Who we are
The name of our Association, Vimala, or “purity”, comes from the name of the dermatological hospital in Mumbai for the treatment of leprosy.
The Association was founded on 12 January 1999 as a charitable, non-political and non-denominational association that pursues the sole objective of social solidarity with those who are disadvantaged due to their physical, mental, economic, social or family conditions.
The Association works with the Amici delle Missionarie dell’Immacolata (“Friends of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate”) and a group of volunteers actively engaged in supporting the many Tibetans who have fled from Tibet, in addition to giving support to other independent and necessary projects.
What we do
Our attention is focused on children in need, who have been abandoned, are suffering from leprosy or serious diseases.
We also assist Tibetan refugees in refugee camps in India, by helping them to regain a dignified life and to overcome separation from their families, always with due respect for the culture and traditions of these people.
Besides offering immediate material assistance, we offer the possibility of planning for a better life. The Vimala Association organizes sponsorships and participates in funding education for children in the slums, offers scholarships for deserving pupils who want to continue their studies, and also supports projects in the fields of education, health and community.
How we achieve our aims
Every cent that is given to us is used entirely to implement our projects since all costs incurred by the Association are covered by members or benefactors. We are all volunteers and we are actively and directly present in the areas concerned.
By means of periodically planned trips we are able to follow the development of the projects up to their completion. Maintaining the results obtained is ensured by subsequent accurate checks.
To get to know us better
I live in Lugano, I have two sons and four grandchildren. I began my adventure as a voluntary worker in India with Dominique Lapierre. A few years later I joined my sister-in-law Ornella and an Italian group that was helping the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate in their leper colony in Mumbai: sponsorship of children with leprosy or whose parents or relatives are ill. In 1999 Ornella and I founded the Vimala Association in Lugano and very soon afterwards we met Debbie who had already been working for many years assisting Tibetan refugees in India. The synergy produced gave a new impetus to the Association which since then has brought to completion a large number of projects. This work has given me an immense amount of joy and satisfaction, it has given me the opportunity of meeting some truly fantastic people in both continents, and especially the possibility of helping those in need. My son Federico also participates in the Association, thus ensuring its future.
I am from Turin but have been living in Milan since I married. I have two daughters and five grandchildren. In 1991 I felt an urgent need to actively assist people less fortunate than myself and I believed that in some countries simply with a smile you can be repaid by another smile. So it was that I started my humanitarian adventure in India, in the leper colony in Mumbai. A few years later, together with my sister-in-law Mimmi we founded the Vimala Association that to-day, with the splendid support of Debbie as well, works mainly for the health and education of children in India and Tibetan refugees in India, but also has humanitarian projects in many other countries. To-day, considering what we have achieved – “a drop in the ocean” – it is a joy to think of how many smiles I have received and with the hope of receiving many more still.
In charge of Tibetan Refugee Camps
My name is Debbie but now everyone calls me Debbie-la, almost as if I were Tibetan, and I like it very much. Young, rebellious and restless, when I was 18 I set off alone on the roads of India, not really sure what I was looking for but I certainly found it, because I have never stopped going and travelling to all corners of this continent. In this immense country I immediately felt at home and it gave me the opportunity of getting to know the Tibetan people, the refugee camps where they found shelter, the very troubled history of this people, their language, their culture. For me it was a revelation, empathy and love at first sight that gave me the impetus to commit myself personally; I wanted and had to do something for this extraordinary people, who have been living for over 60 years in exile and who need and lack everything. My story is short to tell, 29 years of voluntary work, initially alone, then better organized and with so many projects completed or on-going thanks to meeting Mimmi and Ornella at the end of the 1990’s and the Vimala Association, where we pooled our joint efforts, thus giving them greater potential. Living between Italy and India, I think of my voluntary work as a bridge, bridges unite and connect; I have no children, perhaps because my family consists of them, all my Indian and Tibetan children whom I have seen and see growing up, all these children for whom Vimala does everything possible to offer a better future.
Born in Paris, I studied in Florence where my family was established for professional reasons. From 1973 to 2013, date of my retirement, I lived and worked in Geneva. From 2000 to 2013 I was responsible for administration and human resources in a «family office». In 2013, I decided to follow Mimmi to India to discover how Vimala was handling its activities. The Saint-Bernard attitude of helping others which I had as a child was re-awakened by what I saw during my trip and I decided to join the group where my working experience is helping to analyse the feasibility of the projects.
In charge of Solidarity Tourism
I made my first trip to India in 1992 for the purpose of meeting the Tibetan little boy that I had adopted through Debbie. It was an extremely emotional experience, and in spite of the fact that we could not communicate in a traditional manner, we were immediately bound by love and still to-day, now that he has grown up and no longer lives in India, we are always in contact. That meeting, and many others during my journey, made me want to do something more, and so my story began, seeking new sponsors for children and elderly people among acquaintances in Italy.
Later, I became part of the team more actively, with frequent trips to India so as to get to know the situation and the needs of this people better. At present in the Association I organize sponsorships together with Debbie. It is a joy to know that many people after many years still continue to assist their children and old people.
I have two sons, Tommaso and Niccolò, I live in Lugano, I did classical studies, but I have been working in the finance sector for 15 years.
I have for many years and with enormous pride been following the voluntary work of my mother, my Aunt Ornella and the whole group of charming ladies who commit themselves with a smile.
In 2012 I at last accompanied the expedition to India and, of course, I returned much richer than when I left.
Since then I am happy to help in whatever way I can.
Become one of our supporters
Please contact us to find out more about us or how you can support a particular project or cooperate with our Association.
There are many ways you can help us, either with a cash donation, or offering your services, products or cooperation, or participating in the events we organize and fundraising in your area.
Via Canova 16 – 6900 Lugano
IBAN CHF: CH59 0849 0000 2712 1000 6
IBAN €: CH97 0849 0000 2712 1000 1
Corso Italia 22 – 20123 Milano – Italia
C/C 99190 Associazione Vimala