Mon expérience avec l’association ‘Tamil Nadu Village Outreach (TNVO)’

Sophie Marquet, teacher and students at Ellandoppu Village
Sophie Marquet, teacher and students at Ellandoppu Village, Tamilnadu India

J’ai participé pendant un mois (Janvier 2012) au projet communautaire de l’association ‘Tamil Nadu Village Outreach en ’Inde du sud. Ce projet créé il y a 7 ans par John(USA “South Asian Village Empowerment Intl “)  et Sonny (Inde), a été mis en place principalement pour aider les communautés pauvres, dites « intouchables », autour de la petite ville de Mamallapuram, près de Chennai, la capitale de la région.

Le projet vise particulièrement à aider les enfants des villages défavorisés en leur assurant une aide aux devoirs gratuite dans un local privé après l’école, et une préparation plus intense pour leur examens. Ici, l’éducation tient une très grande importance. Il faut avoir de très bonnes notes aux exams pour espérer être sélectionné à l’université, et aspirer à obtenir un travail décent. Dans ces villages, les parents sont souvent illettrés et ne peuvent pas toujours aider leurs enfants.

Primary school students at Salavankuppam Village Government School
Primary school students at Salavankuppam Village Government School

Le projet TNVO a donc pour but d’aider les enfants à obtenir de meilleures notes afin qu’ils puissent continuer leur éducation à l’université, comme les enfants des classes plus aisées.

Il y a au total 22 centres d’aides aux devoirs, dispersés dans plusieurs villages. Les professeurs, également issus des communautés locales, assurent un suivi scolaire gratuit à une vingtaine d’enfants, pendant environ 2 à 3 heures après l’école. Environ 450 enfants par jour sont concernés par le dispositif.

A local teacher and I discuss a library book while some Evening school student look on
A local teacher and I discuss a library book while some Evening school students look on

La démarche a déjà fait ses preuves. Les résultats aux examens de ces communautés se sont fortement améliorés et les enfants se sentent plus valorisés. Peut-être enfin l’espoir de pouvoir aspirer à une meilleure vie future.

 

Durant la journée, ces centres sont utilisés par la communauté, les femmes viennent y apprendre à broder et coudre. L’opportunité pour elles de pouvoir vendre leur propre création de vêtements, plus tard, si elles le souhaitent.

 

Le projet est essentiellement financé par des dons privés et des Organisations Non Gouvernementales (NGO) européennes et américaines. L’argent reçu sert principalement à construire et entretenir les bâtiments pour accueillir les enfants. Il permet aussi d’acheter des batteries pour assurer l’électricité lors des coupures de courant qui sont très fréquentes ici. En général, il n’y a pas de lumière entre 18 et 20 heures (économie d’électricité oblige). Cela ne facilite guère les études.

Les dons sont également utilisés pour diverses raisons : sponsoriser l’installation de canalisation permettant l’accès à l’eau potable d’un village, l’installation de WC dans l’école, ou de balançoires dans la cour. etc..

Il est également possible de parrainer un enfant et ainsi garantir son éducation. En moyenne, l’éducation d’un enfant dans une école publique coute environ 35€ par an.

Mon point de vue

Pendant cette trentaine de jours passés aux côtés des enfants, et des villageois, possédant très peu mais pourvus d’une grande richesse intérieure, je me suis rendue compte à quel point la société indienne, basée sur le système des castes ou communautés, est injuste et ne valorise pas le mérite.

J’ai visité plusieurs centres d’études. Et le seul fait de voir le sourire aux lèvres de ces enfants et leur reconnaissance envers leur professeur m’a tout de suite assuré que le projet de TNVO est plus qu’un simple projet communautaire et qu’il a un fort impact sur la vie future de ces enfants.

Les volontaires à long terme sont les bienvenus pour apporter leur aide, notamment pour l’enseignement de l’anglais. Et pour ceux qui ne peuvent pas venir si loin, le projet recueille dons et subventions et fournira un rapport prouvant l’utilisation de ce don.

Local school teachers, volunteers, and C. John Degler from South Asian Village Empowerment Intl appear her with me at the Salavankuppam Government Primary School

John et Sonny sont vraiment dévoués à leur projet qui les passionne et qui leur demande beaucoup de temps personnel. Je n’espère qu’une chose : que le projet TNVO se poursuive et qu’il continue à ouvrir de nouvelles portes à ces enfants des villages.

Sophie Marquet
seauseau@hotmail.com

Photographs and English captions by C. John Degler
curt.degler@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/31/world/asia/for-indias-poor-private-schools-help-fill-a-growing-demand.html

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 curt.degler@gmail.com 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FREE SCHOOL MATERIALS DISTRIBUTED TO VILLAGE TUITION CENTERS

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.

MUNDIRITOPPU VILLAGE COMMUNITY CENTER INAUGURATED

 

Cutting The Ribbon, from the right, Tiruporuur Union ChairwomanVijayLakshmi Krishnan, C. John Degler, President of South Asian Village Empowerment Intl and Uscha Nagarajan, Tiruporuur Union Vice Chairman

 

On February 13, 2011, we officially inaugurated the Mundiritoppu Village Community Center, located in Amuur Panchayat, Tiruporuur Block, Kanchjeepuram District Tamilnadu India.

 

The Completed Mundiritoppu Community Center

 

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.

Assembled Gov’t Officials, Foreign Guests, Villagers and friends

Continue reading “MUNDIRITOPPU VILLAGE COMMUNITY CENTER INAUGURATED”

Amuur Public School Toilet Facilities to be Remodeled by SAVE-INTL

Inspecting the outmoded and non-functioning Amuur Village Public School Toilets, from the right, Amuur Panchayat President Kuppan, C. John Degler from SAVE-INTL, Amuur School Headmistress Mahalahksmi, and unidentified Amuur teacher

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.

