Children cheering in Kanchipuram, India

Visit a village in India

Join villagers from one of India’s poorest regions as they climb from subsistence to success

In February 2014, thanks to a generous donation of US $44,000 from Swedish construction firm Bergsäker AB/AVA Monitoring, we embarked on a two-year mission to transform the community of Paramesvaramangalam, Tamil Nadu, by deploying our model on a village-wide scale. We call it the Village Uplift Program.

We will update this space with the latest progress every six months.

About Paramesvaramangalam

Paramesvaramangalam is located in Kancheepuram, just 70 kilometers from some of India’s best-known ancient temples. With a population of 2,800, the village relies almost entirely on agriculture. Toilets are scarce, a testament to poor education in health and sanitation, and dozens of children are forced by poverty into working instead of attending school.

 The Plan

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One medium-sized enterprise

At least one woman with a particularly promising idea will be supported in developing a medium-sized business. This might be a brick-making unit, a bakery or a plant nursery.

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100% primary school enrolment

We’ll visit every family in Paramesvaramangalam to get children out of work and into school.

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Holistic development

Our team in India operates four complementary programs that help members access better healthcare, improved education, a cleaner environment and one-on-one civil rights training.

The story so far

Twelve months in, our project in Paramesvaramangalam is beginning to take hold. Six Village Development Committee meetings have been conducted, paving the way for major change in the village.

 

Tamarind fruit extraction | Paramesvaramangalan, India

A Self-Help Group working on tamarind fruit extraction

Self-Help Groups and Microfinance

Eighteen women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) have been formed so far, counting 253 members. More than 160 members have received basic training in capacity-building, and 77 have received microloans totalling INR 1,245,000 (US $6,000) from Hand in Hand to launch their businesses. An additional INR 850,000 (US $12,840) was disbursed by banks.

Awareness rally on child labor | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Child labor awareness rally

Child Labor Elimination Project

One child labor awareness rally was conducted, attended by 120 people, and 25 pupils have been begun attending a new Children’s Learning Center.

Meeting at the citizens' centre | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Citizens’ Center meeting

Citizens’ Center

Twenty-five people received e-literacy training at Hand in Hand’s Citizens’ Center, bringing the total to 259. Another 15 attended computer courses. Three awareness programs were conducted on India’s Right to Information Act, attended by 148 people.

Medical camp | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Medical camp

Health

Three mass awareness programs were conducted on nutrition and sanitation, attended by 392 people. Another 243 attended five awareness meetings on basic health and personal hygiene. One general medical camp was conducted, benefiting 164 people. An ophthalmology camp benefited 44.

A veterinary camp was also conducted, treating 996 animals.

Educating about organic farming | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Organic farming education

Environment

Four awareness programs were conducted to sensitize villagers on protecting the environment and vermicomposting (the practice of composting using worms). Seven mass village cleaning camps were also conducted. The environment was improved with the planting of 20 avenue trees and 20 kitchen garden units. Another 430 horticulture plants were distributed to individual households.

A village sponsor’s testimonial

We are now six months into the project, which began when Hand in Hand India conducted a survey to identify existing services and problems in the Panchayat. Through this exercise, we were able to map the demographics of the community and develop a plan for fighting poverty most effectively.

Achievements

Even at this early stage we’ve been able to achieve significant improvements in the areas highlighted as requiring intervention by the village mapping exercise.

Village Development Committee Formed

Our field team formed a village development committee to involve and engage the community in planning the activities to be implemented under the VUP.

Participatory Rural appraisal (PRA)-village mapping exercise done along with the community| Paramesvaramangalan, India

Participatory Rural appraisal (PRA)-village mapping exercise | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Livestock health care camp | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Livestock health care camp | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Self-Help Groups and Microfinance

Hand in Hand India mobilized 14 Self-Help Groups that currently have a total of 202 members. So far, 161 members have received basic business and financial training.  A total of INR 850,000 has been loaned to 25 family based enterprises, and we have also been able to hold a veterinary camp in which 996 animals were treated.

Awareness rally by school children on child labor | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Awareness rally by school children on child labor | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Child Labour Elimination Project

Our field team has helped to run two awareness campaigns and a rally as part of our aim of ensuring 100 percent school enrolment for children aged 6 to 14 within the Panchayat.

