2012 Cover Story

“I feel up and proud of my update photo”

“My name is Sandhya. I am 11 years old and studying in class 6. I am living in Kothimangalam village. I would like to tell you about the photo session we had this year for our update photo. It was a happy experience for me. This is the second update photo we sent to sponsor. Also I am glad to receive a copy of my photo. My sister Priya (14) told me that I am looking beautiful in photo.

Many of my friends in the learning centre which is formed by Action Aid and ITWWS also received their photographs. The day we received the photos we have shared our joyful experience with our learning centre teacher Amala. I joined the learning centre 2 years back and I learned so many things after joining to the learning centre like reading, singing, dancing and learnt new games. I feel very proud of my update photo.”

Sandhya says “I love my photo, thanks to ActionAid for making us happy”


Access to entitlements are ensured through community certificate

Irula Tibals are one among primitive tribe in Tamil Nadu. Even though there was no religion and caste in tribal community they suffer a lot in these circumstances. Since India is a caste based society the welfare states are providing services to the poor by identifying their caste which is scheduled by the government. To avail all the welfare services of the government an individual must produce a document which shows their caste identification. Hence the community certificate is the major proof of caste identity. In Tamil Nadu we have plenty of job reservations, reservation in educational institution for tribals, scholarships and lot welfare schemes. They can access to all these benefits only if they have the community certificate. “I have completed my 10th standard in the year 1990 and registered myself in employment exchange but still I dint get any job because of not producing the community certificate” says Chitra (35) from Chettipunniyam village. Why it is difficult to get the community certificates? There are few reasons which makes the thing difficult is like for other caste and communities there is no much investigation procedures whereas there is a long procedure of identifying the tribals. The frequent change of government officials also is one of the major causes for the delay in issuing community certificate. Chitra said “We struggled for 8 years to get the community certificate. We do not have proper documents for proof like address, ration card and many”. In this situation ActionAid and ITWWS took lot of initiatives to get the community certificate. Firstly they organized the community to get the proper documents for proof and organized them to raise their voices against the unfairness of government. The community has done many demonstrations, dharnas and rallies to demand for their rights. Slowly they were able to get the community certificates. During last year they have decided to form Community Core Groups in all the Irula villages to take up the initiatives to get community certificate. Chitra is one of such leader from the community who is able to achieve. “With the help of Action Aid and ITWWS we got the community certificates. Both my daughters Divya Priya (14) and Kavya Priya (13) studying in 10th and 9th standard respectively didn’t get any government scholarship yet. My husband didn’t get the government job even after completing his 12th standard, me also applied for it but didn’t get it because of community certificate. But now both my daughters have got the community certificate and I am sure that I will make them get government job after completing their education. It is a great achievement for us” says Chitra.

Like Chitra many women took lead in getting this community certificate in Irula villages. The result of all the effort put by the women leaders we were able get 257 community certificates last year.

Happy smiling mother Chitra with her daughters Kavyapriya and Divyapriya with the community certificates.


“My day is full of joy”

“My name is Pavithra (14) completed my high school this year and I am living in Chenneri. I got one younger brother Umapathi (13) and one younger sister Mohanavalli (11); I am the first child in the family. My mother Jaya (35) is working as a domestic worker. I lost my father when I was young; even though I never felt his absence because my mother played both the roles. My mom struggled a lot to send us to school. She is part of the Self help group in which they make handicraft products. Even when we don’t have food to eat, my mom didn’t stops us to attend school. Thanks to ActionAid and ITWWS for building such a great confidence in my mom.

I used to get up at 5.30 in the morning. My day starts with a cup of Ragi drink. Then I help my mother in doing household works like bringing water from public well and I assist my mom in cooking. I have to travel 12 Kms to reach my school; usually I travel by bus. My school time is between 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. We all have lunch in school; we are having good meals for our lunch. After school hours I fully concentrate on my studies my mom also did not disturb me while I am studying. I study in the evenings at learning centre which was supported by ActionAid ITWWS. Also I help my sister to study. I am going to choose computer science in my higher secondary class and I want to become a computer engineer”

Pavithra is happy in helping her mother in doing household works and happy to support her sister in studies”.


