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Friday, January 22, 2021

Tender Heart: A novel Indian experience through Katy's eyes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Indefatigable – a term to describe a person who persists tirelessly. This is the word that comes to mind when I hear of yet another effort on the part of Katy Fitzgerald to raise funds for her work supporting Tender Heart. Based in Bhatola, a village two hours from Delhi, this Indian NGO founded by Renu Bali, runs classes for local children, including a special needs unit for children with disabilities. It also supports women’s empowerment by running courses for local women to learn handicrafts in order to earn a living.

Katy Fitzgerald

Raising funds through crowdfunding, organising trivia nights, asking her friends and family for donations and selling her photographs, has been an ongoing activity for Sydney-based Katy, since her association with this Indian non-profit. Never disheartened, she starts again soon after each trip, with yet another idea to make a difference to the lives of the kids at Tender Heart. This time round, it was an exhibition of photos she took on various trips to India, that helped her raise funds.

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The photo exhibition at Gallery 371 at Marrickville was well received and Katy will soon be heading back to Bhatola. The funds raised will provide art materials to run workshops for the kids and take them on excursions to art galleries and museums in Delhi, an opportunity seldom available for them.

The photo exhibition drew a lot of people through the three days it was open.

“I feel really grateful for that,” Katy told Indian Link later.

Describing her works, she explained, “There is so much about India that I love but I wanted to capture the quirky, light-hearted side of India. People often talk to me about all the poverty in Indian context and I don’t want to gloss over that, but Indian experience is so much more than that.”

A sage walking with a bull

The colour, spontaneity and vibrancy of the lives of Indian people, from Nainital in the north to Mahabalipuram in the south, have been captured over five trips made to India.

A die-hard Indophile, Katy is ever surprised by what she describes as the “ingenuity in the way they do things” to get so much more out of life.

On past trips, Katy has conducted writing, art and photography workshops and taken children on many excursions to Delhi. With an aim to making sure her time at the school is well spent, Katy plans her trips well in advance with a loose idea in mind. “You can’t really plan for India,” she laughed.

Turbans

“Things have a way of ultimately falling into place though,” she added sagely, now with a better understanding of how things work in India.

Downplaying all the hard work put around organising her photo exhibition, Katy said, “I feel things just happen around India for me. It is never a chore.” It is this that keeps her going.

The exhibition raised more funds than her expectations and this makes her happy as well as humbled.

“If the kids at Bhatola did not have Tender Heart, they would have very diminished lives,” she said of the difference the school has made for the kids.

Learn more about Tender Heart at www.tenderheartngo.org

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Jyoti Shankar
Jyoti Shankar is a freelance writer and sustainability professional, who is passionate about nature

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