Welcome Remarks by Mr K Kesavapany, SIF Governor, at SIF Connects! Chennai
Ladies and Gentlemen
Friends and Partners
Anaivarukum vanakkam! Thank you for joining us at the inaugural SIF Connects! Chennai.
Over the years, bilateral relations between India and Singapore have been strong and friendly, with both countries enjoying extensive cultural and commercial relations. The Singapore International Foundation or SIF is proud to have played a small part in the fostering of good people-to-people ties through collaborative projects in education, healthcare, social entrepreneurship and arts and culture.
This evening’s event called SIF Connects! is our way of keeping in touch with our friends in India – our programme partners and alumni built over the years. Today is special because it is the first time that SIF Connects!, which is held globally, is being held in Tamil Nadu to celebrate the goodwill and warm relations between our Indian and Singaporean friends.
At the SIF, we strongly believe that a better world begins with better understanding. Since 1995, the SIF has brought Singaporeans and Indians together, from all walks of life to share their ideas, skills and resources through our programmes. These positive collaborations have contributed towards an uplifting and betterment of lives.
Under the area of healthcare, the SIF has worked with our Indian partners to raise the quality of maternal and child health, for instance. We launched our signature ‘Enhancing Maternal and Child Health Services (MCH) project in 2015, first in Tamil Nadu and then in Karnataka. Healthcare professionals from Singapore and India collaborated to reduce infant and maternal mortality and morbidity. With our dedicated focus on creating positive impact and sustainability, an estimated 100,000 pregnant women and their newborn babies are expected to benefit from this enhanced MCH care, over a period of up to four years.
In 2014, the SIF partnered with Parikrma Humanity Foundation in Bangalore to improve the nutrition and health of schoolchildren from the Parikrma community. Our Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) shared knowledge and resources on basic nutrition, healthier eating and hygienic food preparation with Parikrma teachers as well as parents. It was especially heartening for us to see mothers in the Parikrma community, who had benefited from the project, come together to develop recipes of nutritious, tasty and affordable meals which could be shared with the wider community. I am pleased to welcome Parikrma’s Founder-CEO, Ms Shukla Bose. Later this evening, she will be sharing with us her experience working alongside SIF to inspire sustainable, community-led methods to improve health and nutrition in Bangalore.
The SIF also draws on other innovative platforms such as the arts to uplifft lives and effect positive change. Under our ‘Arts for Good’ thrust, we used art education to empower the HIV community in Tiruchengode, Tamil Nadu. Our Citizen Ambassador, Dr Esther Joosa, collaborated with Indian social welfare organisation Buds of Christ, to train social workers from four NGOs in Tamil Nadu to incorporate the arts into their care-giving practices for HIV-affected communities. Both Esther and Mr Jeyapaul Sunder Singh, Director of Buds of Christ are here tonight, and you will hear from them too about their experiences. We hope that our ‘Arts for Good’ initiatives will continue to serve as a powerful tool in raising awareness for social causes and fostering inclusive communities.
The SIF is committed to continuing conversations and deepening our friendship with India. With relationships at the core of our work, what we do would not be possible without the support and dedication of our friends and programme partners. We are delighted to appoint Mr Sathish Raman, Senior Director and Regional Head for South India, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as our first SIF representative in Chennai. I would also like to express our gratitude to Ms Kavita Choudhry, CII Regional Director for Europe, who unfortunately is unable to join us this evening. Kavita will continue for another term as our SIF representative in Mumbai. As voluntary SIF representatives in India, both Sathish and Kavita are instrumental in supporting our work of building friendships and “networks for good” between Singaporean and Indian communities. We thank Kavita and Sathish for their commitment and dedication in joining our cause.
Lastly, I wish to extend our deepest appreciation to each and every one of you for taking time to join us here today. Your presence is testament to the importance of international friendships for a harmonious global community. I wish you an enjoyable evening, rekindling old ties or making new friends.
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