Facts & Figures

Caption: Manjula (28) of Salur village says “We are very happy to have a separate Anganwadi Centre for our village. Before this we had to walk 1 Km to send our children to anganwadi but now we have the centre at our doorstep and it is a great achievement. Thanks to ActionAid and ITWWS for supporting us to fight for our rights”.

Healthcare is in our doorstep

  • The integrated child development scheme was introduced in India in 1975 and the major objective of the program is to improve the nutritional and health care to the children in the age group of 0-6.
  • In Tamil Nadu the ICDS scheme is concentrating on 1.98% schedule tribe children between the age group 0-6.
  • These anganwadi centers are providing supplementary nutrition to the children, immunization, regular health check-ups, pre-school and non formal education, prenatal and postnatal care for women.
  • The anganwadi centers where build in the main village and our Irula families who are living in the outskirts of the village were not able to access the anganwadi centers. After the regular advocacy and lobby works initiated by ActionAid we are able to get 8 Anganwadi centers exclusively for the Irula Children during last year and few Irula women got jobs in the same. The 8 anganwadi centers benefiting 174 Irula children and 26 pregnant Irula women.
  • Manjula (28) a happy mother from Salur village says “My husband is an agricultural labour and he get very less job opportunity. We were not able to provide proper health care and nutritious food for our children. Now my daughter is regularly attending classes in the Anganwadi centre and getting good nutritious food every day”.
Photo 5: Children enjoying a meal at Anganwadi Centre

Community Life

“Singing is part of our life and our life is full of songs”

Irula Tribal are famous for not only catching snakes also they are well-known for their traditional songs. Mostly they sing song about their goddess kanniyamma and they will sing duet songs, which is very close to their heart. During the olden days their only entertainment was singing in the evenings. In every celebration in their family and village there will be team singing their traditional songs. From birth to death for every occasion they have several songs.

“But now it decreasing” says Kanaga one of the great singer in the Irula community. Further she continues “Now-a-days the culture has been changed due to various reasons. The younger generation is not showing much interest on singing their traditional songs”.

In order preserve the traditional knowledge of Irulas and to transfer this unique culture to the next generation ActionAid and ITWWS Involved in documenting the traditional songs of Irulas in CD format so that it can be preserved at the same time the younger generation adopts it and learn quickly.

“Thanks to ActionAid and ITWWS for doing such a wonderful favor to the Irula Community because singing is our life and our life is full of songs” Said Kanaga. Last year we have been able to release an audio CD of Irular Parambariya Padalgal (The traditional songs of Irulas) which was written, composed and sung by Irula people. We are very happy to share this with you and thank you so much for your support.

Photo 6: Kanaga and Bhavani are singing their traditional song during a festival in their village.

Children’s Corner

Children are treated as equal citizens

Ramu is one of the strongest leaders in the child rights groups in our working area. He is representing our child rights groups to a state level federation for children. Here he wants to share about his experience in fighting for good drinking water to their village. Let’s hear from Ramu “Hello! I am Ramu, 13 years old and I am living in Poonchery village. It is near Mamallapuram, which is one of the famous historical cities in Tamil Nadu. Around 60 families are living in my village. Good drinking water facility was not available and also it is very salty water, since the village is situated just 1 Km away from sea shore. Very few water taps were given, which is not sufficient enough for 60 families. Otherwise we had walked 1 Km to get good drinking water. In this situation we discussed this issue in our child rights group and decided to give petition to the Panchayat president. Around 35 children we went to panchayat office during an official meeting. We met the panchayat representatives and gave our demands. Immediately after a month we got water taps in the ratio of 1 tap for 4 families. Now everyone is having access to good drinking water. Thanks to ActionAid and ITWWS for supporting us to access our rights. It was possible only because of the staff of ITWWS who derive us in right path to approach the panchayat representatives; because before this many time adults in our village approached them and failed”. We thank you on behalf of the children in our working areas.

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