In June, MSIF visited the MS Society of India (MSSI) as part of a brand new collaboration.

Our Capacity Building Manager, Abdelfatah Ibrahim, and our Head of International Communications and Campaigns, Victoria Gilbert, spent five days in Delhi, meeting with a range of stakeholders and facilitating an initial workshop with MSSI representatives from across India.

During the workshop, which had 23 delegates from MSSI’s eight chapters (Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Indore, Mumbai and Pune), the group came together to identify key areas for possible collaboration at a national level.

The shortlisted areas for potential collaboration were advocacy, awareness raising, strategic planning, fundraising and rehabilitation. After a day of exploring how MSSI and MSIF could work together on these areas, the delegates voted and decided to pursue advocacy.

Mamta Gupta, chairperson of MSSI’s Hyderabad Chapter, said, ‘the workshop was different in its use of tools that would engage people with different styles of learning, to create an impact and promote creative thinking in understanding of the larger vision.’

Clear mission

Sarita Varma, governing council member of MSSI’s Pune Chapter said ‘the workshop was very well conducted and I think it achieved its primary goal… to stir up MSSI, bring clarity to our mission and rethink the ways to achieve our plans. MSIF brought us together as a single cohesive voice of the MS community in India.’

Abdelfatah said ‘this was a fantastic opportunity to meet with delegates from right across India and better understand the needs of MSSI at a national level. I very much look forward to working together as we develop this collaboration.’

Also during the visit, MSSI’s president and honorary secretary, Viresh Oberoi and Renuka Malaker, and Abdelfatah and Victoria, met with a range of stakeholders to better understand current perceptions of MSSI and areas for future engagement. This included a focus group discussion with people with MS, and a series of meetings with representatives from the Government, the World Health Organization and funders.

The visit was part of a wider programme in which MSIF will work in collaboration with MSSI to build its profile and increase the impact and effectiveness of its country-wide work. Over the coming months, MSIF will work with MSSI to recruit a consultant, deliver tailored training and develop tools and resources that will help to drive this work forward.