Continued Success of our Child Education Programme

Over the last number of years, Nandri has granted a total of 518 ‘Support Higher Education’ loans to children, so they can continue their education to 3rd level. In 2018, 179 children were given life changing financial loans so they could stay in education and achieve a degree leading to a rewarding career. This enables the graduates to support themselves and their families.

Nandri recognizes the importance of early education and supporting our very young children. As well as encouraging and enabling our older children to progress to higher education, we also run after school children’s clubs for the younger Dalit boys and girls. To date we have 10 Child resource Centers catering to the needs of our children.

When their school day ends they go to the after school clubs. They kick off with some fun traditional games to energize the children before starting their homework. Many of their parents are illiterate and so unable to help their children with completing their homework assignments. One of the many benefits of our children’s clubs is our remedial teachers are always on hand to help them.

WIth the wonderful educational support these young boys and girls are receiving from Nandri, we expect to see tremendous success with our children continuing on to 3rd level education and well paid, fulfilling careers. This was something impossible for a child from an untouchable Dalit family until Nandri, with your help changed everything and gave them a bright future.

Without the support and donations from all of Nandri’s supporters we could not change these young peoples lives, giving them not just hope, but the practical financial help they need to achieve their goals in life. On behalf of all our children, I would like to say a big thank you!

Update on our sanitation programme.

To date, our sanitation programme has provided a total of 58 families with new toilets for their homes. The toilets are a very basic outdoor construction.  The Indian government will provide 50 per cent towards the cost of building but without a loan from Nandri the families would be unable to afford the balance.

It is normal in poor areas of rural India for families to defecate in the fields beside their homes. The loans from Nandri to help build toilets has changed the lives of these impoverished people and given them the opportunity to live cleaner and therefore healthier, more dignified lives.

We are continuing to educate our mothers and children about the importance of hygiene to prevent diseases, teaching them to wash their hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs. The children are bringing the lessons they are learning in our Resource Centers home and sharing good hygiene practices amongst the rest of their families!

Nandri would like to say a big thank you to our supporters of this project. You are helping us transform the quality of these families lives forever.

Nandri bringing joy to our families at Christmas

Christmas should be a season of happiness and joy but for our poor Dalit mothers, struggling to survive,  this is not the case. This year, we wanted to make Christmas extra special for them. In previous years we gave our mothers sarees but this year our group leaders suggested we give small gifts to celebrate Christmas and recognise our mothers achievements in the past year. It certainly lifted their spirits! They sang and danced and were delighted with the presents they received. The spirit of Christmas and the joy of giving brought happiness to all during our celebrations.

 

It’s our business to make Nandri work!

In Nandri, we believe that it is very important for our Donors to understand how our charity works, how it benefits our families and where their money is being utilised. The tightly organised day to day running of our charity is key to its success. The CEO of our partner organisation in India once said to me “Fred this is not a business it’s a charity”. I answered that unless we run it like a business with professional procedures and systems then it will not prosper.

We implemented Salesforce, one of the best corporate CRM systems in the world, and a number of user licenses were made available to us free of charge by the company. We are extremely grateful to Salesforce. It has enabled us to manage the records we have on thousands of our Nandri mothers in our non profit.

In January 2012 we started a micro finance programme to give a loan to a mother to buy a cow or other income generating asset. The mother can repay a loan within two years and all repayments are immediately re-loaned to another needy mother in the group.

In 2013 we realised that many of our children were dropping out of education at 17 or 18 years of age. We then started to give them loans to go to college. This immediately doubled the number of our children who go to 3rd level, as many families could not previously afford the upfront fees, despite the fact that this was only in many cases less than €100 per annum. Most of our mothers only earn €20 a month.

We could not manage these programmes without the appropriate technology and systems and Salesforce is the most important system which we use. Today we have quite an extensive, complex database, with details of over 3,500 mothers, 2000 children and 700 current donors in our system

Every month almost Rs.2 million is processed through the Salesforce system. Within two weeks of each month end we receive a set of management accounts which have been audited by a local chartered accountant in India. In Ireland one of our directors who is also a chartered accountant produces monthly accounts for Ireland and reviews the accounts from India.

Our mother’s pay 1% per month interest on the reducing balance and this is mainly used to fund the third level loan program. Our mothers also pay a membership fee of about one rupee per day. This income is enabling us to grow the organisation and to achieve a level of self sustainability in India.

In February 2016 we opened our Nandri centre. It is a 6000 ft.² building. The opening was attended by over 3500 mothers and children and local dignitaries. It has put us on the map locally and has enabled us to apply for grants from the Indian government to run training programmes for our mothers and children. It cost about €300,000 and was fully paid for by a small number of donors from Ireland including some directors. The building is used for training courses and administration and for regular meetings of over 600 officers of our 200 mothers self-help groups.

