CHENNAI: After her flight landed, her first destination was a local slum where she interacted with a few widows and divorced women. They shared their stories with her. Not the sob stories of losing the breadwinner of the family but inspiring stories of how they became the breadwinners themselves through a little financial help from Ma Foi Foundation and Sisterhood Foundation.
Tine Arentsen Willumsen, founder, Sisterhood Foundation, started her project to offer financial support to widowed and divorced women in Chennai. The Danish woman is the marketing director in a diamond business. Though she started the foundation five years ago, her perspective towards the destitute women around the world began to change when she was 17.
“As an exchange student, I went to Australia where I met women from different countries. Later, while travelling for business, I met more women. I realised there are unlucky women who lack independence, financial support and education.” At 40, Tine set up the foundation, raised money and made the first donation to help women in Chennai.
She was told about Ma Foi Foundation by two other Danish people who had associated with the Chennai-based organisation. Soft loans were given for buying a large oven, hiring more people or to purchase a certain raw material and only 6% interest was charged. The money collected was again invested to help another women group in need.
“We raise funds with an auction. I go to my clients and ask them to donate things. I always host it in November so that when someone bids and wins, I tell them it’s a great Christmas present!” laughs Tine. This was her first visit to Chennai and Tine hopes to continue to provide donations and help women stand up for themselves. “We need to be strong and independent. I’m a feminist and want equal opportunities for every woman. My efforts have helped 170 women and 80 girls take a step to a good life and freedom. After all, I was born lucky and it’s my duty to help the ones who aren’t so fortunate.”
For details, visit www.sisterhood.dk