From The New York Times – “Many of India’s Poor Turn to Private Schools”

The demand for private English language-emphasized primary and secondary education is also a common trend in the Tiruporuur Block of Kanchipuram District, Tamilnadu India among the poor and not-so-poor rural villagers we serve.

Rather than send their children to work illegally in small factories and field work, or to critically understaffed and underfunded government schools, almost all families will try to scrimp, save, beg and borrow at all costs to enroll their children in sometimes questionable and often inordinately expensive private schools. Their sacrifice is justified by the distant hope that their children, sons and daughters both, will be able to emerge from the hopelessness of poverty that is life in landless rural India.

SAVE-INTL’s goal  is to provide one more small boost up the steep hill to middle class success to these same children, many of whose parent’s simply can’t afford private school fees and are relegated to attendance at government schools. Our contribution is through our management and sponsorship of free after school study enrichment centers, staffed by paid teachers, in twenty two different local villages.  Half of the Tuition schools are in SAVE-INTL constructed Village Community Centers of brick and steel-bar reinforced concrete with fans and electric lighting, with the remainder in private homes enhanced for the purpose of school study or in Community Centers constructed by now long gone NGOs.

Because of the increasingly erratic availability of power to rural villages in Tamilnadu, all of our Tuition schools need auxiliary lighting systems consisting of car sized batteries charge controllers and inverter systems that can be charged during the times that current is available. Consider sponsoring a quality auxiliary power system for $200 per school or support for the modest salaries for our part-time tuition school teachers many of whom are themselves struggling financially. Write to me at for more information.

Curtis John Degler

Touring some of SAVE's Programs and Projects by Catherine Grigioni


A sewing student and SAVE employed sewing and tailoring instructor

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!










Opening Day For A New Library – Report by Caroline Keane

Irula tribal children posing on the steps of their new Community Center

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.

handing out some of the library books

After John said a few words to inaugurate the library, the children eagerly queued up to borrow their first books.

Some of the children wasted no time and started to read the story books right away.

So how did the library happen?

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.

And it works. The villagers are proud to have their library and they take care to manage it well. It’s amazing how such a small donation and a simple idea can have such a big, lasting benefit.

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.

Sewing Machines provided for the Kunnapattu Irula Community Center

Thenmozhi, the tailoring teacher employed by SAVE-INTL and TVO, demonstrates the use of the sewing machine.

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.

The Irula village children assemble for a group photo

The Joy Of Skipping Rope!



Billboard erected in Mullipakkam village congratulating student's success on the S.S.L.C. and 12th grade examinations. From the left are C.John Degler, Sengkharani, Prakash, Ayappan and Caries Wilson

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”


Amuur Computer Center getting a coat of paint from our High-Tech volunteer painting crew

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.

Anitha Rajesh addressing the friends of the Amuur Computer Center

C. John Degler and Anitha with assembled friends and supporters in Amuur

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.

Siva and Pyush mixing paint

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.


The painting done for the day, the volunteers, our hard working water carrier and C. John Degler assemble for a group photo

Construction Starts On Ellandoppu Village Community Center Portico

Concrete being mixed for Ellandoppu Portico footingsDue 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.

Ellandoppu portico footings

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.

Concrete load carriers constructing portico footings