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MSSO Vision

  • Sustainable economic and social development of the less fortunate in India, leading to their independence from external assistance

MSSO Mission

  • Create long term partnership of Canadian donors and hardworking, selfless, grassroots social workers in India to build the future and respond promptly to emergencies
  • Enhance the value of donations by carefully selecting NGO partners and effectively managing development projects
  • Empower women to be equal partners in achievement of social justice and equitable development
  • Promote balance between development and environment

Dr. Jagannath Wani leaving BIG shoes to fill!

"Many Indo-Canadians amongst us were born and raised in India. Our education in India was a major stepping stone to our comfortable lifestyle in Canada. Back in 1984, a group of Indo-Canadians felt the need to repay India for its contribution to our lives. This is how MSSO came to be."
These are the words of MSSO founder, Dr. Jagannath Wani, one of those rare people who rose above everyday life on our planet, observed how we live and decided to address elements in India to change from Canada, where we could find resources. He knew our partners in India had the willingness, entrepreneurial and inventive expertise to implement these changes to the lives of the less fortunate in India, and we Canadians could learn from India. Together with Vinayak Gokhale, Chintamani Adkar and Sunil Choubal, he hatched MSSO and Dr. Wani has been at its helm ever since, his name synonymous with MSSO. 26 years later, however, he has decided to move back from the helm, having announced this change five years ago. But Dr. Wani is leaving HUGE shoes for us to fill. Fortunately he is still on our Board, advising, guiding and sharing his experience and tips with the rest of us:

Nimish Rathod and his wife Shivali, an inspiring young couple, share Dr. Wani's dedication to bettering life for many in their homeland, and they enjoy great support for this philosophy from their families in India. In fact, on family visits to India, they have already visited numerous MSSO projects on their own time and expense, and also helped monitor progress for MSSO. Both Nimish and Shivali have grounded success in their respective fields of career and expertise in Canada. The Canadian saying "If you want


something done, ask a busy person" applies to these two young people's busy lives. They somehow make room for this most worthwhile MSSO work, and Dr. Wani is coaching them, and all of us, on the intricacies of applying for matching grants from Albertan and Canadian governments - writing these proposals entails a lot of skill.

Chandrakant (CD) Lad is another passionate advocate for the less fortunate in India, having his own projects in India ( CD has a grownup family and grandchildren in Canada, yet he, too, on his own time and expense, goes to India each year and monitors progress of MSSO projects, while monitoring his own.

 At the Public Engagement function in Calgary
Nimish Rathod, Eilish Hiebert, Jagannath Wani & Chandrakant Lad

Jivan Kayande, retiree from the ATCO Power, is a longtime member of MSSO Board, residing in Edmonton (while his children and grand children live in Calgary!). Having an MSSO Board member in Edmonton is a real advantage, as lots of Alberta activity takes place there, in Alberta's capital. Jivan does a wonderful job of coordinating volunteers for casinos to raise funds for MSSO, a pretty specialized job. Jivan is also very familiar with MSSO projects in India, as well as history of projects from the start of MSSO. Jivan and Siddhi are involved in various charitable organizations in Edmonton.

Eilish Hiebert is a bit of an anomaly, being an immigrant from Ireland in the 1960s. Eilish and her Canadian husband




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Murray run an international consulting and author business in Calgary while their children are established in their careers and live in Germany and Montreal. Eilish worked in international development for CIDA in the 80s and 90s and she and Murray met Dr. Wani in 1991, while touring development projects in India with then-funding CIDA western agency Director and staff from Camrose. Dr. Wani's projects stood out from the crowd, in their accountability, hands-on efficiency and impeccable reporting. Eilish was drawn to explore MSSO further. Already a member of the Western funding Board, Eilish & family began donating to MSSO; she later became a Board member and in 2010 MSSO President, with Dr. Wani's help, to transition us to our next steps without Dr. Wani.

Dr. Jagannath Wani, MSSO Founder & President is a retired Professor Emeritus of Statistics and Actuarial Science at the University of Calgary, where he was instrumental in the creation of an Actuarial Science degree program. Founder of more than 18 voluntary organizations in Canada and India, he has been active on their Boards. His fund-raising activities include several scholarship programs for university students, chair of Schizophrenia at the University of Calgary, a relief fund for 1993 earthquake victims and many projects on an annual basis for the less fortunate in Maharashtra.

Wish us luck! Your MSSO support lifts an amazing number of people out of immobilizing conditions and gives them dignity on their way to self-sufficiency. Please continue to support MSSO. Thank you!