Most of our 3500 mothers are members of the low caste so-called untouchable Dalit community. We found it difficult to rent rooms for meetings and offices. Our mothers are treated like travellers in Ireland, who find it hard to rent rooms for weddings or other celebrations. Our 3500 mothers proudly wear their Nandri saris and are proud to be part of our organisation.

We are a small organisation and our revenue for the current financial year is likely to be around €200,000. We only have one part time employee in Ireland who works 10 hours a week. Our future strategy is to grow our micro finance fund. Since 2012 we have issued loans of over €900,000. The repayments are used to issue about 50 to 100 new loans every month.

In 2016 we were approved a grant of $50,000 from the Lions Clubs International Foundation #LCIF. We had to come up with $17,000 matching funds and much of this was provided by Lions Clubs in Ireland. This fund has already being used to provide loans to 350 widows and single parents.

On top of our micro finance programmes, our mothers, who meet every month in groups of 15 to 20, are also encouraged to save. They save about Rs.100 per month which is the equivalent of a days wages for them. This money is reloaned to their group colleagues. They also charge each other a small interest-rate. Our mothers proudly show off their passbooks which record their subscriptions, savings and loans. We have set up the necessary paperwork systems to enable them to manage these loans and savings themselves. We employ eight fieldworkers who attend all the meetings to ensure that all our procedures and systems are maintained.

We want our sponsors and donors to know that we make their money go far. Every €400 donation will change the life of a family who receive a loan to buy a cow. Two years later the same money will benefit another family and so on. A donation to Nandri is a gift that keeps on giving. Our future plan is double the size of our loan book. Within five years we hope to have 10,000 mothers of which over 5000 will have received a life changing loan.

Drumsticks making an educational and nutritious addition to Nandri!

Nandri Drumstick plantation

 

Our workers are busy removing the weeds at the drumstick vegetable plantation yard at Nandri Center.  Drumsticks, also known as Moringa, are vegetables loaded with valuable minerals, healthy proteins and essential minerals, making it a very healthy food. It is used as one of the ingredients in sambar, a type of stew. Being high in nutrients and tasty in nature, the leaves and pods of this green vegetable possess blood purifying properties and it also acts as a potent antibiotic agent.

 

We have created this drumstick yard to help train our agricultural students who come to Nandri to learn how to grow and tend crops.  In addition, we will showcase the plantation as a model as we bring forward our initiative to introduce allotment farming to our Nandri families. It is mostly women who do the weeding and even if they work along side men, the women get lower remuneration for their work.

Nandri Drumstick plantation

The physical work done by these workers will bear fruit within six months and we will use the drumsticks in Nandri Centre in the delicious South Indian food we will prepare for our guests and participants in our training programmes.

B.Com funded by a loan from Nandri

 

When Sagaya Vincent with the help of Nandri,  managed to complete his schooling, his mother who had very little income, wanted him to get a job.   She needed the money to help feed their family.  An educational loan from Nandri called SHE (Support for higher education) enabled him to continue and achieve his degree and start his own business.   Now his familys’  future is secure:

“My name is Sagaya Vincent. I belong to a village called Allikondapttu, Thiruvannamalai  Dt.  My mother name is Mangala Mary. She is a member of Mother Group called Lillie Annaiyar Group which is one of the Mothers Group formed by Nandri. Up to 7th std my mother somehow managed to help me study. From 8th Std onwards I was selected by Nandri for sponsorship. Up to 12th Std I studied with the financial help from Nandri. After finishing school   I wanted to go for college education. I told my mother about my intention. But my mother asked me to find a job and help the family citing family financial strains. But the aim of going to college was burning in me.

I  came to know from the Field staff of Nandri  that they are giving educational loans to deserving students under SHE programme,  which means Support for Higher Education. I informed my mother about it who also knew about the loan facility already. She approached Nandri and applied for educational loan. My mother received a loan for Rs.25,000/-. With the help of this amount I joined college studies. I finished B.Com and was employed for some time. I earned some money and took care of the family as well. Now I have a small computer center which is a source of good income.  With the income from the computer centre I earned some money which was more than enough for my marriage.

All these were made possible only because of Nandri which took care of my school as well as college studies. I owe my present situation to Nandri and Mothers Group to which I would be ever grateful.”

The Nandri Centre 2 years on.

In February 2016 we opened our Nandri Centre. This is a training and administration centre for our mothers and children built on 2 acres of land in a rural part of southern India. Previously we had to move every 12 months as our mothers who are members of the Dalit so called low caste community are like travellers in Ireland. They are not welcome anywhere.

They are proud to be members of Nandri. They proudly wear their Nandri saris. They even pay for membership which is helping to make the organisation self sustaining.

