Our mothers conference on Sunday was a great success. Over 2000 mothers turned up and marched about a kilometre from one school to another. Originally we had intended to have about 1500 of our sponsored children but the mother’s indicated they would prefer to have a day out without the kids 🙂 . I suppose mothers are the same everywhere.
Sunday was also national voters day and we used this to raise the profile of our partner here and I believe we were featured on the local News channels.
In December I was contacted by Sigurdur, a retired video producer from Iceland and he offered to produce a short video for promotional use by Nandri. He videoed a lot of the march and the subsequent conference which we hope to edit over the next few weeks so that you can see the highlights. Today he spent shooting what will be a five minute video about the impact which we have had on one family. It really illustrates how all of our programs integrate for the benefit of the children and mothers in our various programs.
I will tell you more about this in a separate blog
Michael Sweeney my fellow director and I arrived in India today Saturday. We initially flew to Dubai which is an eight hour flight and then we flew from Dubai to Chennai where we were picked up. It is about three hour drive to Vellore where we will be based for the next 6 days.
This is a photograph of a street banner advertising our mothers conference which is on Sunday, 25 January. 2000 mothers will attend.
It does serve to publicise our local partner Child Aid Trust and the work that it is doing. I believe the other two in the photographs are local dignitaries and being associated with them also is beneficial to Child Aid Trust.
For the last 10 years our partner in India Child Aid Trust has moved 6 times. They currently occupy small crowded offices.
We are hoping to build a rural development centre which will incorporate training facilities, space for visitors, accommodation for volunteers and a medical dispensary and office facilities.
Why – We currently have 1400 (growing by 50 a month) mainly illiterate Dalit mothers and this will double in 3 years. We need to run training courses in sanitation and hygiene, childrearing, their rights and many other topics including agriculture topics.
Our mothers feel proud to be part of our organisation. They wear their uniform sari proudly.
Every day at least 20 of our 1400 mothers come to the office. The means overcrowding for staff and mothers and lack of privacy.
One reason for my visit is to look at different sites for this project and speak to builders. Renting is not an option. We were thrown out of the last place due to our many Dalit visitors arriving every day. This is more discrimination against them.
Land prices are crazy in India. Think of a site on the road between, say Ardee and Dundalk. A site in India between 2 smallish towns is quoting €50,000 to €70000 for 1 acre. I suspect in Ireland today I might get a house thrown in for most that price.
We were hoping we would find some land owner who would be motivated by the work that we are doing and price the land accordingly. I think we have found one.
One of our Irish sponsors has already offered €20000 donation. We need small donations also.
Six months ago I wrote that a mother who had just joined a mother’s self-help group announced that she needed to sell one of her twins as she could not afford to feed them and her other two children. Through our help and support we managed to convince her not to do so.
Today I met her with the twins and everybody is very happy.
We went to school in a slum area in the local city. During a visit the children were eating their lunch. I saw one child of about five walking from the school with her dinner plate partly eaten. She was evidently bringing the food home for her mother.
We visited a small village this evening with a local mayor. He had arranged for solar based electricity lighting in this small village where they’re often without electricity for three or four hours in the evening. This good man also supports the education of 60 children. We passed by one home where one teenager said she could not do her homework as her bottle of ink had run dry. The cost is about €.15.
We take for granted being able to keep our children, having enough food and having electricity and biros. Many of our client families don’t have this luxury.
Thank you to our sponsors because without you I would not be here and experiencing some of the good stories and the way we are able to change peoples lives forever.
For those of you who don’t know, in December 2013 we leased a 10 acre farm. Well it was just 10 acres of bare ground which we have now turned into a farm.
We built an accommodation unit for the people who work there. We have just completed a cow shed for 30 cows and calves.
We built a number of chicken units to accommodate the organic free range chickens we are producing.
We have installed three solar panels to ensure constant temperature for the chicks and electricity to pump water for irrigation.
Our organic free range chickens will have a much higher value and of course the chickens will have had a much better life as they are free to run around in a large enclosure. Today I believe we have 3000 chicks.
We also have 300 ducks, a fish pond a rice paddy, peanut fields and we are growing feed for the cows.
We have a few goats and our next plan is for sheep.
Using our micro finance income generation program we are going to roll out small chicken producing units for our mothers.
We have two new trustees in Chennai who are setting up a website to market our free range organic chickens.
Our plan is well underway to make almost enough profit to cover the costs of local salaries and overheads. We are also going to start training some of our mothers in better ways of looking after their cows.
It’s amazing how much you can do with 10 acres of land. A number of our local people are working very hard.
Most of my photos show happy children but this does not show the full picture. Included in recent photos is a boy who saw his father setting fire to his mother and killing her. Alcoholism may be the reason or family pride. The boy (not featured here) is now adopted by his mother’s sister thank God. He is included in our sponsorship programme. The money which we receive from our sponsors every month make a huge difference to lives such as this child. Please keep it coming sponsors.
Today we are meeting 30 children or should I say adults who graduated this year.
Indian TV news reported that parents in this state of Tamil Nadu were arrested today for burning their daughter for marrying a Dalit, (low caste untouchables in India and these are the people which we mainly help)
A few days ago a satellite which was launched three years ago reached Mars much to the pride of all India.
Today Mr Modi the new Prime Minister launched a campaign called clean India. The whole country is absolutely filthy, lacking in sanitation, sewerage and people don’t help by the amount of litter which is thrown around.
Mr Modi evidently revolutionised his state of Gujarat. If he can do for the whole country what he did for that state then things will change.
I arrived yesterday with Caoilfhionn, my daughter, who is joining us for a week. She is flabbergasted by India. I am used to it but she finds amazing the numbers of people everywhere, the cows on the streets, colourful saris, beautiful women, gorgeous children, the constant beeping, noise and litter but most of all the friendliness of everyone.
Today we went to the farm where they are making great progress. Cowshed almost completed for 30 cows, free range organic chicken unit finished. They also have ducks and have filled a pond with fish. There is also a turkey running around who won’t be there in January 🙁
I have been asked many times over the last week why we changed our name and why Nandri?
It’s a long story. In 2011 we realised there was another charity based in Cork with the same name as us so we added the word India to distinguish ourselves.
There are a number of reasons why we felt the need to change the name yet again.
1. I bore a lot of friends and family about the charity but when asked few could remember the exact name.
2. Over the last three years we have become more family than child focused.
3. Today we are more about empowering families to earn their own income rather than just giving out aid or charity.
4. The words Ireland and India were just adding to the ‘remember our name’ problem.
Also Nandri.org is short and sweet and importantly was available as an Internet domain name.
We operate in Tamil Nadu in India. Nandri is the local word for thank you.
I am heading to India on Monday, 29 September where 1400 women and 1400 children who are supported every month by our sponsors will say Nandri.
I too say Nandri to these wonderful sponsors and to those who support our fundraising activities such as the ball on 18 October 2014.