Board’s Activities

 

The AGM of the Australian Vellore Board – October 2021

The Annual General Meeting of the Australian Vellore Board took place on Saturday 23rd October 2021, at 2 pm AEDT, by Zoom. Dr J. V. Peter was the guest speaker.

The President Stephen welcomed everyone to the zoom meeting and invited the attendees to introduce themselves. There were total of 19 members present. There were no apologies.

Devotions were led by JVP, based on Nehemiah 4:2–6. These had been pre-recorded, though he himself was able to attend the meeting via Zoom from Kotagiri. The process of rebuilding as experienced by Nehemiah and the people of Israel involved five stages: confession, favour, threats/ridiculed/falsehood, faith, gratitude. There was much we can learn from this for the process of rebuilding after COVID. He ended the devotions with prayer.

The main item of the meeting was the presentation by the Director of CMC, on the current situation at the CMC; this was also pre-recorded and accompanied by a splendid set of PowerPoint slides. He first gave an account of how the CMC fared during the second wave of the COVID pandemic, with emphasis on medical, financial, and fund-raising aspects. The charity component was 20% of the total patients treated. Fund-raising reached AUS$10M, with massive contributions from alumni, other Indian donors and FOVs, and there were generous in-kind gifts from various businesses and corporations. Looking to the future, it was pointed out that CMC was susceptible to various potential problems, including psycho-social issues, but JVP was confident that, if a third wave came, it would be less disruptive. In fact, it is anticipated the post-pandemic period could bring with it a number of potentially beneficial changes. He ended his talk by expressing his thanks to his staff and to all those who had offered prayerful support during this most challenging year.

Summary of the matters presented and discussed:

Our donations increased this year by 60% compared to the previous year. There was a substantial increase (400%) in the Direct Credit and Online donations; quite a considerable proportion was from first time donors.

We transferred to Vellore A$400,000.00 during the year, same as the previous year.

Most of the donations received and allocated during the past 18 months were for COVID related causes.

Spread over three financial years, a total of A$ 761,468.00 was allocated for COVID projects.

COVID Preparedness / 1st Wave                      A$ 391,408.00

COVID Wave 2                                                 A$ 237,060.00

Vaccinate Vellore Campaign                            A$ 133,000.00

A few Australian alumni were keen to support other mission hospitals in India with the COVID crisis. Unfortunately, the Australian Vellore Board, according to its constitution, cannot transfer any donations to any other institutions other than CMC. The Alumni Association established a MoU with a charity called HealthServe Australia. The alumni were able to contribute tax deductible donations to HealthServe who transferred it to Christian Medical Association India (CMAI), from where the money was distributed to quite a few mission hospitals in India. They raised a total of A$ 42,350.00. This project was initiated and facilitated by Renjy Nelson (SA) and Mahiban Thomas, the president of Australian Alumni Association.

After the last AGM, we appointed a fixed Board membership for the year and the Board met on a regular basis via Zoom. The same 10 members will continue to be members for the coming year with an addition of an alumni representative.

One issue raised was regarding the need for the state branches to get their accounts reviewed. It was pointed out there was no legal requirement for them to do so, as they are sub-branches of the Board and also have a turnover of less than A$ 250,000.00 per year.

It was proposed that we should encourage our regular supporters to consider using direct bank debit facility to contribute on a regular basis.
It was suggested that the alumni association should take upon itself to initiate projects to help CMC and encourage the alumni to contribute towards them. The idea is to get those alumni who are not involved with state FOVs to support CMC. In this aspect the association will function like a state branch and channel the tax-deductible donations via the Board’s support fund to Vellore. This matter is to be discussed by the executive of the alumni association.

The idea of the prospect of the Board to be able to support other mission hospitals like UK FOV does, was put forward. This involves changing the current constitution of the Board. Probably, something to consider in the distant future.

The ongoing issue regarding the lack of involvement by the alumni in the activities of the state branches of the FOVs was raised again. There was a robust discussion on the topic among the alumni representatives present. The Board agreed that that the best way to go forward is to first formalise the state groups of the alumni and then try and get them involved with their respective state FOV. The newly elected secretary of the alumni association Geeta Sales will look into it.

To encourage the alumni participation in affairs of the FOV, Mahiban put forward the idea of trying the have the alumni gathering and the Board meeting to be held at the same weekend and venue.

The current Board of Directors were renominated for their positions.

Stephen Aseervatham       –         President

Mahiban Thomas              –         Vice President

Secretary                          –         David Runia

Treasurer                          –         Richard Caitens

Publicity Officer                 –         Sharon Thomas

It was decided that the next AGM would be held in NSW. It is to be hoped that this will occur in person. The Board requested that the NSW FOV and Alumni executives to look into the possibility of having the alumni gathering to coincide with it.
The meeting concluded with a prayer by Mahiban Thomas


President’s Report 2020 – 21. Annual General Meeting  

It was a most unusual year. This of course had to do with the COVID pandemic which affected us all, worldwide. CMC as we know, felt the burden intensely. Surprisingly, we as an organisation came out as a winner in the end.

