On October 13th, 2011 I had the opportunity to spend a few hours visiting several facilities supported by SAVE. This was my second visit to the area. In February of this year I attended the opening of the Mundiritoppu Village Community Center. Sonny Saravanan from Tamilnadu Village Outreach also showed me the SAVE supported Health Clinic in Amuur and a crèche, or pre-school feeding and child care center known locally as a Balwadi or Anganwadi.
I also had the chance to visit with the women at a few Community Centers including Mundiritoppu. These Community Centers, established and built by SAVE in association with Tamilnadu Village Outreach, are used for many purposes including after-school tuition centers for students, meetings of women’s organizations and other associations, to host small wedding, engagement, and other village ceremonies, and as sewing and vocational training centers.
I was particularly interested in seeing the skills being learned by the village women. Many of the centers which I visited serve as sewing centers by day, where the women are taught how to sew and embroider under the watchful eye of a skilled teacher. These skills are put to immediate use in making clothing for family and friends. As Deepavali (or Diwali as it is known in Northern India) is coming up, a time when, as part of the celebrations, wearing new clothing is traditional, many of the women were sewing for their own daughters and those of other community members. SAVE, by providing the physical space, sewing machines and the teachers, has given these women an environment where they are able to learn a useful skill ,giving them a sense of pride and an opportunity to contribute to their families’ livelihood. The accompanying pictures show some of their work. Thank you Sonny! It was a great day!
Due to the popularity of our Tuition School teacher and our offering of free S.S.L.C. exam coaching, the 15Ft X 25Ft Ellandoppu Village Community Center originally constructed by SAVE-INTL in June 2007 has grown too small to accommodate the upwards of 50 students who come nightly and on the weekends for supplemental educational classes. Therefore we have engaged VVN Construction to build a mandapam or portico in front of the existing building to increase the useable space by 150 square feet.
The design will be similar to the portico we previously constructed for the Karanai Community Center and will have a raised cement floor, cement sheet roof and provisions for two tube lights and one CFL bulb and be attached to the front of the existing structure.
The footings of the portico will be one meter below grade and the columns supporting the roof will be of steel reinforced concrete.
We will also have a blackboard on the left side outside wall of the building exterior so classes can be better conducted outside the building itself. The portico has been contracted at about 49000 Rs or about $1100 US and should be completed in another two weeks with a useful life of 30 years or more. The costs of the Ellandoppu Portico have been financed by SAVE-INTL but your contributions, no matter how small, are welcome in helping us make this small improvement in the lives of the rural poor of Tamilnadu.
Work is well underway for the inauguration of the long-planned Amuur Village Computer and Technology Center, located in a two room building constructed by TVO and SAVE-INTL with the financial assistance of the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund of Kiel Germany.
The Center is conveniently situated on the Main Road between Tiruporuur and Manampathi, just south of the Old Mahabalipuram Road in the Tiruporuur Block of Kanchipuram District, about 35 KM south of Chennai, Tamilnadu. Just adjacent to the Village Bus Stand, the building has a flat concrete roof with the computer center room about 5 by 8 meters in size. We have already brought three phase power to the building and wired the computer room for a minimum of eight computer work stations.
Work was completed today on the repair and remodeling of the electrical lighting and ventilation system at the Anandapuram Community Center.
We completely rewired the center using wall mounted conduit and copper wire, new fuse board, two new switchboards, three branded ceiling fans, six fixtures for 2o watt CFL bulbs, two 4o watt tube light, and proper ground or earthing capable of handling a computer or two (some day). In addition we installed three exterior lights, one over the staircase to the roof and two on the front of the building which faces a small plaza-like public area. Total cost was 19700 Rs or about $450. The work was completed and guaranteed by a certified electrician with whom we have worked before.
A gallery of photos of the completed work and also the final work contract and original estimate can be seen here.
