Bethania Branch of SABHA

24 نوفمبر


The Bethania branch of SABHA began in December of 2004 as a response to the destruction caused by the Asian tsunami. The Atlanta International School (known commonly as AIS), a private school located in Buckhead, joined forces with the Kodaikanal International School in southern India, using the school’s local knowledge in order to send aid to those who were in most need. It was through the Kodaikanal International School that AIS came into contact with the Bethania Orphanage, formally known as the Bethania Association. Located in the small town of Kannivadi, Tamil Nadu, the orphanage houses both orphans and needy children.


In the summer of 2005, Mrs. Shanta Kalyanasundaram, the founder of parent organization SABHA and a teacher at AIS, formally adopted the orphanage and created a student run CAS (Community, Action, Service being the three pillars in the International Baccalaureate’s extracurricular requirements) group in order to raise money to support it. The Bethania group is, therefore, run almost completely by the students, including both high school students as well as middle school ones. Each year these students plan and run the annual Bethania Benefit, an event that acts as the group’s primary fundraiser. As this is such a large event, involving not only a dinner but entertainment, which usually manifests itself as a varied assortment of performances by the students, as well, it takes most of the year to plan. Every week, the group meets and discusses the details of this fundraiser, which has traditionally been an immense success, raising money not only through the tickets purchased by the attendees, but also through the items bought in the live auction that takes place throughout the evening.


The fact that Bethania relies so heavily on the students for its success is only one part of what makes it such a unique organization. Using the concept of sustainable development as its basis, the Bethania branch strives to provide aid to the orphanage through less traditional means. Instead of simply sending money, the organization chooses to provide the orphanage with the tools it needs to cultivate its own continued success. In the past, Bethania has raised money for livestock, seeds, a proper water supply system, and education for the children. These projects along with many others have served to improve the lives of the children drastically with the final item being the most important. The Bethania branch believes that, if given the proper education, a child will be able to better their lives and then, in turn, better the lives of others living at the orphanage. This use of a cyclical model of benefit has proven to be extremely successful so far, much more so than the traditional one-way flow model that is seen so often in foreign aid models.

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The concept of sustainable development and sustainable design focuses solely on creating something that is either renewable or capable of supporting itself without additional input. This has been applied to the idea of foreign aid with varying success. The plan created by the Bethania branch of SABHA falls under sustainable development and design as it aims to create an environment in which the receivers of aid, in this case being the orphanage, can use skills and infrastructure they have been provided with to support themselves without any additional interference from the organization. This forces the orphanage to sustain itself and, in turn, produce a renewable resource in the form of its educated children, who can then go on to join the workforce as skilled laborers.

The two negotiations we find the most interesting are: the relationship that exists between the orphanage and the Bethania organization in terms of “donor” and “receiver”, raising the question of who being what, and the effect of education on the community as a whole, how it influences development and quality of life not only for those being educated but their surroundings as well. Through the Bethania case study, these two areas of interest raise interesting facts as well as questions, creating a complex web of exchange between not only the organization and the orphanage, but between the orphanage and its surrounding communities, allowing the organization to indirectly benefit a much broader area of need.

1 Response to Bethania Branch of SABHA



ديسمبر 15th, 2010 at 3:59 م

I really like this case and the negotiations stated. I especially like the first one because the question of who is the donor and who the receiver is not a one way question. Instead, it could go either way and in turn the second negotiation, can be extended to the Bethania organization society growing and learning from the orphanage’s surrounding communities. The entire web initiated between the orphanage and the Bethania organization presents new possibilities of forms of aid for that area. Also, it would be interesting to find out what sponsors Bethania organization is partnered with to see what resources they are interacting with through their efforts. I like the fact that this organization is not just sending money over to help; yet instead it is teaching those their how to hold their lives so not only does they earn an education of survival, but their standard of living improves as well.
-Smruti Keshani

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