental concerns facing India.

Now that I am a part of AIF Clinton fellowship, I sincerely believe that this would provide me a suitable platform to work for the welfare for society at large and contribute a little to some of the developmental problems that have been looming around the Indian society. Moreover, I feel privileged to have an opportunity to work with people with varied educational and cultural background. My location of work during my internship at AIF is Kolkatta which has its own very specific circumstances in which exclusive development has been taking place.

My first stint in the city of Kolkata, capital of West Bengal was for a period of approximately 14 months. For me the Kolkata was both a city of joy and sorrow. On one hand I would see the high end localities, while on other abject poverty of people who were struggling to exist on daily basis. This would often invoke a chain of thought on developmental issues, which at times I would discuss with my peers. This triggered a sense of enquiry in me and I decided to explore these development dynamics further. Therefore, I decided to quit my job as a technical engineer and joined TISS, Mumbai to understand the social engineering process.

TISS gave me some conceptual anchoring along with some practical exposures to understand the developmental paradigms. However, after completing my masters in Globalisation and Labour studies from TISS, I realized that there was no organization which would offer me the type of work I would have been liked to pursue in the development sector, primarily because of my lack of experience in development sector.

Here the AIF Clinton fellowship came to my rescue. They realized the penchant in me to pursue this field whole heartedly and offered me an opportunity to be a part of team to work in Kolkata. I take this golden opportunity in which I expect to learn the dynamics of working in development sector and get first hand exposure and expertise in carrying out the welfare activities for masses.

At the same time I have anxieties over the duration of time it would take to make tangible changes in the life of poor stakeholders. For me, it’s frustrating to see the social change as slow process, but I also understand that no development activity can be achieved overnight. I sincerely believe that working with AIF would make me a more mature person, and I expect to go on contributing, whatever little in the future.

I also hope that in upcoming 10 months I would be able to empower as many people as possible thereby finding tangible solutions to the problems of livelihood with sustainability. The stipulated time at AIF would help me to understand administrative and funding pattern of NGOs in India. The upcoming 10 months would be both enriching as well as challenging at AIF. My only fear is that of being frustrated knowing very well that changes don’t happen overnight especially not in India where things move at snail’s pace.

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