AGM 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 2nd Wave – 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

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