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


Distributing notebooks, pencils and sharpeners and erasers to 5th grade students at our Tuition School in Kazhanipakkam village.

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.


The Malar Trust, based in Northern Italy, and dedicated primarily to increasing the availability of Higher Education in Tamilnadu among the poorer and socially disadvantaged classes and communities, has been the partner of SAVE-INTL on several projects in 2011. Together we funded and managed the rebuilding of the toilet facilities for the 200 students in the Amuur Panchayat one through eight grade government primary school, a project now successfully completed. Additionally we together sponsored, funded and managed a pilot program of free coaching for the crucial Secondary School Leaving Certificate Examination given statewide in Tamilnadu and India at the conclusion of the 10th grade. The latter was such a success that the project has been expanded to approximately six more free coaching centers starting in September 2011.

A report from the Malar Trust on our joint activities can be downloaded here:

Scroll down to pages 4 and 5.

Curtis John Degler

Mullipakkam Volleyball Team Supported

As part of SAVE-INTL’s ongoing support for youth athletic teams we provided the Mullipakkam Village team with two branded volleyballs on July 22, 2011.  SAVE-INTL sponsors a tuition school in Mullipakkam which is directed by Mr. Sengkharani on the left in association with John Wilson of the W.E.T. NGO based in Sembakkam Tamilknadu.  Volleyball is an increasing popular participant sport in Tamilnadu with many villages having multiple teams and with the State Volleyball Team of Tamilnadu being the champions of India in 2011.

Comparing Indian States by Population, GDP and GDP Per Person to other Nations

The Economist has prepared a map of India which shows graphically and by statistics the economic and social condition of different Indian states by comparing them to countries in the world which have closely equivalent numbers. Remarkable and clearly shows that India, despite all the hype about its emergence as a developed super-power, has a long long way to go.

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SAVE-INTL, In Collaboration With Pacific Rim Voices, Rehabilitate Defunct Panjanteertee Village Water Well


Well Drilling Team Cleaning Damaged Panjanteertee Drinking Water Borewell With Compressed Air

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.)

Continue reading “SAVE-INTL, In Collaboration With Pacific Rim Voices, Rehabilitate Defunct Panjanteertee Village Water Well”