Board of Trustees of The Voice of Dalit International
Mrs. Irene Culas
The Founder Chairperson. Her visits to Indian poor Dalit villages and her association with social activists, inspired her to found Voice of Dalit International in 1999 in The U.K. Trained as a Civic Champion in 2001, under The Millennium Commission she continues to be the moving spirit of VODI. She volunteers in all the day to day activities of VODI especially in fundraising and networking.
Mr.V. J. George
A Dalit activist from India. The involvement with Dalit development work started during the student days itself. As a graduate student Mr. George was the District Committee member of Kerala Harijan Students Federation (KHSF). Later he worked with Kerala Harijan Federation (KHF) as an activist.
After the education, Mr. George took up applied research of issues relating to tribals and Dalits which later on made him an activist again working for the marginalised communities. In 1994, he started working with traditional fishermen as the Project Officer of Trivandrum District Fishermen Federation, a people’s organisation of traditional fishermen in Kerala. This involvement with traditional fishermen community still continues. At present he is also the Chief Executive of Coastal Educational and Cultural Trust (CECT), an organisation working for the traditional fishermen in South India.
When Voice of Dalit International started in 1999, Mr. George was one of the founding trustees and lived in the UK for three years for setting up and nurturing VODI. Later, he returned to India on the invitation of the Minister for Welfare of Dalits in Kerala, to be his secretary, which was a responsible position in government.
After the tenure in government, Mr. George took up the Dalit Christian issue- the struggle of Dalit Christians for constitutional rights as Dalits otherwise called Scheduled Castes in India. Together with a few other Dalit Christian activists, he formed the National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) as a platform of Dalit Christians in India. Mr. George is the National Convener of NCDC. The NCDC conducted series of struggles in Delhi and in different states over the last four years which eventually helped to bring national visibility for the Dalit Christian issue.
Mr. Varinder Kumar Samra
After having experienced the atrocities as a Dalit, Mr. Samra has been involved with the Communist movement in his State, Punjab, India. Since his arrival in the UK 18 years back has been involved in many ways to help the Dalit cause. Mr. Samra responded to VODI’s Gujarat Earthquake Appeal and communicated his life long desire of helping dalit cause and thus slowly became the trustee of VODI. He is also the Treasurer and campaigner of VODI.
Fr. Gerard Mitchell Sj
Fr. Gerard Mitchell Sj. is the Parish Priest of St. Anselms Church, Southall, Middlex, London Borough of Ealing.
Dr. Peter Johnson David
Dr. Peter J David is a General medical Practitioner, owner and Chief Executive of a Health Care Group, with 130 employees, 1 hospital and 2 nursing homes. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and the Institute of Directors and a Registered Member with the General Medical Council and the British Medical Association. He is a tutor in Imperial College Medical School, London and King’s College Medical School London. He is Visiting Professor, Department of Sociology University of Peshawar NWFP Pakistan and Attorney of the Church of Scotland in Pakistan. He is the President of Federation of Pakistani Christians in the UK and serving Pakistani immigrant population causes in Education, Health and Community development. Dr. Peter David’s keys to success lay in his belief of ‘Inspire to succeed’ and to ‘Never give up’.
He says “During the last 35 years while I have lived and worked in London I have worked tirelessly to undertake initiatives that bring together people and organisations of different faiths to create consensus and harmony between communities. I have successfully enabled the Pakistani communities living in the U.K to interact with the British politicians and leaders at the highest possible echelons of political and social strata. His most significant service to his country “Through my health care business, I have brought in the UK, absolutely legally, and free of any charges, 128 Pakistani nurses, along with their families, to work and live in the UK on work permits. I consider this as my biggest personal achievement in the service to my country”.
His biggest Political Service “I appealed personally and directly, with success, to the Secretary of the Commonwealth in the Head offices of the Commonwealth in London to allow Pakistan to be readmitted to the nations of Commonwealth. I bring to the attentions of many British M.Ps that I know the pressing national issues of Pakistan, to improve Pakistan’s standing internationally”.
He continues to donate generously to many educational, charitable, relief and mission work in Pakistan
Dr. Shreekant Borkar
Social Entrepreneurand trained Anthropologist. Doctoral research in Social Development Entrepreneurship, Policy practices and Policy Evolution. Closely associated with Social Movements from India and abroad.
Worked as Program Co-ordinatorwith VODI.
Key resource person on international Training program on ‘Leadership for Social Change’ (March –Aug 2012) organized by VODI, at St.Anslem’s Church, Southall, London.
Associated withBOND group Steering Committeeon CASTE and Development.
Team member of organizing Committee forConference on ‘Christian Responsibility towards Dalits and Caste Discrimination’, St George’s Cathedral, London ,in February 2014 and 10th May 2017
Straight after University studies, started working in the Marianad Community Development Project, for fishing community under Trivandrum Social Service Society, the first Diocesan Social Service Society in India by Bishop Peter Bernard Pereira. Initiated the first Fishermen Co-operative Society in south Asia with fish marketing as its cardinal activity surrounded by saving, credit, repayment, intermediate technology, land acquisition, housing, education, health etc. which brought a traditional fishing economy upside down. (Refer 20 minutes film about work in Marianad, shot in 1975 and given in the front page of VODI website with the following link http://www.vodintl.org.uk/story.htm ) Marianad Fishermen Cooperative became the model for the State Government to enact “Kerala Fishermen Welfare Societies Act 1981”.
He is the founding Coordinator of Programme for Community Organisation (PCO), which provided intelligent mass based institutional backing to the Kerala fishermen movement which paved the way for the enactment of “Kerala Marine Regulation Act 1981”. PCO is handed over to the Latin Arch Diocese of Trivandrum. He is the Founder of South Indian Fishermen Federation (SIFFS), Coastal Education and Cultural Trust (CECT), Trivandrum and Fathimapuram Housing Project. He was the Executive Director of Trivandrum District Fishermen Federation (TDFF), Initiated Sea Street- Kudappaduva Fishermen Federation, Nigambo, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
One of the 8 Founding Members of Voluntary Action Network India (VANI), New Delhi http://www.vaniindia.org/content.php?id=11 , Life Member of National Centre for Advocacy Studies (NCAS), Pune, India http://www.ncasindia.org/general-body-3, and founder and associate of number of local people’s Organisations and NGOs in India. In 1998-99 studied Dr. Ambedkar and his thoughts while staying with a Dalit family in Trivandrum and realised the extent of caste based poverty in the global development scenario. In July1999 left for UK for founding VODI as an international platform to work for Dalits, the “historically broken people”, who constitute 1/3rd of the global poor. He is the Director of VODI.