We have one large training room with full audiovisual facilities and a computer room with a dozen computers. We run regular training courses. Our large reception area is used for regular cheque presentations for loans.

A few weeks ago we had 200 mothers attend what is called an RPL (recognition of prior learning) course which is funded by the Indian government. This particular course was to teach the mothers how to pack and pick vegetables. The mothers are each paid to encourage them to attend the course and Nandri Foundation are compensated for running the course including providing food for the attendees. These mainly illiterate mothers are proud of the certification and it will be easier for them to get daily work and will also become an important part of our income following our major investment in the centre.

Every day almost 200 children attend English language courses in local villages. They learn spoken English through song. They get help with their homework and are provided with some nutrition before they play games. We now have a playground for them and a cricket training area in the centre and they will be invited there on a regular basis.

We are pleased with the success of the centre which was funded by large donations by Irish donors and directors.

Nandri Success Stories

This month we are starting to share some of the stories of the people that have been helped start a new path in life with the help of Nandri’s support. We want to share some of the amazing journeys and to let you see how effective our loans, sponsorships and training programmes have been and what they can achieve.

A success Story of Jhansi made possible by Nandri.org

My name is Jhansi. I belong to a poor family from Thalayampallam, Thiruvannamalai Dt. My mothers name is Arulayee. I am the eldest in the family.  I have one sister and two brothers. My brothers are mentally challenged. My mother is member of a Mothers Group called Vasantham, which is one of the mother groups formed by Nandri. I received sponsorship from Nandri when I finished my schooling without any difficulties.

I wanted to go for higher studies at college. But my parents could not afford to send me to college. Instead they asked me to find a job and help the family. I was determined to go for higher studies. I was able to meet the field staff of mothers group. I told them about my goals and the difficulties I was facing at that time. She took me to meet the Managing Trustee of Nandri. I narrated my actual aim and ambition to him.

The managing Trustee heard my plea’s fervently. He then decided to put me in a college. He got me an admission in Sacred Heart College of Nursing at Velledu. He took all the responsibilities to himself and saw to that I was taken care of well at the college and the hostel. He paid all the college and hostel fees until I finished my Nursing course successfully. Now I am doing my six months intern course at Delhi. I hope I will get a job as a nurse soon. My dreams of finishing a college course were made possible only by Nandri and Mothers Group.

While I was studying in the college Nandri gave a loan to my mother to buy a cow. My mother bought a cow and from the milk she sold in the market she was able to run the family with ease. In both ways Nandri and Mothers Group helped me attain my goal and at the same time for my mother to run the family without difficulty.

I will be forever grateful to Nandri and Mothers Group, also I promise to help poor children like me to pursue their studies in whatever way it is possible.

Volunteer Tony Shaju experiences teaching and living in a rural village in Tamil Nadu

It was a typically hot and humid Monday morning when I set off from the Nandri centre with Joe the Nandri India CEO.  Being honest I didn’t really know my destination, only that it would be quite rural and unlike anything I had experienced before. After driving past many towns and some bigger villages we started to head to a more mountainous area until we finally arrived in the village of Udaiyarkuppam. To my surprise and delight there stood a St. Anthony’s church with the parish house beside it where I would be staying for the next week or so. I would be living with the parish priest, Fr Arokiya Raj, who thankfully spoke English well and helped me to adjust.

The next morning, I was awoken by a what sounded like a large crowd. It was in fact a bell and then the public-address system from the church which calls out the time followed by a prayer or small bible reading at various times during the day. Unfortunately for me it started at 6AM!

Across the yard from the church was the local school where Joe had suggested that I could help teach English while I was there. I hastily met the young principal, Karthik, and before I knew it I was officially a teacher at Anthony R.C.S Middle School. Suddenly in front of me I had 40 odd expectant kids, looking back curiously at this overawed foreigner. This was a Tamil medium school so the standard of English and exposure to it were rather poor.

Nevertheless, me and my students in 7th and 8th standard managed to communicate effectively with a mix of English, broken Tamil and extravagant hand movements! The enthusiasm and eagerness from the kids was fantastic as was the competitiveness which was on display when playing English learning games in class.

Break times were filled mostly with playing kabaddi, the local sport, where you try to tag the opposing team and run back to your team’s half before they catch and take you down. I had resisted many calls from the students to be a ‘raider’ but eventually gave in. It can get quite rough but thankfully they understood me saying “soft” before they gleefully took me down!

There are around 260 children, mainly Dalits, in the school and each day ends with everyone outside singing the national anthem before heading home which was quite different to Ireland. Admittedly it was daunting at first having never been in a comparable situation but I feel it was a worthwhile and beneficial experience for me and hopefully the students too!

