How CDSA helps...
Led by Chandra Babu, this project was established in 2006 at Idinjar, a Dalit and tribal village over two hours by car to the north of Nedumangad in the forested foothills of the Western Ghats. A beautiful, but isolated tribal area, where some families live in reservations.
This is a place of great need. It
is a marginalised area in every way. Government services are lacking and most
workers are forestry or agricultural coolies (day labourers).
The area lacks quality education and health care facilites.
Initially housed in dilapidated rented buildings we raised £54,000 for a purpose built Community Centre, inaugurated in January 2014. Our new centre has a kitchen and provides piped water and clean toilets.
A Rotary grant funded a computer.
To improve the quality of existing education we provide tuition classes before and after school daily and all day Saturday.
We have six teachers and a field worker, who liaise with the families in the community. In the school year 2015/16 there are 85 term time students and 105 on the Vacation Coaching Programme. The age group of the children is 6 years to 16 years of age and 60% to 65% are girls.
The State School leaving Certificate results below (for the local Higher Secondary School) show the dramatic increase in the pass rate commensurate with the start of our tuition groups in 2006:
A 6 week summer Vacation Coaching Programme is run. The main objectives - language, literacy, maths skills and personal development. Social work participation is included as well more light hearted activities. Daily newspapers enable the students to study current affairs, their families have no tradition of reading. State schools teach by rote. The coaching aims to get children to look, think, enquire.
2015's assignments - resource mapping of roads, agriculture, schools, water, wells, rivers; studies of the tribal community; local herbal plants; their medical use; rallies on environmental protection and water contamination; newsletter production. 2014 saw an Empowerment of Women project and dental camp.
We have established a community health resource centre, which in Chandra's words:
"Provides minimum health service facilities to the villagers and develops health related awareness, especially among women and children."
The key to this is our full time health worker who gives immediate first aid, organises and runs health awareness classes and identifies people who need to receive a doctor's attention. The nurse dispenses medication and organises precautions against fever and epidemics.
The doctor attends the centre regularly to diagnose and treat patients, and if necessary, refer them to hospital. The health worker and nurse monitor the patients and their medication regimes.
A small tailoring unit on the ground floor is both a training and income generating facility for women.
In the 'Aims of CDSA' Chandra Babu says:
"Vacation coaching includes leadership, communication, motivation, life skills, problem solving to bring out the latent potentialities of the girls children. Girls are enabled to find job oriented professional courses outside the village and state by themselves. Previously none of the girl students even dreamed such an opportunity.
The more important aspect is the project is orienting the students especially girls that there is a world at the opposite side of the hills, a world of knowledge, skills, information and opportunities. The project is really intended to strengthen their wings further to cross the hills."
Jency Raju was illiterate when she
joined one of our early tuition programmes.
She became literate in English as well as
Malayalam and went on to score the highest
marks in her state school leaving exams.
funded her through College and she now works
for an American Health Insurance company
doing medical transcription.