|I had the opportunity of meeting this group of students twice over the four weeks and was rather taken aback when one of them walked up to me and said, "Elita Ma'am!". He'd remembered my name!|
|Children at Manitham in Manamadurai, Tamil Nadu|
|Manitham's mentors at their weekly training meeting|
- Villages of those belonging to the marginalized communities existed on the periphery of the main village. Just like I’d seen it in rural Kolhapur during my student years. Just like it is everywhere else in the country – except that it never gets mentioned or spoken about. And we all know what happens when things get stopped being spoken about! They stop ceasing to be things we want to do something about!
- Even so, it was in these very same villages that enthused groups of students wowed us with their confidence, determination and aspirations. Asked what they wanted to be when they grow up, many of them mentioned district collector, police officer, teacher, doctor and engineer – probably influenced by what they have been observing from around them. But without the awareness of what it would take to assume those roles – be it awareness about opportunities they can avail of, the scholarships, the career pathways to getting there (all of which Manitham is also actively trying to plug) – it remains to be seen how enabling the circumstances themselves turn out to be. Because ‘reservations’ are just another ruse for vote-bank politics and to pit people against each other.
- Mentors, however, appear on the horizon as a beacon of light. As individuals who are currently pursuing their own higher education, they belong to the same village and offer the much required direction and inspiration to students who have no one else to truly look up to. From among the current lot of 18 mentors, there were a few who have studied at the CRC not too many years ago. This, coupled with the fact that they are going beyond what a generation prior to them had been able to aspire for is the much required ignition button for the next generation of learners. I'll let this next photo-story below do the rest of the talking -
- For the parents it has been a simple logic that their children shouldn’t have to put up with the same fate they have had to because either opportunities or awareness about them didn’t exist. And they are not a passive lot either. Parents in some of the communities have gone on to make pleas and if required, firm demands of their respective gram panchayats to make provision of a common physical space within the village where the students can study together.
Meet Maheshwari who is a mentor at Manitham's Child Resource Centre at the Periyaikotthai village in the Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu. Maheshwari's is a story that inspires. As a mentor she is responsible for the operationalization of the after school support program for close to 60 children who are at her centre. And she does this single handedly. . Seeing is believing I've worked with children and know them to be a more than a handful. But there was an ease with which Maheshwari managed her bunch. These kids were the most well disciplined I'd ever come across. Maheshwari's story is that owing to her socio-economic status, she wasn't able to study beyond Std. XI It was a chance she took when she applied to be a mentor. It wasn't long before the students' parents approached the municipal school's headmaster to have them hire her as a teacher at the government run school. . Why? Because as a CRC mentor she was helping the students improve their grades. Her educational qualification was a hindrance to the process. But the parents wouldn't have it any other way! Maheshwari today teaches Std. III students and also runs the CRC ...besides being a mother to a 3 year old. She's attributes this journey to her husband who's been supportive. It was heart warming to here from her that she's now readying to give her Std. XII exams! She doesn't know what the future holds but she knows she can begin to right a few things for herself, her family and her community. . Such is the power of determination and perseverance. Such are the stories of many who've struggled but don't give up! P.S.: I've spent 4 weeks volunteering my time at an NGO in Madurai. These are glimpses from interactions and insights I've had @thebetterindia #manamadurai #madurai #tamilnadu #india #ngo #nonprofit #notforprofit #volunteer #voluntourism #responsibletravel #bethechange #inspire #inspiration #childrights #betheforce #makeadifference #education #caste #_soi #storiesofindia #humansofindia #indiaphotosociety #igramming_india #instagood #instamood #instalike #instatravel #travelgram #whyiloiter #HaveFeetWillTravel
We got interesting perspectives from parents of students in every village we were able to visit in the Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu where Manitham works. Most of them were relieved that there was someone ensuring that their kids were studying and doing it right. Theirs was a generation that wasn't fortunate enough. They wished there was a Child Resource Centre while they were students... . Consequently, they're left to eke a living as daily wage labourers - which is something they wish to write off for their children's future! P.S.: I've spent 4 weeks volunteering my time at an NGO in Madurai. These are glimpses from interactions and insights I've had #madurai #tamilnadu #india # nonprofit #notforprofit #ngo #volunteer #voluntourism #education #literacy #childrights #children #school #parents #caste #makeadifference #dogood #inspiration #instagood #instamood #storiesofindia #_soi #igramming_india #whyiloiter #HaveFeetWillTravel
What from here?
There's more to what I saw and learnt from. Here are glimpses from the potter village in Manamadurai. These aren't just pots; from the same mud and the same kiln comes the Ghatam: a percussion instrument used in the Carnatic music of South India. Manamadurai ghatams have special tonal quality.
|The Ghatams of Manamadurai | Tamil Nadu|
That's what a visit to the potters' village in Manamadurai looked like. It was wonderful to hear that potters here have been mobilised into a cooperative which gives them a guaranteed wage along with the security of belonging to a collective, rather than going at it alone P.S.: I've spent 4 weeks volunteering my time at an NGO in Madurai. These are glimpses from interactions and insights I've had #madurai #tamilnadu #india #potter #pottery #pot #village #cooperative #federation #ruralindia #rural #storiesofindia #_soi #indiaphotosociety #lonelyplanetindia #travelstoke #travelgram #instatravel #nikonphotography #whyiloiter #HaveFeetWillTravel