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.
On August 25th 2011 we distributed two free notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, and erasers, to each of more than 125 school children who attend our sponsored free Tuition Schools or evening study centers in Kazhanipakkam, Anandapuram and the Irula tribal enclave in Kunnapattu Panchayat. This was made possible in part by a donation of 50 Euros from one of our long time supporters. Please consider making a similar small donation to help distribute free school materials to needy rural children. We support and maintain an additional 19 tuition centers in the Tiruporuur block of Kancheepuram District, Tamilnadu South India. For more information about our programs please download this factsheet.
Here is a link to a gallery of photos of the notebook distribution.
Panjanteertee is at the end of a hard to find country road in a remote area of Tiruporuur Block, Kanchipuram District, Tamilnadu. No buses stop there. It is a 100% Parayar Caste Hamlet and the land around it is very heavy with clay: terrible soil for agriculture. Uninhabited until about 30 years ago when the CPI political party worked successfully to have the village relocated from land they were said to be “squatting” on ( i.e. had no legal right to under laws administered by local Upper Caste dominated government, police, and judges.)
When Sonny Saravanan, my partner from Tamilnadu Village Outreach, and I went to inspect the finished electrical remodeling of the Anandapuram Community Center we were met by the informal so-called young men’s Youth Group of the village. They were very grateful for the work we had done to make their village community center useable again after so many years of neglect and were very appreciative of the professional quality of the rewiring, the high levels of lighting and the three high quality fans that we had installed.
As is quite common in the villages where SAVE-INTL is active, there is a youth volleyball team in Anandapuram, and it is our policy to support these teams with free volleyballs and nets when requested. The Anandapuram Youth Group asked me for some help with a new net and some volleyballs, as they had none, and I remarked that there was already a good net strung up on their steel volleyball net standards in front of the community center and wondered why they needed another one. They explained that the net I was looking at actually belonged to another village and that their own net was badly damaged. I asked that it be brought out. While the net was in bad shape, I said that it could be used as a practice net with the purchase of some fishermen’s string and rope and a little work but that we would immediately provide them with some quality volleyballs which I had in my office in Mamallapuram. A committee from the Anandapuram Youth Group soon came to see me in Mamallapuram just before my departure for a two month trip outside India.We gave them a couple of quality branded volleyballs (see photo) and I promised on my return to provide them with a tournament quality net. They then told me the following story which I feel is illustrative of the problems faced by India’s Amateur Sports Groups.
Their village fielded a youth volleyball team two years ago which participated in a Tamilnadu State-wide tournament of villages. In their own District of Kanchipuram, which has a population of over two million, they managed to attain the rank of SECOND best volleyball team, despite the small size of their village of just 274 inhabitants, and a handful of young men.
This is a truly remarkable achievement for a poor rural Dalit village, yet no Gov’t Sports Authority, Private Business or NGO has seen fit to help (at least to date) them continue to pursue their excellence by supporting them with volleyballs or nets.
I promised to help them with volleyball equipment as long as they continued to aspire to be the BEST village volleyball team in Tamilnadu. They also asked for uniforms/jerseys for their team, a request I promised to consider.
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.
The students attending the Amuur Village School will soon see a large improvement in the sanitary facilities available to them during school hours, thanks to the generosity of the Malar Trust of Italy who have agreed to fully sponsor their rehabilitation, pledging one Lakh (100,000Rs).
The current Amuur school toilets have become virtually unusable and the facility entry wall is in serious danger of collapse, plus the currently facilities are not designed with separate areas for boys and girls.
The availability and condition of toilet facilities in Indian Public has long been a problem that affects primarily girls, especially those who are near maturity. Some of the consequences of substandard or non-existent facilities have been an increase in absenteeism or dropping out by girl students and an increase in urinary tract infections.
This problem is well recognized by the media in South India. See the article (link below) from The Hindu, an English language newspaper published out of Chennai and one of India’s oldest and most respected news journals:
Some photos of the Amuur School Toilet facilities.
Here some photos of the boys and girls attending the school whose access to education will be enhanced by the repair and remodeling of the toilet facilities.
After consulting with the Amuur school officials to determine their requirements, an estimate and plan to remodel and rehabilitate the Ammur School Toilet was provided by Mr. Viswanathan of VVN Construction who has previously worked with us on several projects. The new toilets will have four toilets each for boys and girls, the facility will be divided by a common wall and the entry way will be demolished and separate entry ways for boys and girls will be provided.
But before we could proceed further we required an official letter from the Amuur School Officials Requesting that we remodel the toilet and giving permission for same.
TVO and SAVE-INTL really needed some independent financial help to accomplish this project which brings us back to the beginning, namely our good friends at the Malar Trust, who after carefully reviewing the plans and my report have most generously agreed to fully support this project financially which should enable SAVE-INTL and TVO to ensure that the students of Amuur Elementary School will have with safe, sanitary and functional toilets and an improved educational experience.
Construction should begin in a few weeks at most once the winter Tamilnadu monsoon season is over. We will post the contract once that has been signed.
THANK YOU MALAR TRUST!
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.