Bachchan-funded old age home looks to more Bollywood shows

Durban: A decades-old home for orphans and the aged in South Africa which was adopted and hugely funded by Amitabh Bachchan in 1998 is looking to hosting Bollywood shows as fund raisers amid an increasing battle for survival.

The Aryan Benevolent Home (ABH), started almost a decade ago to cater to destitute Indian aged, today runs a wide range of activities besides caring for orphans, people with disabilities and the aged who are often abandoned by their families.

In 1998, when he visited South Africa for his first show in the country as part of a world tour, Bachchan donated a huge amount to the home, resulting in the opening of a school for autistic children run by ABH.

But with donor funds drying up amid the global recession and government grants contributing less than half the annual operating budget of R40 million, ABH has in recent years turned to hosting Bollywood shows across the country to raise some of the R15 million annual shortfall.

ABH Chief Executive Officer Rajesh Lachman said the role of the organisation had changed dramatically since 1994, after the advent of democracy, when its facilities were opened up for all communities and not just Indian South Africans, which it had been forced to do because of apartheid era laws demanding segregation at all levels.

Having now also extended its activities to assist in alleviating poverty and unemployment, ABH wants to host more Bollywood shows to raise funds for a five-year plan which will result in more people becoming self-employed.

"We want to train people to become artisans such as motor mechanics, welders and other trades with support from both the business sector and government," Lachman said.


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