It is true that state branches didn’t have any fund-raising events for obvious reasons, affecting their reserves for overhead expenses. But, as Richard will point out in his report, our income from the donations increased by 60%.

COVID, Fund Raising & Allocation of Donations

When the 2nd wave of COVID hit India in March – April 2021, we became aware of the needs of CMC from various sources at Vellore. It was the time of the year when our state branches usually send the annual fund-raising appeals to their support base. This year, there was an extra effort by the branches proactively emphasising CMC’s needs. This was one of the main reasons for our increased donations. We were also helped by the alarming scenes about COVID in India in our local news media which encouraged many in the public to donate. We believe quite a few of the donors are the family members, friends or colleagues of our alumni and regular supporters. We thank you all for your role in making it possible.

In the initial stages, we were promoting the COVID emergency needs and later the Vaccinate Vellore Campaign.

Summary of our contribution towards COVID since the beginning of the Pandemic

COVID Preparedness / 1st Wave

Donations                               $141,408.00

Grant – ICU Equipment      $250,000.00

                 Total                        $391,408.00

2nd Wave COVID

COVID Emergency Fund         $237,060.00

Vaccinate Vellore Campaign  $133,000.00

                     Total                          $370,060.00

Grand Total                                  $761,468.00

Except for a few designated donations by individuals, we have not allocated funds towards any other causes during the year, so also not towards any of the travelling fellowships. Now that the need to respond to COVID is not critical, we expect the other projects will be attended to.

Our ‘expanding’ Donor Base

As I mentioned, we were inundated with donations from a large number of people who are not our regular supporters, from different parts of the country. They have received a short thank you note accompanying the tax receipts. We felt that personal acknowledgement from CMC Directorate would be appreciated. JVP was more than happy to comply with our request and the Development office sent the letter from the Director to all the donors. It is prudent that we try to stay connected with this group and keep them informed about our doings.

 To Do List.

When I took over this position, I had a few items in this list.

Constitution.
I am very pleased that the new constitution was approved at the last AGM and is now in effect. Thanks to everyone who contributed towards making it possible.

Annual National Newsletter
We produced the first issue early last year. It was well received. We have not yet got around to getting one done for this year. David, Sharon, and I held a discussion about it. We decided that the best time of the year to send it would be after the AGM, when we will have more news to share and also, under normal circumstances, be able to report about the various fund-raising activities by the state branches. Thus, hopefully we will have the next one ready before Christmas.

Publicity brochure
We mentioned about the negotiations we were having with the CMC Publicity Department regarding producing a generic brochure which could be used by all the FOVs. For various reasons, the COVID pandemic being the main one, it never materialised. It was also partly due to a misunderstanding between what we envisaged as our need and what they perceived as our request. We recently raised the matter with the Director. David and I have been discussing about it and hopefully we will have some solution in the coming months.

Development Office

Hugh Skeil left the Office during the course of this year. It was a concern for us as he has been our go to person at CMC whenever we had any queries or issues. When we raised this matter with JVP, he has reassured us that the current senior members in the office – Sandeep and Shirley will fill that role. We are gradually getting to know them and so far, we have found them very helpful and quite prompt in attending to our needs. We trust that we will develop a good working relationship as time goes. We wish to take this opportunity to thankfully acknowledge the role Hugh has played over the years and for all the help he gave us during the years he was in charge of the Development office.

The Board and Teleconferences.

After the last AGM, the Directors of the Board decided that we should have regular teleconferences. Until then we had only held them sporadically. It was suggested to hold a teleconference every second month, alternating between the Directors and the whole Board. It was also pointed out that we should have assigned membership of the Board during a given year and there should be at least two representatives from each state. This core group would be expanded for the AGM with additional representatives from the states, alumni association and invited guests.

The Board for the year 2020 -21 consisted of the Directors – Stephen Aseervatham, Mahiban Thomas, David Runia, Richard Caitens & Sharon George, the immediate past president – Bella George, the chairpersons of the state branches: NSW – Robyn Bradley & SA – Renjy Nelson, state representatives: SA – Ian Olver and Victoria – Ken Gilbertson.

Unfortunately, the Tasmanian branch has not been active in the recent past and we have no representation from them.

Australian Alumni Association

The Board believes that the existence of an active and organised Alumni association is of great importance for the future of the Australian FOV. The current alumni members in the Board have discussed this matter and have decided to take steps to address any shortcomings. We hope and pray our efforts will be fruitful.

 Acknowledgement

I want to thank my co-directors for all their help and advice during the year. A special thanks to David who was my ‘go to’ person on all matters for his invaluable support. Thank you also to members of the Board for your contribution. The Board is grateful to the state committees of the FOVs for their dedication and all the arduous work they carried out during the year promoting the cause of CMC Vellore. Many Thanks.

Stephen Aseervatham October 23rd, 2021

 
 
 
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