Every Christmas, Fortum’s co-workers vote for a charity organisation that they feel should be rewarded for extra ordinary efforts to help those in need. In 2010 Fortum's employees voted for the organisation Hand in Hand. The donation went to the small agricultural village of Mananthal in Tamil Nadu, and now the village uplift programme has been going on for nearly two years and the project is coming to an end.
Mananthal used to struggle with large sanitation and environmental issues, but through Hand in Hand's village uplift program, that was made possible through Fortum’s Christmas gift, the villagers are working together to better their situation. The programme includes many different aspects, some of which are; nutrition counselling for parents, self-help groups for women, veterinary services, environmental work and a community centre. During the two years that the programme has been going on the village has undergone a wonderful transformation.
A big part of the success that Hand in Hand has had with their work with poor villages in India lies in the fact that they engage and work together with the villagers to build a better future. Self-help groups for women is one of the foundation pillars of the organisation. This means that they help women help themselves realise their dreams and ideas.
The key is to find out what the women are good at and love doing and to help them develop these skills to become a source of income for the family. If the women are successful, then this also creates opportunities for the entire family since the family need not be dependent on wages brought in by the children, and rely on them to work for an income. The children can then get a chance to an education in school. Hand in Hand also help and ensuring that the children go to school by mapping out children and actively bringing them into the education system.
"When I visited Mananthal, what I saw was really positive. It was wonderful to see the concrete steps that had been taken over the close to two years that the project has been on-going. When I talked to the villagers the enthusiasm over the possibilities that has opened up was overwhelming and it really shows how important the work that Hand in Hand does is, and how important it is for companies to get engaged and contribute to the well-being of the communities they operate in, says Maria Paatero-Kaarnakari, Executive Vice President Fortum Asia
Below is a short film about Fortum's Christmas donation to Hand in Hand