Tsunami Relief & Rehabilitation Work
The Tsunami operation has entered a crucial phase. Emergency Relief work has come to an end and the focus is now on rehabilitation of livelihoods. ACCORD has been an active partner in setting up an NGO Coordination Centre in Nagapattinam, the worst affected district of Tamilnadu. SIFFS and SNEHA are two of the main NGOs with a strong presence among the fishing community. The NGO Coordination Cell played a crucial role in ensuring that the relief work was carried out in a coordinated fashion. Now that the relief phase is over, the Cell has metamorphosed into a Resource Centre. This forum attempts to provide technical support and to create a consensus between the NGOs, Government and the community on the rehabilitation process. Definitely not an easy task. UNDP is partnering SIFFs and SNEHA in setting up the centre. The Centre now has the mandate of the State government. More details of the efforts of this NGO Coordination and Resource Centre (NCRC) can be obtained from the website www.tsunami2004-india.org.
We continue to mobilise resources for the rehabilitation work through a network of friends and well wishers. Stan's sister Alpheen has been actively raising funds for the Tsunami victims. The details of such donors and the status of their donations are given in this website.
Cycle South India – a fun(d) raising event
After the 2003 Development From the Inside course, in Mysore, Catherine Barker and Imogen Stevens started an organisation called Make-A-Difference (MAD) in UK. During the last week of January, MAD and ACCORD jointly organised a sponsored cycle rally to raise funds in support of the adivasi community in Gudalur.
Twelve cyclists (7 from the UK and a number of us from Gudalur taking turns on the 5 extra bikes) cycled from Bangalore to Gudalur through villages and country roads, covering nearly 400 kilometres. The highlight of the expedition was that we were hosted by many development projects en route. It was a first, and it proved a terrific experience for our team to organise and be part of such a trip. The total trip lasted 10 days.
One of the participants, Jessica sent out a detailed newsletter to all her friends and sponsors after the trip. Click here to read Jess’s personal account of the cycle ride.
More than fifteen ACCORDIANs participated , either cycling or providing moral support to the cyclists. In spite of language barriers, the cultural divide was bridged. There was an amazing rapport built up and the warmth and bonhomie was apparent. Our young people were deeply moved by these strangers travelling from so far to cycle for the adivasi community. Marigan expressed everyone’s feelings when he said “Its not important that they raised one rupee or one thousand rupees. That these people travelled from so far, spending money to come here and giving up their time, cycling from morning to night for our people, that is the important thing.” The farewell was an emotional one, with hardly a dry eye in sight. It will stay in our memories and hearts for ever.
We hope to repeat the cycle trip next year. If you are interested in participating, or know anyone who is, please contact Catherine and Imogen.
UK Teachers Visit to Chembakolli village
This February has been an action packed month! We organised a much awaited exchange of UK teachers to Gudalur. More than a decade ago with Actionaid, London, we designed a development education pack for UK school children around the life of an adivasi village. The Chembakolli pack became very popular with UK schools. New materials like a Map of Chembakolly village, artefacts used by the adivasi community, photo packs describing the various facets of our life here, were subsequently developed and used in schools all over Britain. This visit of 12 Chembakolli pack teachers to Gudalur was organised to give the teachers an opportunity to directly experience life in our adivasi villages.
They spent a week here, interacted with the adivasi children and teachers of Vidyodaya school, visited the tea estate and a tea factory; discussed various issues with the adivasi team, and most importantly, spent a night in an adivasi village. Living with the adivasi children was a moving experience for the teachers. Many of them described the visit as an 'experience of a life time'.
The fifteenth adivasi festival was organised at Padanthorai in Devarshola area, on March 20th, this year. AMS organises this cultural festival every year in March as a means to preserve and promote the cultural traditions of the community. Adivasis belonging to all the five tribes (Paniya, Bettakurumba, Mullukurumba, Irula and Kattunayaka) assemble at a public ground, sing and dance the whole night and assert their cultural rights. The aim of the festival, is to encourage adivasi youth to participate in cultural activities, to motivate them to take an active interest in the affairs of the sangam, and most importantly to be proud of their culture and heritage. So the annual festivals have an important role for the younger generation.
This year too, the traditional adivasi rites (pooja) were performed at the beginning of the festival. People participated enthusiastically in traditional sports like archery, tug-of-war and bamboo walking. This was followed by singing and dancing throughout the night.
Bettakurumba women performing
their traditional dance in the festival
Devarshola Area participating in the
Annadanam (free supply of food to all the participants) was also organised using the rice and vegetables collected from the villages by volunteers. The Irula youth took charge of cooking. They served the food like professionals.
Just Change Project
The Just Change concept initiated by Stan and Mari a couple of years ago has become a reality. The idea has grown into an organisation and promises to become a movement. In March 2004, we started Just Change Trust in India to promote community to community trading. Before this, we took the idea to Orissa, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Everywhere the response from the people was spontaneous and positive. They grasped the idea instantly. We undertook some pilot trading, explored the potential of this concept and planned to upscale the operations during 2004. A workshop was held in October 2004 at Mysore for interested community groups and NGOs to take the movement forward. The idea was refined and a proposal to actually launch a Company to undertake trading between community groups was formalised.
We are delighted to announce that Sir Ratan Tata Trust Mumbai, has agreed to support this initiative for the first two years. Three community groups in Gudalur, Nilambur and Calicut will form the Just Change Producer Company shortly. This is the first step in setting up a just trading system, to help the local communities take control of their economies. The excitement among the groups is palpable so we are optimistic, exuberant and raring to go.
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