May - June 2007
visit UK to launch Marsh Farm UK
adivasi UK trip in May 07 was an affair to remember. There were two
main objectives. For the adivasi gang to connect with the Marsh Farm Just
Change team and launch the MF JC tea at the Saturday market. And
to do a
special Chembakolli event for students and teachers of the
This trip was funded by ActionAid who created the
pack with the Gudalur team. Jeya, Bharathan, Chathi and Ayyappan
represented AMS in this visit. The launch announced
the arrival of JC tea to Marsh Farm residents with a colourful
event. Chathi played his pipe like the magician of Hamlin and crowds
turned to look, curious about the sight of Adivasis dancing with
Marsh Farmers, JC UK volunteers and ATP Germans aged 2 to
began building an
adivasi hut in the wondrous bluebell woods for the Chembakolli
the rain clouds hovering ominously above warranted a
contingency plan and so we built a back up indoors. The kids and
all the adults around had an unbelievably good time while
experiencing how a house could be built without any expense, without
buying a single thing. One bright spark announced “you don’t need
money but you do need lots of friends to help” putting in a
nutshell the adivasi philosophy which is all about community and
collective living. Out of the mouth of babes!
important as the launch was the tremendous bonding that took place.
At the end of our week in MF, the adivasi gang and the Marsh Farm
team bid an emotional weepy farewell, both sides enriched and warmed
by the encounter which transcended barriers of race, colour,
nationality and language.
The kids and
teachers learnt a Paniya song, managing to get round a fairly tongue
twisting language in the bargain. And played the elephant game.
Asked questions and sampled Gudalur banana chips too. Reams could be
written about this, but space crunch considerations forbid.
we will proceed briefly to the other activities we managed to fit in
which were sessions with the Oxfam UK team and the Said Business
school in Oxford. Interacting with the Charities Advisory Trust,
London staff and Founder whose efforts fund us significantly. An
afternoon with the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, a dinner
with JC London volunteers and meeting some of the UK trustees.
hosted and fed
by our Marsh Farm friends and Tricia, Nikki and Audrey made a huge
difference to the adivasi experience of UK. Stereotypes (which the
adivasis didn’t know about anyway!) were destroyed and memories
created which will last forever. Warm, friendly, caring and
concerned. That’s what the adivasis discovered their new found
British friends were like. They continue to talk about it a month n a
We have come a long way
in our health intervention in the adivasi villages in the last two
decades. One of the greatest achievements of the health programme has
been the remarkable improvement in the maternal health and care of
children under-5. Today, the member of Adivasi Munnetra Sangam can
boast of having almost eliminated maternal mortality and of having
reduced the infant mortality significantly. Registration of pregnant
women and immunisation of mothers and children now are more than 90% -
an enviable record given the constraints posed by scattered adivasi
villages and other difficult circumstances under which the health care
programme is implemented.
As a next step, we are concentrating on issues like increasing the
number of institutional deliveries, protect the new born during the
critical period of three to five days after delivery, family planning
methods and in short, ensuring safe motherhood. We have launched a
special programme last month for this purpose and are implementing a
series of measures.
Kotharavayal village (left) and
Theppakkadu village (above)
are two of the adivasi mothers who had a safe delivery
at the Gudalur Adivasi Hospital.
Each of the area teams have identified the pregnant women who will need
support during pregnancy. They have been assessed and high risk mothers
have been assured of emergency transport to the hospital whenever
required. All the expenses when they get admitted in the hospital are
taken care of, including food for the patient and by-standers if
needed. Moreover, protective clothing for the new borns, nutrition
supplement for the mothers, continuous support from the field health
staff are provided to the women.
Most of these programmes are being implemented with the support of Charities
Advisory Trust, UK. The Gudalur Adivasi Hospital procured an Ultra
Sound Machine also for diagnosing pregnant women so that complications
can be picked up early. In May and June, some friends in India have
also supported the hospital expenses of delivery admissions in our
hospital by donating to Ashwini through Give India Foundation.
The Good Gifts Catalogue has another
interesting gift this year. Umbrellas. As the caption of this gift
"Children and grown
ups are at risk of catching serious chills, leading
to bronchitis and pneumonia if they get soaked in the monsoon rains.
Give them an umbrella, produced by a women’s group in Kerala."
In Gudalur valley, heavy rain during the monsoon is one of the biggest
hurdles for the adivasi children attending schools regularly. So, this
thoughtful gift from many well-wishers in UK was a great boon for the
adivasi children. In our meeting, the team decided that umbrellas
should be given on a priority basis to school going adivasi children.