Composite showing ruined and unusable toilets in the Amuur School Compound

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:

“When Girls Fear School” – The Hindu

Some photos of the Amuur School Toilet facilities.

From the left S.V. Saravanan, President Kuppan and Headmistress Mahakakshmi and others in the background
Entryway to the Amuur School Toilet facilities - note the shared facilities and the serious cracks and sagging of the entry way.

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.

Amuur School Toilet Remodeling Estimate for 97,000Rs

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.

Letter in Tamil from Amuur School officials authorizing the remodeling of school toilets

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!

Coaching Program For S.S.L.C. Examination Launched

C.John Degler of SAVE-INTL and teacher Gnanasekaran inaugurate the S.S.L.C. Coaching Program in the Ellandtoppu Village Community Center

With the full financial support of the Malar Trust of Italy, SAVE-INTL and its local partner TVO inaugurated a new experimental pilot program on December 4, 2010 at the Ellandtoppu Village Community Center. We will be offering free coaching for 10th standard (grade) students who will be required to take the Secondary School Leaving Certificate exam given at the end of February and the beginning of March 2011. Coaching classes will be held every Saturday and Sunday for 5-6 hours until the exam date. Participating students will be given free notebooks and pencils, plus we will have available special coaching books and texts and other materials as well as practice exams that can be taken on the required paper using special fountain ink pens. All students in the 10th standard are invited to attend. Mr. Gnanasekharan is the teacher conducting the class with C. John Degler also present at the inauguration. For our first class we had six students present but expect more tomorrow and in the future as the word gets out and also as the weather improves as today we are having heavy monsoon rains making transportation difficult.

Teacher Gnanasekaran and materials to be used in the S.S.L.C. Coaching classes.

If the free coaching program proves to be a success, increasing the pass rate for weak students and getting top scores for strong students, we hope to expand to other village areas in the 2011-12 school year and also include 12th standard exam preparation.

Students who score high marks in the S.S.L.C., but who are financially unable to attend a school with standards commensurate with their abilities and potential, may be able to secure a scholarship for tuition expenses from the Malar Trust, along with room and board at one of the Malar’s hostels if their chosen school is distant from their home.

Tour of Amapettai and Melaiyuur villages with Thiruporuur District Official

Amapettai Village Elementary School. On the right are VijayLakshmi Krishnan, Union Panchayat Leader and C. John Degler of SAVE-INTL

On November 1, 2010  “Sonny” S.V. Saravanan of TVO and I were invited to the office of the Union Panchayat Chairwomen of Thiruporuur District, Vijay Lakshmi Krishnan to accompany her on a tour of two middle schools in two of the 51 Panchayats(or Institutional Democratic Village Governments) under her jurisdiction, which includes over 51 Panchayats, or institutional grass level democratic village governmental units.

Riding in her District car from Tiruporuur towards Sembakkam and then right,  we were accompanied by several of her staff. Our first stop was the Nellikuppam Panchayat, Amapettai village. Here are a few photos of the Village’s defunct community center and the newly refurbished Vinayagar Temple, plus some typical housing.

Front view of the Amapettai Community Center
Side view of Amapettai Community Center

It is in imminent danger of collapse as the walls were originally made using clay- sand rather than cement.

Because of the danger posed by this structure it is slated for demolition but VijayLakshmi Krishnan conveyed the community’s desire that it be replaced and suggested that SAVE-INTL and its partner TVO might be able to design and construct a replacement building.  Presently the cost of a 25ft X 15 Ft (8m X 4.5m) building of reinforced concrete with a cement sheet roof is approximately $4500 – add a flat concrete roof with a stair access and it is $2000 more. Donors are invited to contribute to this future project.

Adjacent to the defunct community center is a temple to the God Ganepati sometimes known as Ganesh or Vinayakar.

Selva Vinayaker Temple of Amapettai Village

Note the contrast in the condition of the two structures.

After examining the damaged Community Center the entourage proceeded to the Amapettai Government Elementary School, passing some typical village housing

 

Typical housing found in Amapettai Village

At the elementary school we were surprised to be greeted by Mr. Ayappan, teacher in charge, who has “moonlighted” for TVO and SAVE-INTL as an after-school “Tuition” Teacher during the evening in nearby Mullipakkam Village.  Amapettai is very lucky to have Mr. Ayappan working for them as he is one of our best and most dedicated teachers with a strong flare and dedication for teaching basic spoken English.

We then proceeded to the adjacent Melaiyuur Panchayat Village School, grades 1-8, which lacks any toilet facilities for the 200 6-14 year old boys and girls who attend. SAVE-INTL intends to remedy this glaring lack later this year as we have at Amuur Village Public School, whose damaged toilet facility remodeling is currently  underway and progressing nicely.The original toilet facility, pictured below, was originally constructed with its septic tank on property owned by the Church of South India (CSI). When this error was discovered, the septic tank was demolished by the CSI, rendering the Melaiyuur School Toilet facility completely unusable. Presently the stalls are blocked with thornbushes (see photo below) and the structure is slated for demolition, as it is economically unfeasible to build an alternate septic tank.

Girls Attending the Melaiyuur Panchayat Public School
Girls Attending the Melaiyuur Panchayat Public School
Unusable Melaiyuur Public School Toilet Facilities
Unusable Melaiyuur Public School Toilet Facility