International Day of Charity

Why 5th September means so much to Shivia

It moves me deeply to know that International Day of Charity falls on 5th September to commemorate Mother Teresa whose death anniversary is the same day.  

Rarely a day goes by when I do not think of her and the inspiration she gave to me – through my father – to start Shivia, helping some of the poorest families in West Bengal to get themselves out of poverty.  

My father was brought up in Kolkata and my grandfather, through the Catholic Church, helped to raise funds for Mother’s first clinic, the Loyola Dispensary for lepers and supervised the construction of the building. He also raised funds for one of her first ambulances.  My grandfather died very suddenly when my father was 17 and so the family were relocated back to the UK; this left a huge hole in my father’s heart and life.  However, I was fortunate to benefit from hearing the stories of his life in Kolkata and the family’s close friendship with Mother.  

The stories and the cine film footage he showed me captivated my imagination and so when I had the first real opportunity between school and university in 1998-9, I went out to India for much of the year.

Very sadly Mother had died the year before but I went to work for a friend of hers, KC Thomas, who founded and set up a wonderful home for abused and abandoned children, Familia.  My stay at Famila changed my life – I saw the desperate poverty of the women and families in the villages around Familia and through my own research later on, I realised that what they lacked was access to finance and the ability to commercialise their manifold skills.  

These were the seeds for Shivia.  I am always grateful to Mother Teresa and whenever I am asked the question: “is there any point to small charities like Shivia given the millions of people in India in poverty?”, I think of Mother’s quote: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”.  Messages such as these encourage me to keep on going irrespective to the many challenges that charities often face.

Olly Belcher

September 2021

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  • It has been a pleasure to help shine a light on the inspirational work that Shivia does. The team’s passion and determination to make a lasting difference to families living in poverty – and doing so respectfully – is clear in every interaction. By contributing support for their marketing communications and brand identity evolution, we hope that they will be able to empower even more people in the future.
    Rebecca Lovelock
    Founder at Bretom
  • Shivia’s work is very impressive - how it is carried out and who the people are working in the locations.  It is a very healthy and together team which is being very effective.
    Jane Meyer
    Trustee of T&J Meyer Family Foundation
  • "The work Shivia does is simple and yet so life-changing, we’re thrilled to have been part of the charity’s growth story and hope to partner with them for many years to come.”
    Marisa Charosky
    Coordinator - Artemis Charitable Foundation
  • Agri-management Services has the capacity to deliver lasting change for our farmers. I have always felt that the farmers feed our nation while they can hardly afford to feed themselves. What an irony. So if my team and I are able to help farmers earn a sustainable income through agriculture, there’s nothing better than this.

    Joe Rao
    Lead Consultant for Shivia
  • I have witnessed first-hand how Shivia has not just changed but transformed people's lives with its livelihood programmes.
    Yasmine Hilton
    Chairman - Shivia
  • Alquity supports Shivia because they transform lives by giving people the opportunity to do things themselves and they do it with dignity.
    Suresh Mistry
    Director - Alquity