South Asia Foundation (SAF) is a voluntary, secular, non-profit and non-political youth movement. Founded by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, its cardinal objective is to promote regional co-operation through education and sustainable development across all levels of society in South Asia.
SAF’s eight Chapters — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — are registered in each country as national entities and their decentralised activities are guided by eminent Chairpersons assisted by members of their respective Advisory Board.
SOS-Kinderdorf International is an International Child development organisation working in 131 countries and territories through its member associations. In South Asia it has member associations in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Nepal.
As Goodwill Ambassador UNESCO, Ambassador Madanjeet Singh visited a SOS Children’s Village was greatly impressed by its activities.
Subsequently He established contacts with the organisation and numerous discussions were held between Him and Mr. Siddhartha Kaul Deputy Secretary General responsible for Asia towards establishing co-operation on mutually acceptable terms and conditions.
Ambassador Madanjeet Singh accompanied by Chairperson of SAF trusts visited SOS Children’s Village Piliyandala and other projects in Sri Lanka during their annual meetings in Sri Lanka. Mr. Siddhartha Kaul presented various proposals to the trustees, which were approved in principal.
It was agreed that the co-operation between the two organisations must be encouraged as both organisations share number of common objectives.
The first common project was approved as SOS+SAF Environment camp to be hosted at SOS Vocational (agriculture) Training and Vacation Centre Malpotha – Sri Lanka.
Consequently, the First SOS + SAF Environment camp was held in Sri Lanka (12th - 21st August 2003). A total of 40 Youth from the seven SAARC countries participated. The objective of the camp was to:
- Expose Youth to rural life style and to make them aware of environmental issues.
- To foster friendship among youngsters of SAARC nations.
The financial cost of this camp was almost entirely funded by South Asia Foundation while SOS Children’s Villages provided the rest.
World-wide experience shows that organisations such as SAF could hardly sustain themselves and function effectively unless all the participating partners have a stake and equally share the costs and responsibility for joint ventures.
Hence, at a meeting held on 9th - 11th April 2002, at Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, SAF Chairpersons unanimously decided that SAF shall not undertake any project without a matching contribution by the participating South Asian country in order to equalise with SAF's financial assistance.
SOS-Kinderdorf International also endorses this view. Mr. Siddhartha Kaul Deputy Secretary General - Asia for SOS-Kinderdorf International suggested that the ad-hoc practice of negotiating a budget with the host country be discontinued and the SOS + SAF camps in future be held according to a MoU signed between SOS & SAF, the terms of which areas follows:
1. The participating Youth (comprising equal number of girls and boys) will be jointly selected by SOS Children’s Villages and SAF (in Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan it will be the responsibility of SAF to do the selection). Number of Youth to participate will be proposed by SOS Children’s Villages and to be agreed by SAF.
2. SAF shall pay for the cheapest land-air travel of the scouts from their hometown to the venue of the SOS+SAF Camp. The Youth will travel unaccompanied.
3. All expenses that relate to hosting of the camp including boarding and lodging would be met in full by SAF.
4. Regional Co-operation being SAF’s principal objective, the SAF Chapter in the host country shall arrange and pay for a seminar on the subject as a part of the camp’s programme, in consultation with the SOS Children’s Village organisation in that country. SAF shall also pay for the travel and hotel accommodation of the teachers invited to make the Youth aware of the merits of regional co-operation in South Asia.
5. In addition, the SAF Chapter in the host country shall arrange and pay for a documentary film (DVD) about the camp, as was done in Sri Lanka.
6. In conformity with the decentralised SAF regulations, all travel arrangements and the respective SAF Chapters shall pay for cost of tickets in each country, in consultation with the local SOS Children’s Villages organisation.
7. It would be the responsibility of SOS Children’s Villages to organise and conduct the camp.
This Memorandum of Understanding is signed on (date)
Deputy Secretary General
Representing: SOS-Kinderdorf International
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
Founder, South Asia Foundation
Representing: SAF Chairpersons in South Asia