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What we do

Friends of The Banyan Switzerland is a Zurich-based society which aims to support the work of The Banyan in Chennai. We do this through projects in Switzerland that raise awareness of the issues that face homeless women coping with mental health issues in India. We also aim to raise funds in Switzerland to support The Banyan’s projects in India.

Mission of The Banyan

The Banyan believes in the rights of the completely marginalised sections of society – to live and to be. Our vision is for a just society in which the rights and needs of the completely marginalised are addressed without exception. We will achieve this by acting as a catalyst to increase awareness and acceptance of the issues, creating the momentum for government and society to develop appropriate responses.

Who are we

Ruth Verhofnik, President

worked as a volunteer for The Banyan in Chennai for several months during 2004.

«Whilst working for The Banyan in Chennai for a few months in 2004, I realised how important the work of the organisation is. It allows people who have been pushed through unfortunate circumstances at the margins of society to once again live a decent life. 10 years later I met Anu, a former resident of Adaikalam, again. She was training other women in the field of textile printing and living in an external residential community of The Banyan. Her reintegration into society and her newly gained autonomy is for me a great success story and shows how important our work with Friends of The Banyan is here in Switzerland.»

David Nash, Vice-President

worked from 2009 to 2013 as CEO at The Banyan in Chennai.

«From the first time I walked into Adaikalam and was greeted by smiles and hugs from residents, I knew that this was a special place. The unconditional love that is given to everyone who The Banyan works with is a key element on the road to self-awareness. It enables those that have been lost to rejoin mainstream society, often returning to their family. I hope that the work we do through Freunde von The Banyan in Switzerland can provide much needed support to this amazing organisation.»

Kate Nash, Secretary & Events

«My family lived in Chennai for 4 years, during which time we experienced daily what a ‘larger than life’ city it is. Bustling crowds, explosive tastes, fragrant flowers, madcap traffic, but most of all, an enduring belief that anything is possible. For me, The Banyan embraces all that is wonderful about India. At its heart is a committed workforce of compassionate people, sharing a common vision for how life can and must be made better. They breathe new life into those who otherwise would be rejected, forgotten and ignored. For the hope its essential projects inspire, I support The Banyan.»

Roger Holderegger, Finance

«In 2014 I had the chance to visit the various projects of The Banyan in Chennai. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication of all everyone involved. An encounter with a resident named Lakshmi touched me very deeply. She had lost everything in the 2004 tsunami – 10 years later she invited me proudly into her new home. She lives with seven other women in one of The Banyan's group homes. To see that the women can live their happy, independent lifes and finally become part of the community has led me to support the work of Friends of The Banyan.»