At Ahimsa Fund, we aim to bring different cultures together around the shared values of humanism, generosity, altruism, leadership and a desire to help change the world. To this end, we develop projects in the field of social entrepreneurship and healthcare. In doing so, it is essential to take into consideration the cultural sensitivities of all involved: the projects implemented must be adapted to local conditions and then relayed in order to grow. This creates a need for proximity and harmonization in parallel. The solution lies with our ambassadors! We must identify leaders who will agree to become Ahimsa Fund ambassadors in their countries, while, in turn, Ahimsa Fund will provide them with a link to the rest of the world.
From meeting ambassadors to creating real projects
Many meetings with ambassadors have come about in the context of international events. But today, more and more, opportunities for collaboration are presenting themselves through travel.
Ahimsa Fund network of envoys
The Ahimsa Fund envoys are young travelers, very often students, who set off abroad in search of new cultures, new ways of working, and new projects. Whether they gravitate naturally to humanitarian work or have links to members of Ahimsa Fund, they identify potential ambassadors who would be capable of implementing and relaying major projects. These young travelers therefore serve as a driving force linking Ahimsa Fund and its ambassadors, through their chance encounters. Chance encounters? Gandhi might have thought otherwise, as he said:
"There is no such thing as chance. Chance is God calling and not leaving his name."
Building on initial contacts
Once an initial link has been created with an ambassador, Ahimsa Fund will work to strengthen that link so as to create a real two-way relationship, which often becomes a genuine friendship. It is by creating these links that Ahimsa Fund brings into its network new individuals, who, in turn, incorporate Ahimsa Fund in their own networks. The aim of building these increasing numbers of bridges is to support ambassadors in the development of projects in their countries, and to enable Ahimsa Fund to expand throughout the world.
Spotlight on four Ahimsa Fund ambassadors
Zelma Lazarus, CEO of the Impact India Foundation – hospital train
Who said that there was nothing worth watching on TV? If you choose your programs carefully, you might sometimes be pleasantly surprised! This is exactly what happened 20 years ago to Jean-François de Lavison, when he came across a program called “Les plus beaux trains du monde” (the greatest trains in the world), featuring a report on Zelma Lazarus, CEO of the Impact India, and its “Train of Hope”. When he turned off his TV, he immediately picked up the phone to get in touch with Ms Lazarus to propose setting up a project with the Mérieux Group. Since then, Ahimsa Fund has become an ambassador for the Impact India Foundation, developing similar projects in Bangladesh, South Africa and West Africa. At the same time, the Impact India Foundation, through its training courses, has incorporated Ahimsa Fund in its network in India. The result? Already, two additional cars have been fitted out, and Ahimsa Fund has made available both equipment and industrial network contacts.
Runa Khan, Executive Director of Friendship Bangladesh – hospital ship
When the founder of Friendship Bangladesh crossed paths with Jean-François de Lavison at a conference in Dubai three years ago, the latter was not going to let the opportunity pass him by! Since then, a successful collaboration has been born. Ahimsa Fund supports the Friendship cancer screening project and offers up its network of public healthcare professionals and its contacts at the WHO, as well as providing equipment and consumables (reagents, medications, chemicals and vaccines).
Tony Meloto – Founder and President of Gawad Kalinga
Sometimes you have to give fate a helping hand! When news of Tony Meloto's personality, energy and innovative projects reached the ears of Ahimsa Fund, Jean-François de Lavison immediately invited this spirited Philippine to the first Ahimsa Forum*.
The meeting was a great success and gave rise to a project to train young people from Manila's shanty towns in the restaurant trade, in partnership with the Paul Bocuse Foundation. Ahimsa Fund endeavors to help Tony Meloto replicate this project, which has worked so well in the Philippines, in other countries.
*As an aside, please note that Tony Meloto will host the next Ahimsa Fund Forum, in 2019, at the GK Enchanted Farm in the Philippines.
Katherine Marshall, Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue
During a conference chaired by Kofi Annan, 15 years ago, Jean-François de Lavison and Katherine Marshall had an initial conversation that triggered a long-standing and rich collaboration. This exchange, which focused on the connection between religion and health, gave rise to a new concept founded on this hitherto largely untapped complementarity. Katherine Marshall, a great international development theorist, spoke about this very subject, 15 years later, at the most recent Ahimsa Forum. This is a wonderful example of how Ahimsa Fund ambassadors can hail from all walks of life, contributing on-the-ground know-how or expertise born of valuable analysis.
"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult."
At times, the humanitarian world can have a tendency to close in on itself, with stakeholders falling into an individualist and isolated way of thinking. In collaboration with its ambassadors, Ahimsa Fund seeks to combat this situation and endeavors to build bridges between organizations. These bridges that Ahimsa Fund serves to build between structures, and between its various ambassadors, are intended to offer shared solutions so as to implement tangible, sustainable and reproducible projects. Regardless of our differences, ethics are universal and, therefore, are always a basis on which to rally together. Furthermore, we need ambassadors to embody these ethics: the concept of leadership is therefore fundamental. Only with leadership is it possible to mobilize, boost and support the capabilities of every individual in order to create solutions at a global level, to benefit everyone.