I am a member of the Managing Committee of The Charity Centre here in Tamarin. My friends Corinna and Rose founded the Centre in 2013. We’re strictly non-profit. Rose manages and runs our little enterprise on a daily basis, together with a dedicated team of volunteers. Originally from Italy, she’s a tireless driving force no-one can resist. I try to help in the background, as hands-on as possible, from drafting contracts to drying cloths on my verandah after they were soaked by a sudden rainstorm.
Our work is focused on helping poor people in need, as well as protecting and caring for domestic animals. To this end, we have a three-pronged approach.
First, we are collecting donations of clothes, household items, toys, and books, in turn making them available for very little money at our second-hand shop. Prices start at 5 Rupees, a bit more than 0.1 Euros.
Second, with the funds collected thusly, we then support all kinds of welfare projects on the island. For example, we finance animal caring campaigns of PAWS or other organisations. Or help a family who has lost everything in a flood or cyclone. Or help out an animal shelter with food and blankets. Or support a bicycling club for kids. Or sponsor a program for the education and integration of children with difficulties in school. Things of that nature.
Third, items that have not been sold for a month or so are then given for free directly to poor people who live in the villages around Tamarin, who don’t have the opportunity, and often cannot afford, to come to visit our shop.
Once or twice a month we run a so called market. On Saturdays, before the hour of opening, people are already waiting, then we ring a bell, and everyone streams onto our compound. Sales at Walmart pale against it. It’s beautiful to watch and behold people rummaging through the offering, comparing, discussing, having fun.
It’s nice to at least try to give back to the society that has welcomed me on their island. It also gives me the opportunity to shoot the kind of pictures I love: real-life, no posing – the antithesis to Instagram. And I can sometimes clumsily use my utterly rusty, but beloved Italian.