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A new well for the village of Eachamballam

17.03.12 - fine lavori (9)

Eachamballam, the new well

Malar Trust donates a new well to the  Eachamballam village

To be honest the well existed already. The drilling and the purchase of the tank had already been made years ago by the Panjayat. Then, for some reason, work on it had stopped.  Pipes, the pump, the motor, and connection to electricity were all missing .

After our friend Kutti, who lives in Eachamballam, told us about this, we decided to step in and finish the job. 40 Eachamballam families  will benefit from the new well that is located in the courtyard of our after-school program.

Thanks to Giovanni of Malar Trust Italy for his active participation in the work and to our friends  Ezio and Marina who raised money for the implementation of the well

Eachamballam, the new well

from the left: Sekar (trustee), Giovanni (Malar Trust Italy), Kutti (activist), Mani Rupakanthan (managing trustee)

 

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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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.

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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.

Medical Camp in Peryar Nagar

medical-campFollowing the Dental Camp that was held a few weeks ago, the medical staff from the Chettinad Hospital in Kelambakkam, a pediatric hospital south of Chennai, held a Medical Camp in Peryar Nagar.

With the help of Raj, a friend who works in the hospital and the mind behind this Medicine Camp Day, two doctors (a pediatrician and a general practitioner) and four nurses spent the day in our center visiting 50 children and 30 adults coming mainly from the villages of Periyar Nagar and Ecchamballam.

Peryar-Nagar-Medical-camp-2015-3The camp was open to everyone, regardless of whether or not the children attended our day care or after school programs. The most common problems encountered were caused by the lack of vitamins, specifically of Vitamin A. Children who attend our centers were in better condition than others probably thanks to the daily nutritional supplements we have been administering for a couple of years in our kindergartens. Together with our contacts in India, we have already planned to increase the amount of fresh fruit in our younger children’s daily meals.

At the end of the doctor’s examination, biriyani rice and small prizes were this web given to all the children. To close off the day, one of our teachers organized a dance show.

Donation to the Manamathi public school

The Manamathy Government Primary School

The Manamathy Government Primary School

The Manamathi public school, attended by many children of the surrounding villages where we have our nurseries and after-school programs (Periyar Nagar, Kamaraj Nagar, Ecchamballam and Panjanthirthi), asked us a little help to buy some items and primary needs equipment that are not provided by the Government and that each school must therefore buy – if and when they have the money to do it!

Unfortunately our resources are not usually sufficient to fund the improvement of the basic equipment given to state run schools, but for many reasons this is a special case, and we have therefore decided to donate various everyday items that the students needed such as mats, baskets, dishes, glasses and water containers.

Some of the children of the school with the two teachers

Some of the children of the school with the two teachers

This is a small gesture that is first of all a way to maintain good relations with the teachers of a school attended by a large number of our children, but it also allows us to ask the school’s principal a special commitment to these children. Most of them come from backgrounds defined by difficult situations and have not had the chance to attend school on a regular basis in the past years, meaning that they often need to be tutored with special care in order to be integrated in the school system and improve their academic performance.

Malar Trust Students’ Motivation Camp

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Career Guidance Meeting – May 2nd, 2015

After our first experiment in 2014, we decided to organize another Motivation Camp for our afterschool students last week.

Motivation Camps are rather common in India; however, during these events, students listen to “experts” in the academic world such as school presidents and local politicians who will, for a small sum of money, go on an on for hours about how important and fun studying is, without giving any useful and practical information and without interacting with the students.

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Our managining trustee, Mani Rupakanthan, welcomming the Manamathi panjayath leader

During this event the Malar Trust staff gave an overview of all of the University’s fields of study, relating them to specific subjects learned in school. Moreover, all state sponsored financial aids available for underpriviledged students were illustrated. This is very important especially for the poorer families with which we work, given that they are often unaware of such aids.

Students who attended our Motivation Camp are both our 11th or 12th grade afterschool students who will need to decide within a couple of months on how and if to continue their studies as well as 8th to 11th graders. A few university students sponsored by Malar Trust grants also attended, talking about their experience and answering questions from the younger students.

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Even if this seems like a small, unimportant event, these kids have a great need for direction. Blind ambition and ignorance often lead parents to sink deep in debt in order to enroll medicore students in private colleges to study engineering. Students who hate math enroll in the academically demanding group 1 (math, physics, biology) high school in hope of gaining admission to engineering or medicine. All of this happens in complete ignorance of all the alternatives offered by the vast number of faculties of the Indian University.

Challenging new programme launched in Panjartheerthi

After eight months since we opened the Tuition Center with Save International, for Irula and Dalit children of Panjartheerthi, we now need  to improve children attendance at school: to convince the about 30 children to go to school regularly is the aim of this project.
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Group picture of Panjartheerthi Irula students

We recently met the Head Teacher of the local school and she is desperate to improve attendance. In order to keep the school open she needs at least 20 children but despite the 35 children enrolled this year (31 of which are Irula), there are only very few children at school when there is a government inspection. She says the children do not come school, often she goes to look for them around the village in the morning. She finds that the children are often not clean and are hungry, sometime away with their parent when they find jobs away from the village. Conditions in the village are very basic.

It is interesting that most of the children do come to the existing Tuition Center regularly, perhaps this is because of the daily snack we offer? What else we can offer to encourage better school attendance and improve the lives of these children and their families?