Moreover, we decided to help a women's group in Kerala making umbrellas
by ordering all our umbrellas from them. A group of 10 women affiliated
to the Saward's women SHGs in Calicut made 1200 umbrellas and supplied
them to Gudalur right in time.
As soon as the umbrellas reached Gudalur, the area teams organised
simple events in the area centres to distribute the umbrellas with the
help of the local sangam leaders. Here, Marigan and Lakshmi, the
leaders in Srimadurai area are giving the umbrellas to the adivasi
children in a function organised at the Kanjikolli school.
We hope that these umbrellas will help protect the
children from catching serious chills and other illnesses and will be a
good motivation for them to continue to go to schools.
Charities Advisory Trust for arranging this gift. You can also gift
umbrellas to the adivasi children by clicking this link.
Tee Projekt invites
adivasis to Germany
An eight member team
from Gudalur was invited by our friends in Germany, the Adivasi Tee
Projekt, to visit
them in May/June. Cheeru, Sarasu, Janaki, Durga, Suresh, Kannan,
K.C.Krishnan and Jayachandran went to Germany - in spite of many
hurdles and problems during the preparation stage. Here is a brief
report by them on the trip.
"Though there were so many hurdles and problems during our preparation
- till the last minute, we were not sure whether all of us will be able
to board the flight in time, everything went according to the plan once
we landed in Germany.
The Adivasi group
and the Adivasi tea project members spent 4 days
together to prepare a street play. The theme of the play was about the
Magic tea of the Nilgiris and how it can help build relationships
between communities and can be used to defeat the evil called
'Globalisation'. The characters were from the well known comic story of
team and ATP members perform the play on Church day at Koln City Centre
This play was put up on the Church day at Koln. It was a great
experience to evolve the play with Barbara who is a theatre person.
Everyone enjoyed performing it and we took the opportunity to talk to
the public about Adivasi people, our work and about our tea estate. We
enjoyed doing the play so much that we ended up doing it five times on
the same day.
The group was together the first week when we were preparing the play
and the last week at the Church day. We had a stall at the church day
and we took turns to be at the stall showing and selling our tea, soap,
pepper and other products.
held exhibitions and organised stalls to display and sell our products.
For two weeks the team was split into two groups. One group traveled in
the east and the other one in south. We stayed with the families of the
ATP group which helped us to get to know them better and to understand
Both the groups visited schools, one world shops, old people's homes
and disabled people's homes. We talked about the issues faced by
the adivasis and tried to understand their problems. Of course, the
common theme was to build a strong relationship directly, to provide
solidarity to each other and to mutually help to solve our problems.
at House of Democracy in Leipzig
All the groups that we talked were really interested about the concept
of the just trade. Everyone wanted to know more details about our Just
change initiative. K.C.Krishnan said “I feel, this is the
beginning of Just change Germany. I am thrilled to know that so many of
them are interested and willing to support us”.
Everyone was touched by the affection and care of our german friends.
ATP group had planned the trip so well that we also had time for
sightseeing. We met almost every family member of the ATP in this
trip. It was worth all the troubles we took in arranging this trip. We
would like to thank everyone we met in Germany and making this a
General Body Meeting
of Just Change India Producer Company
On June 27, we organised the Annual General Body meeting
of Just Change India Producer Company in Gudalur. As
always a celebratory event!! Though the AGM only requires 8
people from the four member
groups - it is kept open to as many people who can participate. We had close to a 100 people, most of them
from Gudalur. We had Kannan a
14 year old boy -son of a JC committee member from SAWARD as
well. He never misses a JC event and is actively involved!! There
were people from BVM and SAWARD in Kerala and we had a team
(which included 3 women) who traveled all the way from Orissa - more
than 40 hours by train!! Their effort to be be present and
participate was a great morale booster.
Sajan and Subhash presented the annual report and financial details of
the Company's first year of operations. Their presentation can be
Stan made a
presentation on the process involved in starting a Village Consumer
The meeting was a huge success and everyone
went away with a strong sense of achievement and even stronger
determination to take it forward. Mr. P.N.Nambiar one of the founders
of Bhoodhan Vikas Mandal said " Just Change is not a company that
satisfies itself only with profits as other companies do. We are a
company that aims to bring about a social revolution!"
Thakurdasji - our elder statesman from SVA
in Orissa sang a song he composed about Just Change Products and the
concept. He said to me at lunch, "the 'market' buys our flowers
seeds (sunflower) and sells back to us the oil from the
very flowers that we have grown!! Just Change will change all
Regular monthly updates about our
education activities are available in the Vidyodaya