2011 Cover Story

Reason to Smile

Ranjini along with her friend during child message collection at Kolathumedu village. Ranjini during Photo collection session
Child Message Collection from Kolathunedu Village of Thiruvallur District
Children participating in the drawing competition during summer camp

ITWWS is a community based organisation which promotes alternative values among the Irula community through development programme. It is building the capacities and promoting alternative values among the most marginalized destitute community through rights education. One of the main objectives of the organisation is to impart education to the Irula children. Through our work on literacy we have to be increased up to 100%. The Irula percentage of education is very poor due to the nomadic nature of the people and their search for the employment. ITWWS started implementing the project with the support of Action Aid International. The main aim of the project is to bringing social change among the most marginalized and poor Irula community on their overall empowerment. Special focus is being adopted on children’s rights and their participation. Along with making arrangements to enroll children in the schools, 20 learning centers are helpful in mainstreaming children and to reduce the dropouts from schools. “Coming to learning centre everyday is a fun” said Ranjini of Kolathumedu Village.

The project is being implemented through the child sponsorship programme. This time we have collected the messages from 474 children belongs to 49 villages of Kanchepuram, Villupuram, Cuddalore and Tiruvallur Districts of Tamil Nadu State. The messages were collected by asking various questions like their routine works, whole day in school, how they are spending the time during the holidays, how they are helping their parents. All the children were interestingly involved by answering and painted their drawing neatly. This was an improvement that the Irula children to get better to answer for the questions and give varieties of paintings. It was a great fun for the Irula children to sketch beautiful pictures and coloring them by using colorful paints.

News Story

Spawning success stories of Irula Women in Animal Husbandry

Kanaga (37), one of the member of Kanniyamman Magalir Milk Producers Cooperative Society supplying milk to Avin.

This is probably the first attempt to bring Irula Women in a certain social Lime light !

The Irula communities face extreme poverty with occupations and livelihoods being limited and a high percentage being unemployed. This is because many Irulas are illiterate and uneducated, and face constant discrimination. As the majority of Irulas rely on irregular and unstable work such as wood cutting, back water fishing, brick line works and unskilled agricultural labour, the prospects of personal and financial security and well-being remain unviable.

Providing an alternative livelihood for Irula tribe is one of the major area in the interventions of ITWWS in this year. ITWWS realize that the traditional livelihood alone will not make great changes in the lives of Irula tribe in terms of attaining economical status. In order to adopt alternative livelihood options for Irula women, ITWWS organized two levels of awareness building program among 64 Irula women through participatory method in the month of September 2010. Mr.Sudhakar, AGM, NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), Kancheepuram has been felicitated the program by explaining about various government schemes to involve in income generation activities, which are suitable for them. Training was also imparted to the Irula Women regarding cattle rearing, hygienic milk collection as well as on leadership. Mr Sethu Pandian, the District Registrar, Avin, Kanchipuram, participated in the awareness program and he extended his support by sensitize them to involve in this activity and he assured on marketing of milk.

The awareness program inspired 19 Irula women of Senneri and Orathur villages from Kancheepuram District to form Joint Liability Groups (JLGs). There were four JLGs have been formed and all these four groups have opened an account in Senneri Cooperative Bank and registered themselves as Joint Liability Groups and started doing savings. Subsequently they have been applied for loan to purchase Cow to establish milk producing society at their own. With the help of AGM NABARD the subsidiary loan total amount of Rs 7,60.000,and Rs 40,000 each was sanctioned from Rural dairy forming scheme for 19 Irula women to purchase of Milk Cow.

The branch manager Cooperative Bank of Periyaputheri Branch distributed the loan amount of Rs.20,000/- each as first installment in the presence of Mr Muthukrishnan, The District Coordinator, Cooperative Banks, Kanchipuram, and Mr.K.K.Rajendran The Chief Executive Officer of ITWWS. Totally 19 members have received the first installment of Rs.3, 80,000/- to buy cows. The second installment will be released after 6 months of the first installment.

With the support of ITWWS and Action Aid they have decided to register themselves as the Milk Producers Cooperative Society. ITWWS took a lot of initiative by encouraging them to form Kanniyamman Magalir Milk Producers Cooperative Society. Mr Sethu Pandian, the District Registrar, Avin, Kanchipuram, has been personally interacted with these Irula women and ensured his regular marketing support in the program which was organized in Senneri village. All the animals are insured in United india Insurance Co.Ltd. They achieved the economical status by the collective effort of ITWWS, Action Aid, NABARD and AVIN.

“It’s not a change in our life, it’s a Magic”

Vasantha (32) getting ready to find her bread through her cow

Vasantha (32) residing at Senneri village in Kanchepuram district. Her husband Shakthi (34) working as Gardener in Nursery. She has got one daughter Lalitha (14) studying 10th standard, two sons Purushothaman (7) Siva (5) studying 6th and 7th standard respectively. She had attended the awareness program organised in ITWWS at Thandarai on Alternative Livelihood on 5th September 2010. She was highly motivated and inspired by the speech given by the officials; she started Joint Liability Group in her village with her likeminded friends Hemavathi, Malliga, and Jaya. She has received bank loan Rs.20000/- as first installment for buying cow. She bought a new cow and started to market milk to AVIN. Now She is earning Rs. 1100/- per week. She said “I am very happy to start milk society for Irulas. It’s our dream and it comes true for us. Now I am able to support my family financially achieved economical as well as social status in my family and in my village too. I am also proud to be the president of the Kanniyamma Magalir Milk Producers Cooperative Society. And it’s not a change in our life, it’s a Magic”.

