Newsletter

No.17

Oct - Dec  2007


  Celebrating 20 years of Change

Adivasi Munnetra Sangam celebrated 'Adivasi Day' on December 5th in all the area centres. The black and white flag of AMS was raised, community leaders and children assembled for simple functions at the area centres and the significance of Adivasi Day was highlighted. This year, the activists of AMS had focused on unresolved issues pending with the Government which concern the adivasi community. Petitions highlighting these issues were drafted and presented to local Government authorities.

This year, we are also celebrating 20 years of remarkable changes achieved by the adivasi community by bringing out a special calendar. Adivasi activists and our team members identified achievements and changes that are important in their view. While great leaps in the health and education status of the community can be measured and proved with numbers, how can we portray the issue of the 'adivasis not being afraid of others today' or 'we feel equal to others' or 'now we have started thinking about the future' ?

Click on the image above to open a bigger image in a new window

The AMS Calendar 2008 captures the essence of these changes in a celebratory manner. Thanks to Tariq for designing this calendar and getting it printed in Bangalore.

  New Building for Gudalur Adivasi Hospital

The new hospital building for Gudalur Adivasi Hospital is coming up fast. Thanks to the friends and donors in different parts of the world, we have boldly started the construction of this new hospital building. More details of the hospital building construction, status of progress, support offered by different people and the total estimate and design for the new building are available in Ashwini website. Adivasi boys from Kotharavayal and Ezhumuram are busy making the soil cement blocks required for the construction of the new building.

We are also encouraging participation and contribution from the adivasi community in completing this construction. This is to ensure that the community feels ownership over the new building and to provide an opportunity for them to contribute in whichever way they can. To start this process, all the adivasi team members took the initiative and worked in the hospital site for two days on December 24th and 25th.

All the team members working in different adivasi institutions associated with AMS, men and women, old and young, came forward to volunteer their manual labour. They moved the soil cement blocks, transported the construction materials on head loads to the construction site and helped in expediting the construction process. They showed, not just by words, but through action that they are right in the forefront and will take all the efforts needed to make this dream a reality. Periodic updates of this construction activity will be available in Ashwini website.

  Land survey in Adivasi villages

The animators of AMS are again focusing on the land issues of adivasi community on a priority basis. During the last two months, detailed survey of lands under the possession of adivasis, land alienated from them by others, lands that need proper legal titles and documents from the Government is  being conducted by the animators. Data related to more than 150 adivasi hamlets has been collected by the animators and the next step in this process is being planned right now.

 

The objective of this exercise is to throw light on the importance of land for providing sustainable livelihood to adivasi families, the apathy of the Government in ensuring this birthright of the adivasis and the need for continuous struggle on this aspect. Everyone is motivated with the successful outcome of the struggle in Erumadu area, where the land usurped by a non-tribal was taken back by the adivasi family. We have filed cases to reopen cases against powerful tea estates that have encroached into adivasi villages or have denied access to their own villages.

 

As land becomes the most scarce resource of the region, adivasi community needs to be more cautious and the next generation of adivasis have to be prepared to face the onslaught by powerful vested interests to take over their meagre landholding. AMS will continue this struggle and will highlight the land rights of the adivasis.

 

  Partnership with Government of Tamilnadu

Over the years, our health intervention among the adivasis of Gudalur valley has gained credibility not only from the adivasi community, but from the Government as well. Given the difficult circumstances under which delivery of essential health services in adivasi villages is required to be done, our comprehensive model has proved to be quite effective and sustainable. Hence, Government of Tamilnadu is coming forward to partner us in reaching out to the adivasi community. Especially, the newly formed Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP) of the Government of Tamilnadu has come out with a few initiatives under its Public Private Partnership programme.

 

 

Few months ago, Ashwini was entrusted with the responsibility of running a Mobile Clinic services in the adivasi villages of Gudalur taluk. On November 19, 2007, we signed two Memorandum of Association with the Government of Tamilnadu :

  • To provide treatment to adivasi patients affected by sickle cell disease adivasi patients and

  • To provide free in-patient care to adivasi patients who get admitted in Gudalur Adivasi Hospital

Though working with the Government has its own inherent risks, we agreed to this partnership essentially to ensure that public fund are best spent and that they reach the adivasi community in the best possible way. Moreover, this partnership has opened up opportunities to interact with the senior officials and top bureaucrats of the Government, through whom we would like to influence the policies of the Government.

 

  Training Centre & 4 houses inaugurated

As mentioned in our last newsletter, construction of the new Training Centre and Four houses for the workers of Madhuvana Estate has been completed. On November 27th, we had organised a ceremony to inaugurate these.

 

Sangam leaders of AMS from all the eight areas, all the adivasi team members and some friends from other countries attended this inauguration function. Adivasi leaders lit lamps in the traditional way and inaugurated the houses. These houses were constructed with the financial support of  Charities Advisory Trust, UK and Ethical Investors, UK. Families who will be residing in these houses were also invited for the function.

 

 

It was a pleasant surprise that Ms.Rosaleen Mulji of Nilgiri Adivasi Trust, which funded the training centre was in India on that day and could make it to the function in the estate. K.T.Subramanian, who single-handedly managed the implementation of these two projects was specially thanked in the function.

 

 

We started using the training centre right away ! Just after the inauguration ceremony, more than 80 adivasi team members had the Review Meeting in the training centre. Every one stayed in the big hall of the centre that night and continued the meeting the next day as well. It is an ideal location to have good, in-depth discussions without any interruptions. We thank everyone who made this project a reality.

 

  Recognition for our work to control TB & HIV / AIDS

 

On December 1, World AIDS Day, the Tamilnadu AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) of Government of Tamilnadu organised a function in Coimbatore in which contribution of ASHWINI in fighting Tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS was recognised. The Health Minister of the Government of Tamilnadu gave certificate to Dr.Nandakumar in appreciation of our efforts in controlling Tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS.

We are part of the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme of the Government of India. For the last one year, we have initiated an exclusive programme to handle HIV / AIDS patients. Gudalur Adivasi Hospital has been selected to function as Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centre for HIV patients. Besides testing for HIV incidence, this centre is also functioning as a counseling centre. We have developed health education and other communication materials to expose the adivasi community to issues related to HIV / AIDS.

 

 

We are also hoping to share this knowledge and skills to benefit the general society in and around Gudalur. We are happy to get a volunteer, Ms.Lynette Jacobi from South Africa as a resource person for our HIV / AIDS control programme. She has come to work as a Development Worker through Skillshare International and will be in-charge of the counseling centre, besides helping develop communication materials. 

Regular monthly updates about our education activities are available in the Vidyodaya Newsletters


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