“I always wanted to contribute something back to India”

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gday india

COMMUNITY | PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH

Dr Natteri V Chandran is a doctor who migrated to Australia in 1971. After studying at Jipmer, Pondicherry, he came to train and work in Australia in the health sector. Despite having settled here, he always harboured a strong desire to give back something to India for having nurtured and educated him. So in 1992, he founded the East West Overseas Aid Foundation, an Australian volunteer-driven organisation that aims to help the poor and disadvantaged people in India. He tells G’day India about the Foundation which has become a major part of his life.

Q: How did the East West Overseas Aid Foundation come about?
I always had a social conscience and had an interest in social welfare, public health etc. I got the inspiration from my father, Dr Natteri Veeraraghavan, who got his Padmashri in 1967. He was director of the Pasteur Institute in Kunoor, where I was born. When he retired in 1973, he was doing some research but my mother persuaded him to do some work in leprosy. He became the first man to grow the leprosy basillus in the laboratory but he did that when he was 80-years-old. I used to help him with equipment, materials, etc…
Also at that time I was interested in schizophrenia in India. There was a prominent organisation called SCARF (Schizophrenia Care and Research Foundation) in Chennai and I used to raise some funds and send them. I started in small ways through that and then I thought if more people work together we could do much more. So in 1992 I founded the organisation in Melbourne. We had a few volunteer as soon as the idea was floated. So we started fund raising.

Q. What was the target community or project area?
What we wanted was to do something for the remote rural community. So I looked for some land and found this beautiful place, 100 km south of Chennai. I named it Uluru, it is the Tamil word for land deep inside. There is a connection with the Australian name.

Q: How has Uluru shaped up?
Currently the Foundation is focussing on contributing to the development needs of the Edaikazhinadu Panchayat community in Tamil Nadu, India – through a partner charitable organisation, The East West Foundation of India. I had set up the East West Foundation of India with all the regulatory requirements and also got our clearances with overseas aid tax deductions.

Q: How can people get involved?
TEWOAF operates solely through donations. We have offices in Australia, the USA, the UK and India. We want more volunteers to come forward. Lot of people go and visit Uluru and once they visit they become lifelong supporters. They can contact us through the website or call us. Donation can be done online.