Tom Sutherland, Founder
The Banyan Tree is essentially the creation of one remarkable, charismatic and visionary man, an Australian, Tom Sutherland who responded to a Christian call and went to work with Mother Theresa in 1975. Initially at Diamond Harbour she sent him to Kerala a year later and, using his considerable artistic ability, he became pivotal in developing craft work which provided employment for extremely poor and disadvantaged women.
His experience of dealing with the social problems and needs of these women and their families, a high proportion of whom are Dalit (the oppressed) formerly considered as outcastes, many are illiterate, all have few rights and little access to government services, led Tom to found The Banyan Tree in 2000. The Friends of The Banyan Tree was founded the same year in the UK to provide financial support and has remained a principal funder of the work of The Banyan Tree.