Project Profile of MSSO work in India
From Desperation to Inspiration

Picture an attractive, vivacious, active girl, Naseema, full of the plans of youth, struck down with paralyzing pain at 16 years old, ending up a paraplegic, in suicidal grief and confusion. Those were the days in India when 'disabled' carried the implication of having done something wrong in a former life, bringing stares of sympathy at your seemingly diminished humanity….
Picture the same Naseema, a mature woman, over a quarter of a century later, symbol of hope for thousands of disabled - and able-bodied- Indian families, transforming the view of the disabled at all levels.
Yet, Naseema, with tremendous family support and inspiration from a disabled friend, started out just to find, manufacture or invent aids to daily living for the disabled, like calipers and wheelchairs and crutches.
She soon found out, however, with news of her efforts travelling miles and miles, that many disabled in families coming out of hiding in their homes and villages needed more than physical aids. They needed education - and SO did the population of their villages, towns and country, as to the dignity and worth of these individuals. The result: a hugely successful HoH NGO 'Helpers of the Handicapped' (non-government organization) in two locations in Maharashtra, India.
We are reminded that the name of this organization is not considered 'politically correct' in Canada. Here, the word handicapped has been replaced by 'disabled'. However,



name notwithstanding, this inspirational organization consists of a school, residence, and self-supporting farm, sewing program (350+ school uniforms per year), wheelchair and aids workshop (HoH school graduates even service hospital aids, beds etc!)

Missing hands? No problem! Feet can do it.

This is one example of the kind of organization that Calgary-based MSSO partners with in India. MSSO does NOT do frontline work in India. HoH and other organizations with a proven track record do the work. Our partners in India are the ones with expertise on the ground, able to work effectively within the culture. MSSO thoroughly screens and monitors every single aspect of accountability of all our partners. MSSO, along with Albertan and CIDA matching dollars, facilitates the work moving ahead, towards self-sufficiency. This has produced some amazing results, only one of which is our HoH example. (
HoH is one of many organizations MSSO has partnered with since 1984. We are grateful, and so are our partners, to our donors, organizations like ACGC and our provincial and federal government, for the 'hand up, NOT a handout' to the less fortunate in India; to the health, education, wellbeing and dignity of those less fortunate: physically and mentally handicapped; destitute women; oppressed farmers; nomadic communities; earthquake victims; tribal people; slum dwellers; financially deprived students and many, many more.

Blindness Prevention

Of the 45 million people worldwide who are blind, around 1.4 million are children under 16. The majority of these children are in underdeveloped and developing countries. Reducing visual loss in children poses particular challenges which are different from the challenges of controlling adult blindness. The number of lost years of life is far higher for children than those for adults.
Sharda Netralay in Dhule, Maharashtra, wants to improve the quality of life for children with vision problems. They will use two vehicles equipped with ophthalmic screening equipment to visit at least 3 rural schools and/or pre-primary schools per week and using well equipped ophthalmic tools




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examine 150 students on an average in those schools for ophthalmic problems. Sharda Netralay in Dhule, Maharashtra, will cover more than 500 schools and at least 25,000 students over a period of three years. The screening will identify children with potential vision problems and refer them to the ophthalmologist for further examination, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.

At the annual eye camp at Sharda Netralay

 Training will be provided to teachers to teach preventive eye health care and identify symptoms of vision problems. During the school visits, the partner will train at least 10 teachers per week for this purpose. Over the project period of three years, close to 1,600 teachers will be trained.


The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has approved a three to one matching grant. Against the MSSO contribution of $123,280, CIDA will provide $384,591 in matching funds for direct expenses associates with the project. The first installment of the matching funds was received in the last week of August 2008. JPS thereafter immediately started the construction work. Two selfless social workers from JPS, Dr. Vasant Tamhankar and Dr. Swarnalata Bhishikar, will be coordinating

Dawn of Hope

MSSO is in the process of producing a video CD of a novel project taking place in a small village of Maharashtra, India. The video CD is named "Dawn of Hope". Here is the story forming the basis of the video.

A basic principle of development is:
"…the solutions to the problems of the community have to be found within the community.

Driven with the desire of developing her native place- Bahadarpur, Ms. Nilima Mishra, after a master's degree in Psychology from Pune University and 8 years of experience in social work with eminent social reformist Dr. S. S. Kalbag founded the organization 'Bhagini Nivedita Gramin Vigyan Niketan' (BNGVN) in 2000. The organization is creating impact on the lives of the people, with their own efforts. BNGVN neither follows the Time game nor the Number game and thus does not get into a rat race to get Government Projects.


It identifies the needs of the community and implements issue based projects. It believes that the solutions to the problems of the community have to be found within the community. BNGVN facilitates the thought process and enables community to solve their own problems.
The poor people were trapped into the vicious circle of debt and its repayment with sky high interest rates up to 30% per month. The droughts and epidemics made the situation
worse. To resolve these problems "microfinance" was offered. This helped the beneficiaries to resolve their problems and get out of the vicious circle of expensive debts. When the community was getting empowered through microfinance, it was also necessary to inculcate some discipline as well as values in them. This led BNGVN to introduce the concepts like "Gram Nidhi" (Village Fund) and "Aadarsh Gaon" (Model Village). BNGVN mobilizes the "Gram Sabha" (Village Assembly) to make the community responsible for their own development. The Village Fund is used to make loans to the needy on the recommendation of the village assembly, which verifies the beneficiary fulfills the eligibility criteria. Social pressure motivates the family to abide by the terms set by the village assembly. The beneficiaries, though poor, are really diligent in paying back installments of the loan. So far BNGVN has recovered 100% amount of loan.
The grass-root workers are from the local community, who understand the beneficiaries and talk their language in their way. This helps BNGVN to gain trust of the community and establish a wonderful rapport with them. Finances are provided to fulfill family needs and to sustain income generation activity. Realizing the need of power of unity, the movement of self help groups (SHGs) has evolved into 1800+ SHGs of men, women and youth in four districts of Maharashtra. So far 23 crore rupees (5 million dollars) have been distributed through microfinance scheme to the beneficiaries.

