The Help Kids India story began 29 years ago with a young teacher and a big need.
In 1989, Betsy Dailey, an American teacher at Kodaikanal International School, Tamil Nadu, India, saw the plight of local children living in dire poverty. Knowing God’s love for us, Betsy wanted to help the children, “the least of these.” Her background in early education found the answer in the crèche concept, a safe haven where children are nurtured and educated.
Betsy opened the first crèche, Mabel’s Care, with funds given in memory of her grandmother, Mabel Wilson. Between 1990 and 1998, three new crèches were started: Grace Kid’s, Little Lilies, and Peach Tree. In 2003, Helping Hearts Crèche was opened, and the Good Shepherd Crèche opened in 2010. Mabel’s Care Crèche is now under the management and support of Bethania Foundation, Indiana, USA.
Betsy’s model addressed a crushing need and was a demonstrated success. As the program expanded and Betsy returned to the US, the Betsy Elizabeth Trust (BET) was created to run and oversee the crèche program. Named after Betsy Dailey, BET’s mission remains to alleviate the suffering of children born into severe poverty in rural India. Hilda Isaac, BET’s executive director, trained under Betsy at Mabel’s Care and has been with BET since its inception. In addition to its five crèches, BET has since founded a health center and two sewing centers to better support their mission.
However, as the projects grew, more reliable funding was needed. In 2008 Help Kids India was incorporated as a 501 (c)(3), registered in Vermont, and supervised by a Board of Directors. Ann Peck served as its Executive Director for seven years, living half the year in Vermont and half in Kodaikanal. During those years HKI’s funding helped to purchase land, build schools, share administrative costs, establish the health and sewing centers and a smokeless stove project, as well as to help fund the operating costs of the crèches.
As BET gained experience and confidence, it was apparent that HKI’s partner was fully competent to manage independently in all areas except funding. In 2015 HKI’s Board of Directors thus decided to withdraw its paid personnel in India and take on the work of fund raising in the US themselves.
HKI is now, rather than assisting with the day-to-day operations in India, simply providing funding to BET to do their own work. This is the goal of all organizations which seek to help: that their in-country partners achieve strength and independence. We applaud BET’s achievements and have every confidence in Mrs. Hilda and their Board of Director’s ability to carry on the task with dedication and diligence.
In 2017 HKI’s Board of Directors committed to being an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff. They also decided to personally cover all administrative expenses related to HKI so that 100% of donors’ contributions can go directly to BET for the operating expenses of the three BET crèches that we support, Little Lilies, Helping Hearts, and Good Shepherd. The remaining two creches are funded directly to BET by Asha, Seattle, and the Geneva International School.