We were a servant of Land lords, who give rejected foods to rare their cows

Now we are the owner of the Cow “Dreams are becoming True” by this intervention. Whole life our whole family will be gratitude to Action Aid and ITWWS.

One Day in My Life

“My best day!”

Anitha (12) drawing rangoli in front of her house at Mappedu village

My name is Anitha; I am 12 years old studying in seventh standard. I am happy to share my daily activities with you all. Morning at 7 o’clock I wake up and do my morning routine. I play for half an hour and then study for one hour. Then I will get ready and start to school. I go to school by bus; it is around four and a half kilometers away from home. The frequency of bus is very less. After reaching school I will meet all my friends and say hai to them. Class starts at 9.30 am and end for break at 11.30 am. During the break time I play with my friends, eat some snacks and will be back to class. During lunch break I eat with my friends; share our food each other. Then I play with my friends for the rest of the time. Afternoon class starts at 1.30 pm. My favorite subject is Maths; because do not have to study more like other subjects and also we can score high marks. I reach home in the evening. I will fresh up and eat some snacks; will play for some time with my friends. I will go to Learning center (Tuition Center) which was supported by action aid, do my home works and study for the next day’s test. Because my home is very small there is no separate place to study. The learning center provides me an environment that makes me comfortable in studying. After reaching home, assist my mother in preparing our dinner. I love to eat my dinner along with my family members. After finishing my dinner I will watch Tv programs with my brother and sister and then go to bed at 10 o’clock.

Facts & Figures

Changing Lives

  • 45 families from Senneri and Masima Nagar Villages got electricity connection last year.
  • 113 people from Anumandhapuram and Agaramthen villages received Community Certificate.
  • 4 Joint Liability Groups have been formed in Senneri and Orathur villages. They have received 7, 60,000/- loan with subsidy from government to do activity.
  • 11 families from Chetti Punniuam and Anumanthapuram have got houses through government scheme in the last year with the support of Action Aid and ITWWS.
  • 22 families of Sathankuppam village were helped to get land and land patta by the work of Action aid and ITWWS in last year.
  • 5 women from Arungundram, Kottamedu, Pandur, Ozhalur and Manamai villages have received Maternity Benefit support of Rs.6000/- each.
Community Life (Cultural life of the Community)

Aadi Festival (Food for Thought)

Aadi festival celebration at Pandur village.
The traditional food “Koozhu” made ready to serve.
The Irula tribe from Pandur village having the blessed food “Koozhu”.

The ‘Aadi’ is one of the Tamil calendar months usually occurring between June and July. There are two Tamil months which are very sacred in Tamil Culture “Margazhi” and “Aadi”, because during these months there will be a lot of rituals and worships take place. The Irula Tribal has a unique culture and tradition in worshiping their goddess. During the month of Aadi they use to worship their goddess “Kanniyamma” with “Koozhu”. In any celebration or function food will be the most important element. Food is not just a “food” which takes out our hungry; Food is evidence for one’s own custom, culture, prestige, pride and more than that food is treated as equal to god in Tamil Culture. “Koozhu” is a kind of food, prepared during the Aadi festival and served to all the members in the family and village. They carry the statue of goddess Kanniyamma to all the houses in the village. There will be a lot of celebrations and the traditional songs will be played.

“Now I am able to pursue my studies without any hindrance”

M.Thenmozhi (16) of Thottithoppu village studying.

M. Thenmozhi (16) is studying D.N.A. (Diploma in Nursing Assistant) in a nearby Paramedical Institute in her village Thottithoppu, situated in the Cuddalore district of Tamilnadu. Her father works as an agriculture laborer in the nearby fields and earn Rs.75/= per day. Her mother also works as an agriculture laborer. She has 2 younger brothers and 2 younger sisters who are all studying in the nearby Government school. She joined this course after completing 10th standard. It is a 2 year course. She is now studying in the second year. After completing this course she wants to join the hospital in Cuddalore as a trainee nurse. ITWWS, through the support of Action aid had given her a scholarship assistance of Rs.2000/= in the year 2010 which enabled her to pay the fees and continue her studies in the second year. She said “My ambition in life after completing the course is to serve the sick and the poor people in my village. Thank you so much for your support”. She added “I wanted to achieve something high to inspire my friends out there in my village”

Kathavarayan (15) of Sandhaimedu village learning the traditional instrument called “Dollkattai”.

Drama is a powerful means of social communication, a great tool for advocacy that engages people in understanding the children’s life stories and the kind of right violation that they face on a regular basis. Drama overcomes literacy barriers also enabling children to share experience and ideas. Furthermore through preparing dramas children are able to reflect upon their experiences, analyze their situation and understand more about their own behavior and the way their life travels. Street theatre has been an integral part of education. In this street theatre training 40 Irula children participated. This program helped the Irula Children to recognize and realize their potential abilities. This open’s up children’s perspective and teaches them to see new possibilities that would help them to understand their surroundings better. It develops skills in children to deal with life situations, also makes children confident and skilled communicators. Street theatre is a useful medium to spread awareness among people on various rights as well as right violations. Also the Children were given training on Tamil Fold dances like Oyilattam, Kolattam, Kummiyattam and karagam.

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