E- Learning programme : School Childern are taught on the basics of computer | Paramesvaramangalan, India

E- Learning programme : School Childern are taught on the basics of computer | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Citizens’ Center

Hand in Hand India has created a Citizens’ Center in the village which is providing the community with a vital access point for many state benefits. Having established internet access, the Center has held e-learning classes for 234 members of the community.

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Paediatric medical camp | Paramesvaramangalan, India

 

Health

Hand in Hand India provided a free medical camp for the village in which 164 people received treatment.  The camp also enabled our field team to promote better sanitation and health practices across the community.

Waste management

Waste management

Environment

As planned, we have been able to run two awareness campaigns on environment protection and vermicomposting, as well as organize three mass village-cleaning camps.

A village sponsor’s testimonial

Villagers attending the official Hand in Hand program launch | Paramesvaramangalam village |Tamil Nadu, India

Village program launch | Paramesvaramangalam village |Tamil Nadu, India

On 14 February, Hand in Hand India staff met with local leaders, ward members, Self-Help Group members, school teachers and youths. They
discussed their participation in the VUP program and professed their support.

Three days later the program was officially launched. Hundreds of community members visited Hand in Hand stalls to learn about the program, then settled in for a performance featuring street theatre and dances geared towards explaining Hand in Hand India’s five focus activities. Local leaders and Self-Help Group members signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hand in Hand staff, symbolizing their commitment to the program.

What happens next?

No two villages are the same – and neither are any two Village Uplift Programs. Work is underway now to complete a ‘participatory rural appraisal’ of Paramesvaramangalam, a process that involves surveying villagers to discover what they think their community needs most. The results will impact precisely how we implement the program. Broadly, however, we’ll be working in five tried and tested focus areas.

Tamarind processing | Paramesvaramangalan, India

Tamarind processing | Paramesvaramangalan, India

1. Job creation

Our job creation model will help hundreds of women entrepreneurs start businesses such as tailoring, bicycle repair and shopkeeping. We’ll also run veterinary camps to provide timely medical help to the milk-giving animals in the village, helping dairy entrepreneurs and the village in general.

School | Tamil Nadu, India

School | Tamil Nadu, India

2. Child labour elimination and access to education

Our field team has already begun visiting every family in the village to identify child workers. When we find them, we’ll work our absolute hardest to get them into school. We’ll also pay for evening tuition. Our goal is to ensure 100 percent school enrolment for children aged 6 to 14.

Citizens' center | Tamil Nadu, India

Citizens’ center | Tamil Nadu, India

 3. Citizens’ Center

Hand in Hand India’s Citizens’ Center will provide internet access – a vital access point for many state benefits – for the very first time. It will also host sessions on civic rights, such as the right to free education, which many in Paramesvaramangalam do not know exist.

Health Center | Tamil Nadu, India

Health Center | Tamil Nadu, India

 4. Health

Besides promoting better sanitation and health practices across the community, we’ll give free medical examinations conducted by professional doctors and nurses to the most vulnerable villagers. Further down the line, we’ll provide microloans to those who want to build toilets.

Villagers collecting wood to make firecoal |Paramesvaramangalam |Tamil Nadu, India

Villagers collecting wood to make firecoal |Paramesvaramangalam |Tamil Nadu, India

5. Environment

We’re just weeks away from beginning organic farming training courses and commencing waste collection services.

Village development committee | Tamil Nadu, India

Village development committee | Tamil Nadu, India

6. Village Development Committee

We also plan to mobilize local volunteers and village elders to help deliver the program by forming a Village Development Committee.

A village sponsor’s testimonial

"Village donations build a confidence that goes both ways: the villagers know that my support will last for two years – and personally, I hope to stay in touch for as long as I live. As the donor, I know that the program will really make people in the village self-sufficient. When they learn to manage money and run a business, they can help themselves, even when my financial support ends." Ulla Zachrisson | Hand in Hand supporter

Read village donor Ulla Zachrisson’s postcard from Vikrapandiam, India

Read more

Contact us

Private & corporate donors

Martha Huntley Major Donor and Corporate Fundraising Officer

Martha has been fundraising since January 2013, primarily with major donors, corporates and trusts. Before joining Hand in Hand she worked for international environmental NGO The Climate Group.

mhuntley@hihinternational.org
Tel: +44 20 7514 5094
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