The Center was originally constructed in 2002 by an Internationally known NGO but not maintained by them or the local government. In the past few years it had fallen into serious disrepair and became essentially unusable by the community due to the failure of the wiring system, and lack of lighting and cooling during evening hours. It has still been used to store some empty rice bags, athletic equipment and to shelter pre-school children during daylight hours who were eligible for the Government supplemental feeding program, but that is all. Besides the failure of the electrical system, the flooring of the center, just thin poured cement, has started to break up and leaving sandy patches, which will worsen, and both the exterior and interior paint have faded, peeled and been covered by black mold. The building is however structurally sound, with a strong foundation, walls and roof and of an expensive and desirable construction. Therefore SAVE-INTL and its partner TVO have undertaken to bring back to life the Anandapuram Community Center, and with it, the fallen esteem of this poor Dalit hamlet. Now that the building is illuminated from the interior and exterior we are currently holding and sponsoring a free after-school evening Tuition school with a local paid part-time teacher, who holds a B.S. degree and who is currently studying for his teaching certificate. Additionally, the building can now again be used for village functions such as marriages and engagements, birthday parties, community meetings, etc. In the immediate future we hope to begin women’s vocational programs, such as sewing and tailoring, and start a community library. We have already begun sponsorship of the villages championship volleyball team, see a subsequent post here. We still need to repaint the building and repair the flooring, preferably with quality glazed tiles, and for this would very much like some financially help and sponsorship from a private organization or individual donor. Please look into your heart.
On February 13, 2011, we officially inaugurated the Mundiritoppu Village Community Center, located in Amuur Panchayat, Tiruporuur Block, Kanchjeepuram District Tamilnadu India.
Present were the Tirupuur Block Union Panchayat President Ms. VijayLakshmi Krishnan, Mr. Kuppan, Amuur Panchayat President, Uscha Nagaranjan Union Vice Chairwoman of Tiurporuur Block, Steve Mills Of Prime Trust, C. John Degler, President of SAVE-INTL, S,V. Saravanan, Managing Director of TVO and other dignitaries, foreign guests, local officials and leaders and many Mundiritoppu Villagers.
In 2002 the International NGO World Vision constructed a Community Center for the Dalit Village of Anandapuram , located in the Manampathi Panchayat area of the Thirupporuur block. Since that time the Anandapuram Community Center, unsupported by either the founding NGO or the local Panchayat Goverment, has deteriorated to the point where it has become virtually unusable with damage to its flooring, no functional electrical, lighting or ventilation system and is also in very bad need of both interior and exterior repainting.
This is a pity since the building remains structurally sound with no leaks or cracks or serious problems with its doors or windows and would cost over $8000.(US) to replace, an amount which this poor community could simply not afford.
The Village of Ananadapuram, located in the Manampathi Panchayat, is within easy bicycling distance of two other TVO and SAVE-INTL sponsored community programs in the villages of Kazhanipakkam and the Kunnapattu Irular Tribal Hamlet.
Bulletin Board – 2010
1. Total Families: 77
2. Total Persons: 277
Male :140 Female: 137
3. Ages 0-5: 24
4. Ages 0-36 months, (No entry)
We have already initiated a free Tuition school for children using as our teacher an Ananadapuram resident with a BS degree in Zoology who is simultaneously taking a degree course in Education. However they are unable to meet at the Ananadapuram Community Center since there is no electricity to the building, possibly due to damage to a power pole, and in any case all the lighting fixtures are bulbs are either broken or missing.
We are determined to rehabilitate the Anandapuram Community Center and more fully use this facility for the benefit of the over 270 mostly poor rural people who make this village their home. This would include continuing support for the Tuition school, starting a women’s vocational program and a children’s library, support for the youth sports teams and more.
The repair estimate from our regular and trusted general contractor totals 57500 Rs or about $1270 and includes replacing the floor with glazed tiles, rewiring the room with two fans and four or more CFL bulbs, and repainting both the interior and exterior of the building.
Once returned to its original condition SAVE-INTL and TVO pledge to continue support for the children’s free tuition school, establish a women’s vocational program and more and make sure the Anandapuram Community Center remains in good repair.
But we need financial help with returning this valuable community resource to its original condition.