President’s Annual Report – 2011

It has been another productive year for the Australian Friends of Vellore. We have been pleased to have Western Australia represented through Renu John as a contributor to this meeting and our interim national teleconferences. Despite an attempt to identify a group who may represent the Northern Territory the population changes regularly and at present we were unable to find a suitable contact who may be interested in being the nucleus of a Northern Territory Friends of Vellore.

The communication between CMC and us has been regular and helpful. We are now receiving regular lists of visitors rom Australia to CMC to enable us to follow up and engage with the medical students who do elective terms in Vellore. It was wonderful to be able to have our treasurer Richard Caitens represent us at the January Board meeting in Vellore and gain first-hand knowledge of both the main campus and the new Chittoor development.

A further 1000 copies of the CMC DVD were made and we have already distributed 500 of these. I have enquired about Person to Person brochures from Vellore and am awaiting a reply.

I have obtained a quote for developing the capability of the Australian FOV website so that potential donors can donate on line. I have also asked for a quote on upgrading and refreshing the website along with this to attract more business and make it easier to find on search engines.

Our practice of having national teleconferences between AGM?s to conduct business has enabled us to be responsive to the issues that arise. One point of discussion was around the tax deductible donations through the national body. Our tax deductibility status depends on the donated monies that attract this go through the national account. This does not preclude individuals donating to Vellore without claiming a deduction or donating through other charities which attract tax deductible status. Another issue was the use of the money sent form Australia. The default option is that it goes to the Endowment fund or it can be designated to go to special funds which have been established at CMC as well as allocations for Fellowships.

Occasionally the Australian FOV will respond to a special request from the Director for a particular project to be funded and this will be considered by the Board (as was the case with producing the DVD). In previous years the Australian Board has referred direct requests for funds from individuals or programs in Vellore back through the Directorate so that the Director can inform us of the priorities for utilizing donated funds. A final issue of fundraising was brought to our attention by a long term donor. It is clear that we are now supporting a highly sophisticated hospital with many tertiary specialties and this is quite different from the situation when the Australian FOV was first formed. Marketing the current needs and best use of donated funds for Vellore will require a change of traditional message.

We are pleased to have Professors Lionel Gnanaraj and Jessie with us as guests representing Vellore. It adds greatly to our engagement with members across the country to have such experienced faculty available to update us on the progress at CMC and rekindle our enthusiasm.

I met with Raju Titus Chacko at an oncology meeting in Chicago in June, and finally shared some perceptions on structural change to maximize patient communication and senior staff usage in the oncology clinic at Vellore. He shared the news of his appointment as an Associate Director of the new Chittoor campus.

I attended part of the Vellore alumni meeting in Adelaide in 2010 and have been invited to attend the upcoming meeting in Sydney. It is inspiring to see their continued support of CMC while they make considerable contributions to medical progress in Australia. Close relationships between the FOV and alumni are essential for providing the most effective support for CMC Vellore.

I note with sadness the death of one of the Founders of the Australian FOV Reg Walker and am grateful for his ongoing legacy. I had the pleasure of meeting him several times over my last few years in Sydney at various FOV functions which he was still keenly supporting.

Finally I wish to pay tribute to the Executive officers of the Board. Stephen Aseervatham provides invaluable support because of his long experience and knowledge of how CMC and FOV operate and he is always most generous with his support and advice. He also does an invaluable job keeping the website current and fresh. I thank John Rothwell for his secretarial work and the insights he shares with me, Richard Caitens for his long serving role as treasurer and Bella George in her role as Vice President.

I hope to visit CMC Vellore in January and look forward to working with the Australian FOV to discern and pursue the best methods of best supporting CMC and the it service to those in medical need in India.

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