“I learnt about children’s rights and importance of education because I am a member of Child Rights Group formed by ITWWS and ActionAid in our village,” says Sathish who is eight and lives in Thiruvidandhai village. Sathish in class three and he almost left his studies to go for the job with his uncle working in a coconut farm. If it had not been for ITWWS staff’s advise and support, today Sathish would not be in school.

“I got help through the evening learning centre set up by ITWWS and now I no longer struggle with my studies. I have new hope now of doing well.”


ITWWS and ActionAid have been building the capacity and skills of tribal people through awareness programmes, leadership training and skills training (eg. Finance, enterprise and business planning), so that they can take up various activities to earn more income and also become more confident to asset their rights

In August, October and November 2009, we organized various training (leadership, accounting and business skills etc.) in which 94 Irula women took part. One of them, Mrs. Devi (31) if from Ottiyambakkam village.

“I am a member of the Maruthani Irula Self Group formed by ITWWS, she says. I take part in all activities and I received several trainings from ITWWS. I learnt about the banking system, the Panchayat (Local government) and other matter which are important to know. I learnt gender discrimination through ITWWS.

When my husband left his job from moulding company, we were in trouble due to loss of income. I have two daughters studying in standard 7th and 5th.

I decided that, with knowledge gained from ITWWS, I will start a moulding company of my own. I got a load of Rs.10, 000.00 from our SHG which is supported by ITWWS and hired two staffs and a small place. In the beginning I struggled, Then ITWWS gave me a loan of Rs. 25, 000.00 and things improved. Today I have six staff and we earn profit of Rs. 8, 000.00 per month. Now there is no problem to send my child to school.

I feel very proud because this is the first time an Irula woman has become proprietor of a company.

Now 15 more women like Devi has started their own business like goat rearing and running small shops.


Many Irula children drop out after 8th standard, especially girls, because of lack of awareness of the importance of higher studies and in the case of girls, because parents feel they should be married off.

ITWWS and ActionAid have been creating awareness among the community of the importance of continuing the studies of children. The 20 learning centers which are being run by ITWWS help in keeping track of education of the children. ITWWS staff also meets regularly with the Self Help Group members in all the villages to talk them about the importance of education. Last year 195 children were provided scholarships by ITWWS and ActionAid.

13 students have entered college (including 8 girls) and 6 will enter this year. 48 children are going to write their high school exams. Now the first generation learns are acquiring the power of education, only because of your support.


On January 16th Irula people celebrated the harvest festival called Kanumpongal in the forest. Although the festival is of Tamil people, the Irula celebrate it also, nut in a different, unique way. This is an important festival for the community. Previously their forefathers lived in the forest so the families gather and go together to the forest to celebrate.

In the forest they gather firewood and make a fire on which they cook what they catch like rat, rabbit, and porcupine. They have a cultural function with songs and dancing.

Mrs. Senthamarai (47) says, “Once a year we go the forest to celebrate kanumpongal. This time we got rabbit while hunting. All my relatives came from different villages. We all did worship to the god and ended the day with our traditional dance.”

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