Category Archives: Poonjeri village

Disease Awareness Camp in Anjeneya village

Malar Trust organizes a disease awareness camp in the Irular village of Poonjeri Anjeneya

A meeting with the eight resident families, 32 people between adults and children, was held on February 9th in the small Irula village of Anjeneya in Poonjeri.

The purpose of the meeting was to develop greater awareness of the risks associated with neglected diseases, raise awareness of self-care and encourage the community to go to the hospital or ask for help in case of need, all things very far from the mentality of the Irula people.

S. Valiammal

The occasion occurred following the death of Valliammal, a young woman who left two small girls, due to tuberculosis.

The woman has been probably ill for a long time in general indifference, including that of her husband and neighbors.

Unfortunately, the Association became aware of this too late, when there was nothing more to be done: the only consolation is to have made easier the last few weeks of her life, in which we gave her all the attention and care we could.

In the days following the meeting, and thanks to this, we were therefore able to take Valliammal daughters to the hospital and verify that even if very undernourished and having lived for months in contact with the sick mother, they had not been infected by the disease.

We also took the opportunity to bring all the other children of the village to the hospital for a check-up and to vaccinate them against the most serious diseases according to a government scheme that does exist, even if neglected.

During the meeting were also illustrated the various plans of the Indian government in support of tribal populations: economic support plans, for which it serve however to have a bank account; government job employent schemes, for which it serves however a tenth grade diploma; possibility to get rice and basic foods at controlled prices, which however include the possession of personal documents that only few possess… All these things, even these, very far from the irula mentality.

A new program was immediately launched to help the community to obtain the necessary documents to gain access to state aid

Daytime care for Poonjeri orphan children

Malar Trust helps orphan children from the Poonjeri Irula community: a new day care project started

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The children taking part to the project

Last February, after a couple of Italian volunteers spent a few weeks in the Poonjeri Irula community an anomaly caught our attention: there was a group of children wandering through the village streets during the day, apparently without attending school and unsupervised by adults. The investigations unveiled a critical situation. Coincidence has it that within the timeframe of a couple of months, a number of children aged two to thirteen lost one or both parents, leaving them in a state of semi-abandonment.

After this discovery, Malar Trust India staff organized a meeting with the community. This resulted in the decision to launch a project similar to the day care center Panjartheerthi: a meeting point where an assistant welcomes the children in the morning, checks that they are clean and have school uniforms in order, prepares breakfast and sends them off to school.

Malar Trust has rented a small room with kitchen and hired a second shift teacher from the kindergarten Malar Trust has run for years as a chef and supervisor. A second woman in the village bathes the children and accompanies them to school.

The day care center for orphans of the Irular community of Poonjeri was inaugurated in February. This center welcomes about fifteen children with family problems plus two girls who have been granted access to the canteen even if coming from families with both parents on the advice of the pediatrician who reported symptoms of malnutrition.

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Children ready to go to school after breakfast

All the children received a backpack, exercise books, school uniforms and clothes. Since February, members have started to regularly attend school and even follow the Malar Trust afterschool program .

 

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Microcredit and recycling in Poonjeri Masima Nagar

Malar Trust helps a senior Masima Nagar citizen to start a waste collection business

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A senior citizen of Masima Nagar, a community in the Poonjeri village where Malar Trust India has its headquarters, asked for help in setting up an independent recyclable waste collection business. The man had already been collecting waste for a local business man: by foot, with a large sac on his shoulder, being paid little and on a day by day basis, he tried rounding off his salary by selling coconuts along the state highway.

Our friend met the Malar Trust India while its staff was bringing aid to his community during last year’s flood in November. He asked for information on the association and found out that it was possible to request interest-free loans to develop small businesses. From that moment on, he began planning how to start a business of his own to earn a better salary and therefore allow himself and his family to lead a more dignified life. After months of pondering he reached the conclusion that in order to earn enough by working alone he had to increase his daily waste collection: this meant that he needed some sort oftechnological “help”.

Today, one year later, his project has finally seen the light! With a 15000 rupees (about 200 euros) loan by Malar Trust, Pachaiyappan bought a bicycle with an attached cart thus becoming a real entrepreneur!

By using his vehicle, our friend can now collect waste from a much larger area in less time and without as much strain. He can load the cart with way more waste than he could possibly ever carry on his shoulders and then easily bring it to the collection and resale centers.

