Field Visit to Kollihills January 25-27, 2019
The Kollihills (Box 1 for landscapes of the hills) are a really beautiful place, full of varied and enjoyable landscapes. Every visit the Team makes brings some new perspective on the landscapes. There are indeed so many places that show up narratives that are an unspoken pledge to the visitor to present factually accurate account of themselves, in a deeper and sometimes in an entertaining way.
As the Team travelled down to Paravaaru hamlet of Ariyur Nadu for a meeting with the people, the people of the villages around were engaged in paddy transplantation work. The entire Paravaaru valley was very active, with farmers and labourers plucking the seedlings and women transplanting them in the fields prepared for it. Elsewhere some workers were involved in ploughing, harrowing and levelling; further away some others were involved in basal dressing. The valley looked a beehive of activities, keeping people seriously engaged in their work.
On reaching Paravaaru, the Team found people, men and women, boys and girls, gathered around a community hall for a feast after an engagement. Men were eating and some men and women were serving. One of them even served liquor tin plastic tumblers to the guests at the eating tables. Near the temple, some youth and children were playing volley ball even as some men and women engaged in cooking for the guests. There was celebration in the air and animated conversations among the guests filled the air.
After spending a few minutes talking to the guests of the occasion, the Team moved away to meet with the women of the self-help group that goes by the name Thamarai. The Team had a very useful discussion with a small number of women. The President (Ms. Yogalakshmi) and Secretary (Ms. Chitra) of the SHG asked for a coffee pulper which could be used for generating income for the households of the SHG. The women suggested that the pulper could be hired out to people in their as well as neighbouring hamlets during the season to make some income for the group.
As the discussion was still on about what development activities we could arrange for, Mr. Rajagopal of Paravaaru showed interest in mushroom cultivation (the hills are a veritable haven for several edible wild varieties of mushroom) and offered to gather a few people from about the hamlet for a training session.
About lunch time, the Team moved to Thegavoipatti and met with three women. In the discussion about what could possibly provide them sustainable livelihood as well as other members of the SHG, they hit upon the idea of a flour mill (rice, wheat, ragi, millets), which could be similarly used to make some good income for the SHG households. They further said that the members could take turn to operate and maintain the mill, if the mill could be set up. In the end they promise to discuss the project with the other members of the SHG and get back to the Team through our local support Mr. Prakasam.
The Team then moved to Kulivalavu, by about 2.30 pm, and met with Ms. Vanitha of Ilamthalir (Tender Leaves) SHG and her husband Mr. Nehru who is employed at the taluk e-service centre. Ms. Vanitha elaborated on her accountant work with the Pudhu Vazhvu (New Life) programme of development for several months and was involved in a scheme known as Amudhasurabi (literally, a bowl of unending supply of food). It was a scheme of development credit to the women’s SHGs of the Kollihills. The loans with a 40 percent subsidy involved various amounts of credit: Rupees 20,000 as initial credit, followed by Rupees 40,000 on clearing the initial loan without default and finally Rupees 50,000, for generating income for the livelihood of the member-households. She was also involved in a subsidy scheme for unemployed people of the Kollihills under the same programme of development. Mr. Nehru, the spouse of Ms. Vanitha, is employed at the e-seva maiyam (e-service centre) at Semmedu, the Kollihills’ administrative headquarters. He narrated his work at the e-service centre and a slew of services the centre offers to the people of the Kollihills.
In the evening, the Team visited several families in the hamlets to get to know what they would prefer to do for sustainable livelihoods, working in non-agricultural occupations, if they wished to make a decent living. The individual and groups discussions centred round the resources they could wield and be happily engaged.
The next day, January 27, 2019 Sunday, the team travelled the ups and downs of the Hills to acquire an appreciation of the landscapes and the agriculture. The visit was very rewarding, as the Team stopped at several interior villages to have informal discussions with the people, especially women and girls and men and boys of the villages to listen to and understand about their varied and practical ideas of development they think and care about.
Welcome to our new blog. We've teamed up with our colleague in India, Thangavelu Vasantha Kumaran, to publish updates on his humanitarian work in southern India. Updates will first be published in our newsletter, followed by more detailed updates here on our blog, for those who want to learn a little bit more!