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Posts Tagged ‘Friends Unite’

Friends Unite to Use Solar Energy to Help Advance Education in Rural India

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Raleigh, NC – Friends Unite, a Raleigh based non-profit focused on providing the support necessary for people and communities to help themselves, has partnered with Brahmi, an humanitarian organization, to install solar panels at the Anjana Vidyakendra School in Guttahali Village, India.

The solar panels will provide a more reliable source of electricity to the school. Currently, Anjana Vidyakendra suffers from severe electricity shortages, often on the power grid for only three to four hours each day.  Even when electricity exists it is very unreliable. The solar panels will also enhance educational opportunities by allowing the creation of a planned computer lab.  Solar energy is an effective method to bring the benefits of modern technology to the school and community.

Brahmi, under the direction of Dr. Channa Raju, founded the Anjana Vidyakendra School in 2001. The school provides education to rural children who would otherwise lack access to educational opportunities. Brahmi is dedicated to primary education and the spread of literacy in rural India. With such inconsistent access to power, students at Anjana Vidyakendra did not have the light required to study properly, and the school’s goal of creating a computer lab was not feasible.

“My parents came to the United States originally from India and have helped many relatives also emigrate over the years.  While I thought I understood what it meant to be under-resourced, I only truly obtained a perspective when I actually traveled to India over the years.  Despite the rural nature of this school, they have leadership with a vision to enable these children to far exceed expectations with some assistance from others.   I see this not only as an opportunity to raise these children a step or two, but also to become a model for other organizations to follow in educating their own children,” said Ketan Soni, Board Member, Friends Unite.

The solar project at Anjana Vidyakendra will provide a more consistent and effective educational environment. The solar panels provide a self-sustaining method of securing power versus being reliant upon an uncontrollable electrical grid.

“This project will give these children an opportunity to take the ideals of the environment in which they grew up and place them on an even playing field with those who have more advantages. The atmosphere of accountability and awareness of the impact on the environment will stay with these children and influence the attitudes they carry with them into adulthood. If access to modern technology is the key to advancing educational and economic opportunities, so is access to sustainable energy,” said Soni.

Friends Unite Elects New Board Member

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Friends Unite, a charitable organization focused on providing opportunities and support to people and communities so they have the power to help themselves, announced today that Ketan Soni was elected to the organization’s Board of Directors.

Soni is a Managing Attorney for a North Carolina based law firm, Rosen Law. From 2004 to 2006 he served as Branch Managing Attorney, prior to that time he was an associate attorney with the firm. In his senior positions with Rosen, Soni has introduced technology to increase production, has focused on long-term and short-term strategic planning and has worked to maintain the quality and growth of the firm.  Soni has a J.D. From Wake Forest University School of law and a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 2002.

“I look forward to collaborating with the outstanding Board of Directors and partner organizations of Friends Unite. I am honored to help advance the mission of an organization that hopes to play such an important role in shaping the future of people who have the determination and vision to improve their lives and the lives of those around them,” said Soni.

“His vision, common-sense, business skill and ‘power within’ philosophies make him an excellent addition to our board. We’re excited about what Ketan will bring to our organization,” said Murali Bashyam, founder, Friends Unite.

Friends Unite Visits Kilisa Africa To See Program Possibilities In Action

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Raleigh, NC – Friends Unite, a Raleigh based non-profit focused on providing the support necessary for people and communities to help themselves, recently returned from a trip to Africa.  The trip allowed Friends Unite to gain a firsthand view of various community-driven development programs, and meet, in person, representatives from an organization they are partnering with to make a difference in Kilisa, Africa.

“It gives you a completely different perspective to actually be there on the ground and see the situation in a village like Kilisa. Though we’ve been working from a distance, being there gave us a firsthand sense of the real need as well as the potential impact we hope to have,” said Pam Prather, vice president, Friends Unite.

Friends Unite has partnered with African Economic Foundation (AEF) to aide the village of Kilisa, a mountainous village in Eastern, Kenya, in building a strong village-based economy -  one where resources are maximized and services and products are sold at the best prices possible. The trip followed an invitation by AEF to visit Kilisa and see the social-economic development projects initiated by the Kilisa Village Development Community (KVDC). The organizations are working together to move Kilisa’s natural dependence on subsistence farming into opportunities to invest proceeds in other revenue-producing projects.