"We shall find a way, don't despair."

Through SHGs, efforts were made to empower women by giving them work as well as market for their products, and encouraging them to establish cooperatives like "Bhagini Kendra" and "Bhagini Vyapari Sanghatana".
BNGVN started its intervention through providing sanitation facilities to the community by lending loans and by constructing public toilets to be maintained by the village.
BNGVN is taking steady but very firm steps towards empowered and self sustained communities through economy and self discipline.




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Set of MSSO Documentaries

For easy access, six documentaries produced by MSSO have been put into a set of two DVDs. The jacket on the DVD box summarizes the contents of these documentaries. You may order the entire set by sending $10 to MSSO at the address given at the end of this newsletter.



Heartfelt Thanks to Volunteers

Jivan Kayande and Rohit Desai organized the following team of volunteers to help MSSO in its fundraising activity, on 30th and 31st July 2010. The proceeds from this event will be utilized for the Blindness Prevention among Rural Children in Dhule and Nandurbar districts of Maharashtra.

Arun Bakshi

Nimish and Shivali Rathod

Ashok Sharma

Rajan Patel

Deepak Sharma

Rajesh and Jayashree Joshi

Ishvar and Hansa Thaleshwar

Rajesh Pancholi

Jagannath Wani

Rakesh Bhat

Jagdish and Kusum Dalal

Ramesh Aggarwal

Jagdish Thaker

Ramesh Khullar

Jivan Kayande

Rohit Desai

Krishan and Lata Katyal

Savita and Jitendra Patel

M.P. Sharma

Subhash Karkhanis

Magan Chavada

Surendra Sisodia

Mahendra Jain

Suresh Jani

Mahendra Thaker

Vasudev Dhodia

Mathews Changrathil

Vinod Marwaha

Munawar Chaudhari


 Public Engagement re-named 'Global Citizenship'

On 9th October 2010, MSSO held a public engagement function to highlight the CIDA funded project: Integration and Rehabilitation of Physically Challenged. The screening of the documentary When Aspirations Transcend the Sky moved the audience.



A number of them made donations for the project and some offered to volunteer to help the cause of the Helpers of the Handicapped. Every time there is a disaster (tsunami, earthquake, flood) there is an outpouring of donations. In the face of such generosity, asking questions like those above and these below seems almost blasphemous:
- Who is managing disaster funds in Canada AND overseas?
- What will this money do - specifically?
- What kind of records will be kept?
- Who will be accountable to donors?
- With present infrastructure, how do we know our donations will physically get there AND into appropriate hands?
These questions are born of experience. After MSSO experiences (e.g. Latur earthquake early 90s) MSSO partner on the ground there said "DON'T send any money! There's a black market in blankets, bricks, tents…"
Three years later, collected monies from Canada, with matching CIDA dollars, built a seed-crushing oil factory that had long term benefits for earthquake victims for years to come.
MSSO wants to run an interactive seminar in six Calgary locations January 2011, examining these two kinds of overseas aid, both necessary: short term relief and long term development.
'Ek Cup Chya' an MSSO produced film made possible by Alberta Gaming Commission funds, will be screened October 22nd, 2010 at Calgary's Plaza Theatre as part of the second annual Hidden Gems Films 'Alternative to Bollywood' film festival. Dr. Wani was interviewed by CBC about this film's attempt to inform ALL Indian people about their right to request AND receive information on issues affecting their lives - a powerful piece of information for the poor.

Toronto Chapter

MSSO Toronto Chapter is actively promoting various MSSO projects. They held two fund raising events - "Gift of Sight" in aid of Sharda Netralay which provides eye care to poor people and "Gift of Knowledge" in support of Nachiket Bal Vachanalay which has established libraries for children in remote villages. The volunteer base of the chapter is steadily increasing. For more information, contact Sudhir Joshi at <> or by phone at 416-463-9150.

MSSO gratefully acknowledges assistance of the following in the production of MSSO News.
Canadian International Development Agency
200 Promenade du Portage, Hull, Que., Canada K1A 0G4
Polyphase Engineered Controls Ltd.
3555 - 93 Street, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6E 6N6

Donations to MSSO are eligible for tax credit
(charity registration No. 10765 4410 RR 0001)
You may send your donations to:
Maharashtra Seva Samiti Organization
4 Strathbury Circle SW,
Calgary, Alberta

Phone: (403) 288-0048, email:
Visit <> for details