SAFP began with the inspiration of Pope Paul VI at the International Eucharistic Congress in Bombay (now Mumbai), India in December 1964. Monsignor Augustine John Kandathil (Father Gus), a priest from the Archdiocese of Ernakulam, South India, heard the appeal by Pope Paul VI to the world to join him in a non-violent battle against poverty and hunger in countries like India. SAFP was born in 1965, through the partnering of supporters in North America with five families in the southwestern state of Kerala, India.
Since then, more than 50,000 families have completed the Family Development Program and more than 11,800 families are currently partnered with supporters in North America. The program continues to be our core program and allows local grassroots self-help groups to select the most needy families in their communities based on criteria set out by SAFP (must have children under 13 and demonstrate striking poverty) to receive support for 6 years.
When families in India join the program, they are guided in setting up a bank account and $20 is deposited each month through the support of the partner in Canada. The family is assisted in critically analyzing their problems and making yearly plans and budgets to use the funds to overcome their problems. They are encouraged to start an income generation project (a small business) to help improve the family’s income in a sustainable way. This program also allows families to address basic-needs issues such as housing, health problems, education, indebtedness, sanitation, food security, etc. Families are encouraged to take an active role in the development of their families and communities though receiving training to increase knowledge and confidence. They are also supported in joining the local self-help group, participating in their local government, and accessing government grants and schemes.
Reena’s story of change and transformation is one of many examples of how families’ lives are impacted through this program. Reena and her family are from Alappuzha, Kerala and have successfully completed the Family Development Program through a Save A Family Plan partnership.
Before taking part in this program, the family struggled to meet basic needs and keep their small grocery store open. Their health was poor, they were malnourished, the children could not go to school, and their home was an unstable, one room hut.
Six years later, things have drastically changed for Reena and her family. After taking out micro-loans from a local credit union and accessing government social programs, they were able to expand their store and purchase a scooter to help with delivery of goods which has greatly increased their business’s success. By taking part in skills training that was offered by local staff members, they were able to access health insurance and start an organic kitchen garden. Finally, they saved enough money to begin the construction of a new house. The local government was able to give them a subsidy allowing them to complete the project. Things that were only dreams 6 years earlier for this family are now a reality. Reena expresses: “We cannot think of what our life would have been like without SAFP.”
For more information about Save A Family Plan’s Family Development Program, please visit our website.