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Children having breakfast before going to school

We thought that if we offer a place where children can come in the morning, get washed, have clean school uniform and a good breakfast, this may help.  Obviously this service will be for the children who do really go to school.  We met with the families, parents and children and they agreed to try this service.

Luckily we soon found a small house to rent very near the Irula village, with a kitchen, bathroom, store room and a small terrace in front of the house where the children can sit and eat. We hired two young women from the same community, one to cook and the other will help the children to wash and dress, both will wash all the school uniforms.

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Children go to school after breakfast

On November 17th we started with 26 children attending the first day.  After two weeks the project is a great success.  The Head Teacher can hardly believe such a quick change to school attendance.

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The Tuition class in the afternoon

Also because the house is so close to the village we decided to use it to run the afternoon tuition session.  We hired a new teacher, Mrs Rajeshwari, and left the other teacher, Megala, to continue with the Dallit children at the other building. The Head teacher, cook, other helper and tuition teacher will work together as a team to provide the service and check the attendance at breakfast and afternoon tuition also match with the daily attendance at school.  Our hope is that this service for school children will greatly improve the lives of the families in the Irula community and help them continue to develop new opportunities.

 

Free dental check-up for over 140 children

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11 doctors visited 140 children in Peryar Nagar

A different Sunday for the small Irula village of Peryar Nagar, where Malar Trust has been running a balwadi and a Tuition Center since 2011: a Dental Camp was held yesterday in cooperation with the Karpaga Vinayaga Institute of Dental Science. The event was organized with the help of Sowmiya, one of our scholarship students, now completing her fifth and final year in Dental Science at the same Vinayaga Institute.

During a visit to our office a few weeks ago, Sowmiya told us that the Vinayaga College organizes free dental camps in rural villages in the outskirts of Chengalpattu, where the college is based. A special department of Public Health Dentistry inside the college runs over 200 Camps every year to follow the rules of the Dental Council of India. So we asked Sowmiya to talk to the college’s officials and do her best to include our villages in the college scheme.

Thanks to her help, and to the cooperation of the college management, the camp has been organized in a very short time and yesterday, at 9 a.m. a big white van, fully equipped for dental treatments and with 11 doctors on board, landed in the small playground in front of our Center.

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The 11 doctors from Vinayaga Institute with the staff of Malar Trust India in a nice group picture

At the same time Malar Trust India Managing Trustee G.Rupakanthan, the office manager D.Gajalakshmi and the area manager K.Kutti were joining the group of doctors to manage and coordinate the event.

Over 140 children attended the camp, coming from the four Centers we run in the surroundings of Manamathi, in the villages of Peryar Nagar, Eachamballam, Kamaraj Nagar and Panjartheerthi.

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At the beginning of the day, the doctors gave a lecture to the children on issues as how to brush the teeth, mouth and teeth diseases, nutrition and oral health care and distributed pamphlets. In India 90% of the people have dental problems. After this, 113 children (and some parents) received some treatment: mostly dental cleaning plus some extraction and some caries filling with paste. Some of the children with major problems have been asked to go for further treatment at the clinic inside the college, where cheap fees are offered to villagers.

A short speech has also been organized at the presence of Manamathi Panjayath President Mrs Priya Srinivasan on the importance of education and health care, especially among the new generations that really have the opportunity to change the lives of themselves and their families. Mr Rupakanthan also spoke about Malar Trust India activities at village level.

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6 pm, doctors leave the Camp. Thank you everybody

Finally, at the end of the day, the college staff left the village. Everybody was tired but happy: Sowmiya told us the doctors were impressed by the good organization of the day and good behaviour of the children (and by the excellent food prepared by our balwadi cook!)

 

Our new website has been launched!

We are happy to show our new website constructed with the help of Malar Trust Italy.

In the pages, you will find a short presentation of all our activities while in the Blog area you will find updates on the most recent news from India.

Please let us have your comments to make our website more usefull for you!

Tuition school for Irula children of Panjartheerthi

No interest, poor attendance at school and very low marks is the performance of the about 30 Irula kids attending the governmement primary school of Panjartheerthi and secondary school of Manamathi.

Panjartheerthi is a very small village near Manamathi, very isolated, no shops, no public transport facilities and no proper road connecting the village to the outside world.

In the village there is a small government primary school and a balwadi but the most of kids now attend the Manamathi private English Medium that offer school bus facilities at reasonable price. For the others, if they wish to continue to go to school after 5th class, they are forced to walk 5 kilometers to the Manamathi secondary school unless the family can affor a bycicle.

The government primary school was about to close three years ago, as the number of chldren was not enough to justify the cost of a teacher, when the local Comunist Party decided to offer a small plot of land to a bunch of Irula families rescued from slavery. Now are the children of these families to keep the primary school alive: 31 kids out of 35 are Irula. But is very difficult to convince these children to go to school regularly.

To offer the kids a little support, we decided to open a Tuition center for them. we found the place and the teacher and also organized a afternoon snack to every child that attend the Tuition.

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The Panjartheerthi Community Hall built by Save Int’l

The Tuition is run in collaboration with  the American Association Save Int’l that offered Malar Trust to share a place in the village Community Hall, where a Tuition school for Dalit children is already on going. Malar Trust will pay for one extra teacher and a daily snack to all the children (a total of about 50 between Irula and Dalit)