Kolkata, India - Melbourne, Australia 2004-present
Friends of Kolkata is a volunteer run Melbourne based organisation that arranges fundraising, educational and volunteer exchange activities on behalf of the Institute of Social Work (ISW), a non-government organisation in Kolkata, India.
Five friends - Chris Turton, Yoriko Otomo, Christian Clark, Lara Thurlow, and myself, volunteered for approximately a month at two Kolkata-based NGOs - the Centre for Communication and Development and The Institute of Social Work in 2004. We managed to have a positive impact on the children in our time there despite our inexperience, and were encouraged by the Indian organisations to take our enthusiasm further on our return to Australia.
So after returning to Melbourne we set up Friends of Kolkata, incorporating and organisating the first event - a fundraising exhibition in August 2005 at Irene Community Arts Warehouse Brunswick. It featured both my own photographs, and some of the images of the Indian children who I had been teaching photography. In 2007 I led a volunteer trip back to Kolkata which resulted in another, larger photographic exhibition at Melbourne University that shared the stories and experiences of the children.
Friends of Kolkata continues to work with ISW today. The latter organisation seeks to protect children’s and women’s rights by providing communities with access to education, vocational training, microcredit and health services, and by assisting women and children affected by family violence.
Friends of Kolkata
The Institute of Social Work
The Centre for Communication and Development