The Betsy Elizabeth Trust (BET) is a grassroots, charitable organisation in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.
It was started in 1989 by Betsy Dailey, an American teacher at the Kodaikanal International School, Tamil Nadu. She witnessed the problem of local children living in poverty, and her background in early education found the answer in the concept of a crèche, a safe haven where children would be nurtured and educated. As the programme expanded and Betsy returned to the US in 1998, the Betsy Elizabeth Trust (BET) was created to run and oversee the crèche programme. BET’s mission remains to give poverty-stricken children in rural India a better start in life and a brighter future through education.
BET was officially recognised as a non-governmental organisation by the Government of India in 1999 and holds a foreign contribution license, which allows it to receive donations from overseas. Government approved audits are held annually on all Trust finances. A Board of Directors, comprising five members from the local community, supervises the activities of the Betsy Elizabeth Trust. Today, BET provides schooling, nutrition and healthcare to 250 children, ages 2-5, living in extreme poverty.
Managing director and board member, Mrs. Hilda Isaac, who was head teacher of the first crèche and trained under Betsy Dailey, now oversees a staff of twenty-eight, including trained teachers, assistant teachers, cooks and two nurses.
Three of the BET crèches, serving 150 children, are located in the outlying villages of Kodaikanal, in the Western Ghat mountain range of Tamil Nadu. The India Project, an educational and service learning project at the International School of Geneva, has been one of BET’s supporters for the past 17 years. The Ecolint community has helped to support the three BET crèches in the Kodaikanal area, opening two of those crèches – Little Lilies in 2002 and Peach Tree in 2003 – and is still the sole donor for Peach Tree Crèche. The team continues to visit and contribute to the work of the three crèches year after year. The relationship between the two communities in Switzerland and India provides opportunity for social change through education and a service learning experience, as well as a valuable cultural and human exchange.