Nav Yatra



NAV YATRA - a search for an alternative

  Ratheesh, a boy with physical and intellectual disabilities we work with in the village.  
  The Crafts Place in Nav Yatra - Trainings in handmade paper and paper art and craft, terracotta, batik, candle making, weaving, natural soaps and shampoos.  
  The Crafts Place at Nav Yatra Training persons with disabilities in handmade paper, cards, lamps, diaries, calendars, murals, screen printing, terracotta, batik, candles, natural soaps and shampoos.  

swathi nagar
west fort
trivandrum, kerala, india

Some weeks ago, I sent an update of our work to you along with a request for support and I trust that you received this. I write this letter asking you please to help us. Our need for funds is critical as we have started day programs for persons with disabilities in the Nav Yatra facility prior to conducting more intensive trainings of a longer duration. If, in the meantime, you have made a contribution, Im thankful to you.

It was a deep desire of mine to return to India to do this work and I now rely on the support of relations and friends to run our programs. For me, all my energies are committed to this effort to make it a special place for those who come here. I'm fortunate to have with me a small group of skilled people in this effort.
I request you please to send your donation to The Stanley Francis Foundation, 22 Rustywood Drive, Toronto, Ontario M3A 1R8. The Foundation is a registered charitable organisation and tax receipts will be issued to Canadian donors. We're required to send detailed monthly reports of our activities and expenditures as a condition for receiving funds. Moreover, the Foundation is run completely on a voluntary basis with no part of donations going towards administrative expenses.

If you are not eligible for a tax receipt, you may - if you so wish - send your donation in my name to my address: 307 Swathi Nagar, Trivandrum, India 695 023. Nav Yatra cannot directly accept foreign funds for the time being as it does not have the required registration for this.

I wish to tell you that the people who've come to the facility have commented on the uniqueness of its concept, design and aesthetics and on the diversity of possibilities that it offers for trainings and workshops. This pleases me greatly as persons with disabilities are among the most marginalised people in Indian society, stigmatised and cast aside as they are. I send you some images of Nav Yatra below.

For me, the building of a "Community of Friends of Nav Yatra," consisting of relations and friends from different parts of the world who support us, would give added meaning to our work here in South India. It would also give us encouragement and strength to know that people spare a thought for us. I request you please to help us.

With Gratitude and Love,




May 2002

      It was at about this time last year that I made an appeal for funds to complete the buildings at Nav Yatra after running out of my savings. The facility is almost ready. There are only three months to go before we open our doors to
welcome persons with disabilities and children primarily persons with an intellectual disability, working children, street children, orphans. While awaiting the completion of the buildings weve been working with disabled persons outside the facility and this work will now be based within Nav Yatra together with the full complement of our programs.


Its a most beautiful and unique facility, I dare say.
Built along ecological lines, gracefully blending into the hillside terraces, integrating rainwater collection, alternative energy and organic planting of fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs. Speaking through its very design the message of beauty, joy, life, hope that we wish to bring to those that society here has cast aside. Designed to be multipurpose, accommodating anything from a training workshop to a dance program to an art and craft demonstration/exhibition, a volleyball game, a cooking class or
quiet places for meditation, yoga, acupressure or therapeutic massage. Meaningful work, dance, music, family support, social integration, normal life experiences, nutrition, recreation - all part of the programs of Nav Yatra to assist persons with disabilities to live more dignified, self reliant and fulfilling lives. And at a more purely medical level, we have elicited the skills of an ayurvedic physician and a homeopathic doctor and have entered into a collaboration with a reputed organisation here to place neurologists, speech therapists, psychologists and physiotherapists at the service of disabled people and their families




    What prompted Laurie Baker, 85, one of India's most renowned and radical architects, to choose Nav Yatra as the last work of his eventful life, God alone knows (Hes lived through the Indian Independence struggle, coming to this country from England in 1945 after Gandhi asked him to build here for the rural poor). He told me he liked the vision of creating a community with persons with disabilities and nature. I've not compromised as I've searched to bring this vision to reality - I don't intend to give up the search.  

We could not have completed the buildings without the assistance we received last year from relatives and friends who now journey with us in a visible way through these beautiful structures. But now, we need your help to run our programs. Several people have suggested that we try to build a 'Circle of Friends of Nav Yatra' consisting of people who would make a contribution to us each year. Some people are already organising a garage sale, charity BBQ and dance for us. Some have sold our handmade cards. This really encourages us. Our annual need is $16,500 Cdn. ($10,000 U.S.). Our commitment to simplicity makes it possible for us to run a facility of this scale on this size of a budget. The Stanley Francis Foundation, a registered charitable foundation, has obtained approval for Nav Yatra to be included as one of their charitable projects and can therefore issue tax receipts to Canadian donors. Funds raised are released to us on condition that we submit detailed monthly reports of activities and expenditures, making us accountable for monies we receive.

The Foundation was started by Stan Francis who on retiring from his business practice committed himself to doing something for the poor in Africa and in India, the country of his birth.

I request you please to send your donation to The Stanley Francis Foundation, 22 Rustywood Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3A 1R8 noting 'for the work of Nav Yatra' and your name and address on your cheque. I prefer that your donation goes through the Foundation but if you do not require a tax receipt and if you so wish, you may send your contribution in my name to India (307 Swathi Nagar, West Fort, Trivandrum, Kerala 695 023). On my part, I assure that I will continue to work at this effort with determination and sincerity.  I'd also be really pleased if you came to visit us here in south India.

With Gratitude and Love,


Nav Yatra (New Journey) attention Stanley Francis
22 Rustywood Drive
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3A 1R8
Telephone 416-444-9171
Keith Saldanha at :

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