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about

At the moment we are (while finishing a schooling and after school care project in Bangalore, India that we have been managing since 2004) orientating to take up new causes. The project has been run by volunteers and we can move forward only as fast as our free time permits us.  Toe to Heart initiatives are initiatives characterized by small material (the Toe) and immaterial (the Heart) aid.

The genesis of Toe to Heart is truly a love story. Thomas van Berckel had to travel to India in 2003 to make an inventory of a number of projects of the International Ark Communities for people with intellectual disabilities as an international fundraiser.

When Thomas breaks his toenail on MG Road in Bangalore, it is cared for by the nurse Lalitha. She not only cares for his toe but also touches his heart. The two decide to get married and Thomas goes to live in India. Daughter Eva is born.

Through his sister-in-law, Thomas comes into contact with the St Pauls school. This school often has students from the lower middle class, but there are also children of poorer parents who want a better future for their talented children. Education at the free government schools in India is woefully poor.

However, the parents of a number of children were unable to meet their children's school costs for various reasons. In that case, children may be present at school, but will not be given a uniform and will not be allowed to take exams. This means that these children cannot move on to a higher grade, cannot get a diploma and that their future is very uncertain.

The success of this formula has been clearly demonstrated for almost twenty years. While the ambition at the beginning of the project was a completed high school career for as many children as possible, the ambitions have been raised and some of the oldest, very talented children have also followed a two-year college or are now working on it. This good example stimulates the dreams and wishes of the younger children.

Thomas and Lalitha put Toe to Heart's motto into practice: "Protecting our children and giving them the opportunity to grow. Positive attention (heart) and a little matter (toe) is sufficient. They prefer to do the rest themselves".

If you want see more background about Thomas van Berckel, co founder and current international coordinator then check at www.gmab.co.in

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