The Betsy Elizabeth Trust
The Betsy Elizabeth Trust (BET) is a grassroots organization in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. BET provides schooling, nutrition and health care to 250 children, ages 2-5, living in extreme poverty. BET’s projects are fully staffed by qualified Indian nationals who manage the day-to-day operations of its five crèches and the sewing and health centers.
BET was officially recognized as a non-governmental organization by the Government of India in 1999 and holds a foreign contribution license, which allows it to receive donations from overseas. Government approved audits are held annually on all Trust finances.
A Board of Directors supervises the activities of the Betsy Elizabeth Trust. BET services are offered to children in need, regardless of religion. The foundation of the crèches is God’s love and children from all religious backgrounds are welcome at the crèches.
Betsy Elizabeth Trust Outreach Projects
In 2008, BET opened a sewing and training center to provide impoverished women with much-needed employment. A full-time teacher leads the program and five women are now employed in sewing and weaving. The center workers create tote bags, pillow covers, quilts, yoga mat cases, sarongs, and specially requested items.
Initially the project was funded by Marie Theiss, an American volunteer with HKI. The Sewing Center is actively seeking retail outlets for its projects and working to bring in more orders, and more workers, as this is achieved.
The Sewing Center women take part in all crèche celebrations, parent workshops, and teacher seminars. When a substitute for staff is needed at the crèches they are called upon, and some have moved into crèche positions permanently. Without exception, these women have difficult home lives. The sewing center provides them with a safe haven, friends, meaningful and creative work, and some income.
In addition to generational poverty, most of the parents of the children who come to the crèches are functionally illiterate. They lack the knowledge and resources to avail prenatal care, for good hygiene, and in taking basic care of their children’s health. Lora Chatfield, an HKI volunteer and registered nurse, traveled to Porayar to make a preliminary needs assessment. She found that there are no near-by health services in the region and village people urgently wanted and needed the program.
BET joined forces with the Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) to start the Health Center in 2007 to offer basic care and health education to Porayar and neighboring communities in the tsunami affected coastal area. It is open to all.
Students from the St. Johnsbury Academy, VT, raised $5,000 and traveled to Poriyar to build a dedicated space adjacent to the Helping Hearts Crèche for the Health Center. The Poriyar Health Center is staffed by a nurse midwife who is in the Health Center or at the crèches six days a week, but is always on call.
The Porayar Sewing Center opened in 2016 thanks to an American donor who set up the program and supplied sewing machines, supplies, and rent to get it started. Three women are employed. BET originally used this building to house the Good Shepherd Crèche. The women also keep a garden here that helps stock the crèche kitchens.
The Betsy Elizabeth Trust Board of Directors
There are currently five board members, all Indian nationals.
Mr. William Jesudass, President
Property officer and church administrator, Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church
Mrs. Hilda Isaac, Executive Director & Board Member (since 1998)
Managing director of BET-operated crèches, health center and sewing center. Mrs. Hilda trained under Betsy Dailey and was a Head Teacher. She now oversees a staff of twenty-eight nationals including trained teachers, assistant teachers, cooks and two nurses.
Mr. Gnanaprakasum, Treasurer, Trustee since 1998, past BET President
Economic director of social work, Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church
Mrs. Jayanthi, Trustee since 1998
Mrs. Thilaga, Trustee, 2015
Physical therapist and early childhood specialist
Please keep in your thoughts past BET members:
Mrs. Ananthi resigned this last year for family reasons. She was a board member since 1997 and introduced Mrs. Hilda to Betsy Dailey.
Mr. Imbaraj passed away in December, 2014. He was instrumental in acquiring the Foreign Contribution Account number for BET in 1997, allowing BET to receive foreign funds. Mr. Imbaraj was a board member from then until his death.