“When we visited the village we saw so much potential. Seeing what the people of this village have already accomplished was awe-inspiring. The resources that we take for granted are completely lacking in this part of the world, but they have pooled their collective strengths to create an impressive irrigation system and high school. The villagers are also skilled farmers with a long history of connecting with the land. Helping Kilisa and other villages like Kilisa, to us, became about figuring out how to build upon their strengths,” said Prather.  “We started this from thousands of miles away but traveling to Kilisa made understanding the scope of creating a village-based economy much clearer.”

Friends Unite and AEF have created a plan to take advantage of Kilisa’s current food surplus brought on by this year’s significant rainfall, rainfall that represents a break from the region’s recent severe drought.  The current food surplus provides an opportunity for AEF and Friends Unite to train villagers in Kilisa and other communities on food preservation, storage, marketing and sale.  The hope is for the village to use this training and the food surplus to generate revenue for the community when market conditions improve.  This revenue can then be used by the residents of Kilisa to ensure food security and to promote other community-based projects such as micro-financing and expanded education. “We strongly believe that this joint venture will ensure the continued availability of food as well as seeds for tomorrow’s crops, putting Kilisa on a path towards sustainable food security,” said Dr Philip Mwalali, patron KVDC, AEF co-founder.

“We hope to develop a business model that can create continued revenue and jobs. Our goal is to realize long-term benefits in the region by helping communities in Kilisa learn to run these programs self sufficiently as well as build upon them. If this project is successful, it can be replicated to other villages around the area,” said Prather.

View a video of Friends Unite’s visit to Yangngua Secondary School, Kilisa, Kenya

Local Non-Profit Helps Children in Southern Sudan

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Friends Unite announced that it will partner with the Southern Sudan Fellowship (SSF) to help children in Southern Sudan.  SSF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization whose mission is to improve the lives of Sudanese families in North Carolina and Southern Sudan through education, enrichment, and cultural exchange.

SSF is planning to build a secondary high school in the village of Akot in Southern Sudan.  Once built, the school will accommodate nearly 300 students.  It is also being considered as a school exclusively for girls.  “Friends Unite supports access to education for children who otherwise do not have it.  What SSF is doing in providing education to children in Southern Sudan is something Friends Unite can enthusiastially support,” says Murali Bashyam, President of Friends Unite.

To read more about and support SSF, please visit their web site at

Friends Unite Taps Anoroc to Develop Global Brand

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Friends Unite, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization,  hired Anoroc Agency, a Raleigh based digital media and marketing agency, to develop brand positioning strategies and brand touch points including the Friends Unite logo, identity, Web site, and collateral.

AnoLogix, the agency’s digital marketing division will develop Friends Unite Web strategy including SEO, CRM strategy and functionality. The Anoroc team will also be creating the non-profit’s social media strategy including a privately branded Friends Unite social networking site, Facebook platform and custom blog site.

“There are many challenges that face people around the world – poverty, health, education, disease, and hunger being among them. Friends Unite believes that people have the strength, knowledge, and desire to help themselves if given a chance. The organization’s mission is to not only provide monetary capital to help people, but to focus on human and intellectual capital as well developing networks small and large to unite for common charitable goals. We’re very excited to partner with them in accomplishing their mission,” said Deborah Loercher, president, Anoroc Agency.

About Friends Unite: The charitable mission of Friends Unite is to provide the support necessary for people to help themselves, and to partner with companies, individuals and communities who can change people’s lives through innovation, technology, social progress, and expansion of knowledge. Friends Unite will provide funding and support for the advancement of education, health services, and other basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter that are often compromised by poverty.

About Anoroc Agency: Anoroc helps companies re-invent, re-emerge and re-position by creating branding strategies that speak to their consumers uniquely and directly. Anoroc builds brands through strategic marketing, advertising, brand development / positioning, graphic design, integrated public relations, digital media, Web development, social media, experimental marketing, film/video.   Visit Anoroc at