FairMail closes its doors in India

Posted at 8 October 2014

FMIcloses300Unfortunately FairMail founders Peter and Janneke had to take the very difficult decision to close FairMail India.

What happened?

Due to an old family feud between two families of different FairMail teenagers, an unprecedented amount of mutual anger and envy was unleashed in the hearts of these families when two teenagers had a serious complaint about one of our team members. The combination of wrong behaviour of the team member, accusations without proof and strong reactions to these accusations led to an actual police intervention.

Dangerous situation

We were shocked by the speed of the developments and how late we were informed by the other team members. When the police case started false rumours were spread about FairMail’s activities and the tension between the team members rose quickly. It has resulted in an unworkable and even dangerous situation for the team members and volunteer photography trainers of FairMail India and for us personally. This is evident due to the fact that the team member is currently in prison for over 10 weeks on accusations that are not properly investigated. We are doing the best we can to help him get a fair trial.

A great loss

The above forced us to the decision to stop all operations of FairMail in India as of the first of October 2014. This means that no new photos will be provided by the Indian teenagers. This is a great loss. Luckily we were able to come up with a solution in order to keep selling their cards and allowing the teenagers to keep investing in their education through the sale of their photographs. FairMail has signed a cooperation agreement with Asha Deep, a local school providing education to underprivileged children in Varanasi. Over the past years FairMail has cooperated with Asha Deep to recruit new FairMail teenagers and cooperate with them in guiding the teenagers. Currently 9 of the 10 FairMail teenagers are studying or have studied at Asha Deep school.

The least-worst solution

As of October 2014 Asha Deep will be responsible for providing the teenagers with their part of the FairMail earnings to invest in their education and providing the guidance in how they spend it. They will also collect the bills to justify these expenses so FairMail can keep guaranteeing that the teenagers’ money is spent on their education. Our former manager can keep his work and salary to support his family as he will help Asha Deep in the administration of the teenager’s funds. As he will also keep FairMail updated about the progress of the ex-FairMail teenagers we can keep you updated on how they are doing and investing their money.

What does this mean for the teenagers?

Despite the horrible past weeks we hope to be able to focus again on the goal we had in mind when FairMail started in India: give these teenagers the opportunity to follow their dreams and study what they really want. The numbers prove that most of the teenagers are on their way in achieving that. Since the beginning of FairMail India in 2009, 16 teenagers have earned over 45.000 euro to invest in their education. 56% of the teenagers are still in secondary school, 19% finished and kept on studying after that. Of the 4 teenagers who didn’t finish high school 2 teenagers used their FairMail earnings to start their own business. Of the 9 current FairMail teenagers (the other 7 already retired), 6 are preparing for their advanced education. Our estimate is that they will have enough funds to finish their higher education through their current savings, in combination with future earnings from their old photos which will still be sold. The 3 newer FairMail students might not earn enough money with their photos to finance a whole career as they do not have that many cards yet. But Asha Deep has offered to try to fulfil their educational needs through donations from their regular donors.

All in all a very sad chapter in the history of FairMail. We will of course evaluate on the lessons learnt and incorporate these in our strategy on how and where we can increase FairMail’s impact in the future.

Tags: India, Results

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