“We are an all-volunteer (no paid staff) organization with little overhead. Most of our projects have been small scale and there has been acceptance in the Seattle community that we are doing good work and money is going directly towards helping the poor.”
- Shimoga Srinath
In 1977, a group of friends banded together to help the less fortunate in India. Rather than giving direct charity, they wanted to encourage and nurture self-sufficiency. The following year this idea became concrete in the form of People for Progress in India (PPI).
Based out of Seattle, Washington, this all-volunteer run, non-profit organization strives to promote sustainable growth among underprivileged communities. PPI funds and engages with numerous grass-roots organizations in India to execute innovative projects, from sustainable farming and vocational training to mentoring high risk children and providing micro-finance loans.
Shimoga Srinath has been involved with PPI since its inception. Below he shares with us more about the project and how we can all get involved.
Looking back at the 35 years PPI has been in existence, what do you see as one of the greatest accomplishments?
I would say our accomplishments are that we have been able to provide help the poor in all parts of India on a wide variety of projects; vocational training, tree plantation, tank de-siltation, afforestation (creating new forests), rain water harvesting, rehabilitation of women exiting sex trade, tribal orphanage support, sustainable farming, biosand water filters, etc. We are an all-volunteer (no paid staff) organization with little overhead. Most of our projects have been small scale and there has been acceptance in the Seattle community that we are doing good work and money is going directly towards helping the poor.
As you said, PPI projects cover a wide range of interest areas. What is one project that you are personally excited to watch grow?
While we have been happy with the success of most of our projects, I feel that the Biosand Water Filters Project, providing pure drinking water for villagers, stands out more than others. Biosand Filters are easy-to-maintain systems ideal for village use. The filters remove 98% of bacteria, 100% of viruses, 99% protozoa, amoebas and worms, 95% minerals and 93% of arsenic. This project was started in 2009 in Tamil Nadu, then expanded to two projects in Karnataka and one in Rajasthan. This year we approved a project to provide the steel molds (required to make the concrete filters) to many other states in India. We are partnering with Friendly Water for the World and South Asia Pure Water Initiative on this new project.
What are the most significant challenges and rewards in your role as Treasurer?
Treasurer’s role is fairly straight forward. As donations come in I deposit them in the bank and send receipts to the donors, send funds to projects approved by the member group at monthly meetings, and file registration papers and taxes annually. It gives me personal satisfaction in being able to, in a small way, run the organization. I do make site visits when I go to India and that is an added bonus to see the good work being done by the local NGOs there.
What can our staff and customers do to support PPI?
They can donate to PPI, propose worthwhile projects to support in India, make site visits on ongoing PPI projects, attend monthly meetings and get involved in running the organization if they are located in the Seattle area.