Lessons From Brazil
December 17th 2011
Volume 28 – Issue 26 :: Dec. 17-30, 2011
Reports of the rape of four Irular women, coming soon after the verdict in the Vachathi case, send shock waves through Tamil Nadu.
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!
It always amazes me to see the rich and wealthy believing it is easy to survive “adequately” on what is for them mere pocket coins not worth counting…
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Note: Rs. 25 is the equivalent of between $.45 and $.50, or about $180 a year.
While I was in India last year, I was lucky enough to visit some of the rural villages that SAVE-INTL and TVO works with near Mamallapuram. I got to see first-hand many of their wonderful programmes and projects. One very special event I attended in May 2010 was the opening of a new library at the Kunnapattu-Irular Community Center.
This was a very proud day for the village, and both parents and children came along to celebrate the occasion and borrow their first books. Everyone was excited to have their very first local library.
After John said a few words to inaugurate the library, the children eagerly queued up to borrow their first books.
This library is a brilliant idea. It’s wonderfully simple, low cost, and works really well. It brings books to this very poor community and helps them to value the importance of reading and learning, especially for their children.
With a very small donation from supporters, John bought a variety of low cost books from suppliers in India. There are books to suit all ages, and they’re engaging as well as fun to read.
The local women covered the books in transparent paper to make sure they last as long as possible.
Then John bought a large sturdy tin box to store the books in. A local man volunteered to be the librarian and take responsibility for managing the library. He looks after the books, manages borrowing and lending and makes sure that the community takes good care of their library.
It was wonderful to see that the library is just one of the many uses of this small one-roomed community centre. During the day, local women have sewing classes here and in the evenings children attend classes run by local teachers.
SAVE-INTL and TVO do a great job. I was really impressed at how well they’ve helped these communities, and how they make the most of their modest budgets. The local villagers I met are very poor and disadvantaged. With their help, they are improving their day to day lives in many different ways.
SAVE-INTL and its partner, Tamilnadu Village Outreach, have continuously sponsored since 2008, a free after school study program in Mullipakkam village, one of the poorer socially disadvantaged villages in the Tiruporuur District of Tamilnadu. Because of the very large number of students attending the school sometimes more than 150, there are two separate evening sessions and three paid part-time teachers, all of whom are highly dedicated to the goal of preparing the local rural youth to compete for jobs and professions in a rapidly growing and developing India. On their own, these three teachers organized a special coaching program for 10th and 12th grade students in Mullipakkam and surrounding villages who are obligated to take tough statewide qualification exams at the conclusion of their school year. These test are crucial in determining a students future educational opportunities and are quite tough with many students failing one or more sections resulting in passing certificates being denied them. Continue reading “MULLIPAKKAM'S OUTSTANDING TEACHING ACHIEVEMENT”
In India, as in most places, business is often conducted between friends and acquaintances and those to whom we are personally introduced. So it is with getting institutional support for our slowly developing Computer Center in Amuur. One of the American Directors of SAVE-INTL had some years ago developed a friendship with a colleague at work who was on temporary assignment from India. Time passed and they lost contact but were not forgotten. My Director mentioned this past contact to me and through the miracle of Internet social networking I was able to locate her and, surprise, she worked for a major Indian technology company in Chennai, Tamilnadu. I wrote to her, rekindled an old friendship with our American Director, and also found a corporate sponsor willing to help with launching and maintaining our long-awaited Amuur Computer Center.
First a visit was needed to Amuur to verify that the SAVE-INTL Computer Center was a potential reality more than some mere imagination. So on July 22, 2011 Anitha and a colleague, Augustin, came down from Suburban South Chennai to Amuur Village to meet me and take a look at the Amuur Computer Center. More than 30 people were present to greet Anitha during her inspection of the facilities, and cookies and tea were served. Anitha made a well received speech about the support she would try to organize for the Center through her employer, HCL Corp of India. She said she would try to organize some volunteers through HCL to help paint the Amuur Computer Center building and also work to provide qualified teachers and computer instructors to help make the Center a thriving reality of benefit to the community.
Subsequently on August 20th, 2011, 15 young volunteer painters from HCL, most of them computer and software engineers, who work in Chennai but came from all over India, joined myself and my SAVE-INTL assistant, “Kutti”, in painting the interior and exterior of the Center with paints purchased by SAVE-INTL but with brushes that the volunteers brought with them.
After demonstrating that they possessed the computational capabilities to mix paint (name the two ways you can get exactly 4 liters of water by adding and dumping water from a 3 liter and a 5 liter bucket!), they all set to work on a fine partially cloudy day with lots of youthful energy and camaraderie. A lot was accomplished and everyone agreed that it was a fun and useful way to spend a Saturday. As noon time approached we took a break and ordered parcels of rice and sambhar and enjoyed a meal.
We took a lot of photos, too numerous to display on this page but I have included a link to a gallery of the best images I took for the downloading pleasure and enjoyment of the volunteers. Let me say, again, a BIG THANK YOU to all who participated: Sumit Kumar, Vinod Kumar, R. Venkateraman, Ayaskanta Mishra, Sivakumar Tallari, Ankur Kumar, Santiago Martin, Sivakumar Shanmugan, Piyush Mathur, Jetwin, Kannan, Ch. Royal Appaji Rao, Venkata Ramana A, Ugandhar Sheela, (apologies for any misspellings) and of course Anitha for making this all possible.
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.