His daily tally of items collected on the roadsides and while going house to house mostly consists of plastic bottles, glass and scraps of iron. These are all recyclable materials which would only contribute to the filth and pollution already plaguing Indian villages if it weren’t for the daily and tiring work of humble, hardworking people like him who remove this waste from the streets and turn it into an income.

With his bicycle cart this man can now provide for his family of 6 children, some of whom are very young because even though he is over 60 years old, this is his second marriage and his wife is many years younger than him.

The 15000 rupees loan will be paid off without any interest in 30 monthly installments of 500 rupees each. This is a reasonable figure compared to the business monthly income (estimated at 4000 to 6000 rupees per month).

For once, economy and ecology really do go hand in hand!

 

A soup kitchen for the elderly of Poonjeri

DSC_0557Malar Trust helps the poorest elders of the Poonjer village: 20 free meals distributed each day.

Following the initiative brought forth by the Malar Trust India staff, Malar Trust launched in early December 2015 a daily soup kitchen for needy elderly of the village of Poonjeri in early November.

For some time now, the poorest elders of the community had asked the Indian association’s coordinator Mani G. Rupakanthan help for food. Action was taken by opening a soup kitchen: there are currently about 20 enrolled senior citizens, mostly women, widows without family support, some in poor health.

 

Meals are prepared in a small local restaurant that provides the typical Indian meal, a plate of rice with sambar and a side dish. The monthly cost is estimated at about 15,000 rupees.

This “catering service” is the work of a poor but smart Indian woman who makes a living for her family by cooking street food in a hut a few meters from the headquarters of Malar Trust India. The self-help group of Poonjeri women brought up her name to the association as an ideal collaborator for the canteen: by allowing her to take care of the food service we are actively helping one more person.

The free lunch is offered every day of the week on the Malar Trust India premises in Mettu Street in Poonjeri. The initial plan was to house the soup kitchen on the terrace of the center, but many older people have trouble walking up the stairs, so now the participants gather on the square in front of the office, sheltering under an old bus stop.

Poonjeri Mettu Street Tuition Center receives a free laptop

The teacher of the Cenetr receivs the laptop for our secretary Gaja

The teacher of the Center receiving the laptop for our secretary Gaja

We are continuing with our project to supply each Tuition Center with a laptop that teachers can use to introduce children to computers. Poonjeri is the sixth out of the eight Centers which now have a laptop, all of which have been donated from friends who bought a new one.

The Mettu Street is one of the four Poonjeri Centers welcoming children from the dalit area of the village. These are mainly younger children from first to fifth grade, even though occasional older children from the surrounding re still allowed in.

Suganya, one of our ex students, teaches here. She is a very poor girl whom we supported in her studies for three years with a scholarship. She is studying for a bachelor’s degree in business studies. She now attends the second year of the two year integration correspondence course to earn her.

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Students having their first lesson

Our Tuition Centers teach computer science (if we want to call it that, with a touch of optimism!) on Saturdays, the day of the week dedicated to recreational activities, game playing and creativity (singing, dancing, drawing). Teachers can however decide independently for their classes how much time to set apart for computer studies; this depends on their own experience levels, unfortunately often quite limited. But all these children have never even seen a computer in their lives and often don’t even know what one is, so for the time being our teachers’ knowledge is enough.

We are considering the possibility of planning a computer course for our teachers and a small computer school for our older students in the near future.

And please, if you have any used desktop computers or laptops to give away, please let us know!

MTI runs a new Tuition Center at Poonjeri Masima Nagar

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To the Tuition attend about 30 children

From the beginning of October MTI runs a new Tuition Center in the Irula Community of Poonjeri Masima Nagar.

The Tuition Center had been operating for years by a local association that for unknown reasons stopped funding the project and paying for the teacher salary. The place remained closed for months until the local community, a group of Irula families living in the neighborhood of Poonjeri, asked MTI to include their Center within its projects.

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Poonjeri, Masima Nagar Tuition Center

Masima Nagar so becomes our fourth Tuition Center in Poonjeri, after the two dalit Centers inTKM Street and Mettu Street and the Irula Education Center on the ECR but the small building is not enough to accommodate the over 30 children that attend, especially during the rainy season

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Paula and Frederik Paula Weerkamp attending the inauguration

At the inauguration, where two tourists attended, we distributed notebooks, pen and pencils. A new teacher has been appointed, she is the daughter of a woman that we already know, she received a small loan from us to develop her small business, 15.000 rupees that she used to buy a second hand weel cart to sell fruits and vegatables on the road.

About 30 Irula children will benefit from the project.