My evenings were equally busy as I went around the nearby villages to conduct surveys as part of my work with Nandri. So, I was visiting mothers and their families who had received loans from Nandri 3 or 4 years ago and helping to determine the impact on their lives. This was another new experience from me as I was exposed to a different side of India than have seen on previous visits. I had help to complete this work in the form of Selvam, a college student in Chennai who is from the local area. His help to translate and converse with the mothers combined with his local knowledge were invaluable. Initially Selvam and I went on foot around Udaiyarkuppum and as I walked up to the homes of some of the mothers I could see the cow they owned- bought with the loan from Nandri. The cow provides them with an asset and essentially becomes an earning member of the family. The milk will usually be sold to a cooperative and so provides a regular monthly income source for the family and also future calves can be sold. Thus, I could see the direct benefit of the Nandri loan for some of the mothers as the extra income was used to help take care of living costs. Indeed some of it was put towards the educational fees for their children. It was also nice a surprise when knocking on a door and seeing it opened by one of my students, some of whom are supported by Nandri.

Of course, as I was travelling around the villages- sometimes with Selvam on his little motorbike- I met others who were struggling more. Some are constrained by chronic medical ailments or a lack of access and affordability to treatment and generally there is a shortage of work. This is in part due to Tamil Nadu being in the midst of its worst drought in 140 years. Naturally the shortage of water affects daily living but also employment opportunities as most people are agricultural daily labourers, thus relying on the land. The struggle is not helped currently by the governments inadequate support despite national protests from Tamil Nadu farmers.

I must also mention the generosity of the villagers as I was travelling around to their homes. I’m grateful to their willingness to help us locate fellow group mothers on our list and inform us of any issues. I was also offered numerous snacks, fruits, tea and juice which was very welcome in the scorching heat. Indeed, I had the opportunity to have dinner in some of the mother’s houses and taste some local dishes which was nice- despite being far spicier than I’m used to! I was also able to attend a local Hindu festival one day which included inserting metal hooks into the backs of some worshippers and walking on fire followed by a procession. I had seen some similar things on t.v before but it was interesting to see it up close.

Overall it was an eye-opening experience to live in a truly rural area of India and see some of the people that Nandri support. I’ll certainly miss interacting with the imaginative kids from the school and the ability to talk with locals and learn about their lives while I definitely won’t miss the early morning ‘alarm clock’!  I’m told by locals that when the rains come the area is lush green and quite scenic and I look forward to returning sometime and seeing it for myself.

Tony Shaju

 

 

Successful Microfinance Implementation

In 2012 we started our #micro-finance program. We provide 90% of the cost of purchasing a cow or sewing machine to impoverished mainly #Dalit mothers.  These women live in rural communities, generally without access to clean water or sanitation or power.

Mothers self-help groups are the important crux of these communities. We have over 3,000 mothers in our programs and each mother belongs to a mother’s self-help group . Each group consists of 15 to 20 members. The group meets each month. Each mother/member pays a small monthly subscription and an annual subscription. They each save Rs.100 (approx. $1.50) per month.  For many of them, this is a days’ wages.

All the members’ savings  are re-lent each month to members of their own group.  All loan decisions are made collectively by the group  and all decisions are carefully minuted and careful records are kept of subscriptions, loans borrowings, etc.  Each member has a passbook, which shows her subscriptions  loans and borrowings.

Our mothers proudly show off their passbooks and their record, particularly of savings. Each group manages its own savings and loans but Nandri manages the income generation micro finance program. A mother who wants a micro-finance loan has to apply through her group. Her group will decide if they think she is capable of repaying the loan. The group will guarantee her loan. This peer pressure has insured 99% repayment rate on over 1,500 loans to date.  This is a key factor in the success of our program.

Our impoverished Dalit mothers would not be normally be allowed inside a bank never mind get a loan. Loan interest rates in India could be 2% to 3% per month from a bank and treble that from money lenders.  We charge 1% interest per month on the reducing balance and this has become an important part of the revenue of Nandri to allow the program to continue indefinitely and to ensure the program is properly managed and maintained.  We have developed our own lending application within #Salesforce, which is a corporate level CRM system.

Most of the mothers purchase a cow with their loan and the immediate income from the sale of milk from the cow means they can repay the loan, while also having sufficient money left over for other family purchases and also milk for much-needed family nutrition. They will sell the male calves as Indians don’t generally eat beef. Female calves will go on to become a valuable mother.

Today we have a fund of Rs. 12 million or about $150,000.  $50,000 of this was provided in the form of a grant by #LCIF.    Repayments enable us to issue between 30 and 40 loans every month. The income, in the form of interest and subscriptions, from our mothers, ensures the long-term viability of this program.

Fred Crowe