Like many people reading this, I first connected with Salaam Balaak Trust through the City Walk programme. As I continue to support the charity through my work as a Trustee of Friends of SBT in the UK, staying connected to beneficiaries feels important, in terms of keeping up to date, keeping momentum and reminding ourselves why awareness and fundraising is vital.
On Saturday 27th June we organised our first Friends of SBT 'virtual meet up' with our friends in Delhi, via Zoom. For this pilot, we were delighted be joined by Roma, Raghav, Kailash and Vicky Roy - each has benefited from SBT’s life-changing support and were excited to meet some FoSBT volunteers and supporters.
Roma, Vicky, Raghav and Kailash shared their stories of how they came to be living on the streets with the participants on the call. The hardship they endured, the resilience and determination they demonstrated, the obstacles they overcame and the tremendous work SBT is doing were astonishing to hear. It was really emotional and moved some of the attendees to tears.
After hearing their stories, we moved on to the impact of COVID-19 on street children, which was equally disturbing to hear. SBT does incredible work, but as you know relies heavily on the generosity of participants on the City Walks and broader support from donors. What struck us really starkly was the fact that, between April and June 2019 SBT had c1300 guests participating in the City Walks. Between April and July 2020 there were none. With City Walks on hold due to the pandemic and no sign of any tourists, the funding gap continues to widen.
(Image: the City Walk programme was a key funding generator for the charity pre-COVID 19)
The feedback from all participants on the 'virtual meet up' was really positive. For many supporters this was the first interaction they’ve had with SBT contacts since they participated in volunteering or the City Walk and the Q&A session at the end allowed the discussion to continue. Equally for the SBT team in Delhi, the interaction with some of the supporters who have provided them with financial support was fantastic.
The June session was intended as a pilot to test the technology and gauge supporters’ reactions. We were delighted with the feedback and agreed that we will arrange more updates of this type after the summer and hope you'll be able to join us - look out for the email in due course.
If you would like any further information please contact me, Steve Abramson, Friends of SBT Trustee, on 07786 691706.