Just before Christmas we received a box of over 1000 Christmas cards from India. it’s a huge logistical job for our partner in India because the children attend over 200 different schools as far apart as Dundalk to Cork (200 miles). And it takes twice as long in India to travel the same distance.
In November 2014 we concluded the purchase of 2 acres of land near Chetpet, Tamil Nadu. This land is within 10 minutes walking distance from our Nandri farm, which in December 2013 was leased for 10 years.
Since the charity started in 1996 we have probably spent over €2 million on houses, schools, medical dispensaries, toilet facilities and clean water bore wells and many other miscellaneous projects. During that time our office staff and fieldworkers have moved from one unsatisfactory rented accommodation to another.
Finally, we will build a rural development centre which will provide a solid foundation for us in India through our partner Child Aid Trust. We already provide services for almost 2000 families, through our various programmes, including child sponsorship, mothers self-help groups, micro-finance income generation and medical programmes. We are developing a range of agricultural training programs at our Nandri farm. Our new rural development centre will provide accommodation for mothers who are being trained.
The RDC will have a reception area for the many mothers who visit us every day. It will have a medical room to attend to basic medical needs. There will be office accommodation for our office staff and a meeting room for our office and fieldworkers. We also expect to have volunteer accommodation and a large and small training room. There will be catering facilities for the hundreds which we expect to attend our training courses.
The RDC should enable us to double the number of families we are serving within the next three years. All this is only being made possible by a small number of donors who have made substantial donations.
We are currently reviewing plans with a local architect and hope to begin building in February 2015
Mrs Thilagavathi is one of our 1500 mothers, who meet every month in our 100+ self-help groups. She has a son who is being educated thorough the child sponsorship programme. Two years ago it was very difficult for her to maintain her family and to keep her son in education.
Now things are changed with the help of NANDRI. What was NANDRI’S role?
In 2013, she joined a mothers self group. Although she was in dire situation, she had the talent to stitch and sew . From the mothers group she received Rs. 5,000/- (€75) as group loan and bought two tailing machines “second hand”. she started her business to earn money.
Later she got a micro finance loan from NANDRI, Rs. 20,000/- (€250) and bought two more machines to sustain her life. Now it was a great success after her hard work. Per month she is able to generate easily Rs. 4500/- to 5500/- through her work.
She is able to pay rent for the shop Rs. 2000/- and repaying the loan Rs. 1000/- and also managing to get provision for her food and lastly sustaining the child in education.
Also she is teaching 10 poor children and through which she gets around Rs. 1000/- which is also useful to her savings. Above all she has the interest and determination to teach tailoring to poor children freely. Hence she has asked the field workers to bring the children so that the children will be taught. She is really proud to be part of the NANDRI family and grateful to her sponsors.
Nandri.org is an Irish charity also called a not for profit organisation. All of the funds we raise are distributed through an Indian registered trust near Vellore in Tamil Nadu. We mainly work with Dalit and Dhobi communities. Although the local motto is “need not creed”.
Our objective is the education of children and the improvement of the living standards of our client mothers. We use micro-finance for income generation projects and various other programmes including child sponsorship, mothers’ self-help groups, training and health.
In December 2013 we seized an opportunity to rent 10 acres of land. This land had reasonable water supply, but had not been utilised to its full due to lack of capital. We reckoned that with a small amount of investment in infrastructure and stock, this could turn into a profitable farm. We were right. We are well on the way to covering the operating costs of our partner in India, ensuring that more of our money is use on our projects.
Almost a year later, we have built the infrastructure, including a building for cows who, unlike Irish cows don’t like the rain. It doesn’t rain very much, but when it rains, it comes down very heavy. We have a number of units to house chicks which will later become free range organic chickens for the tables of Chennai. We have 3 acres in rice paddy and the rest in groundnuts or peanuts and feed for our cattle.
Our 21 cows are now producing regular income from the sale of milk. All our feed is organic so we ultimately hope to get a premium price and milk prices are increasing anyway in India. We will sell our male calves normally at six months to a year old. Very little beef is consumed in India as cows are regarded as sacred. Our female calves will become mothers so we can increase our herd and our income.
We built some units to house three day-old chicks which need to be kept in a constant temperature. Electricity is not a guarantee in India, so we have invested in solar panels to ensure a constant temperature. The solar panels are also used to provide electricity for lighting and for water pumps. Once the chicks are three weeks to a month old they are then allowed to run round in a fenced area, but free to eat the plants and insects. We have entered into a partnership with the company in Chennai to market our organic free range chickens or country chickens as they are called in India.
We intend to set up a number of our 1500 mothers with small chicken units. We will provide them with feed, housing, fencing and 100 three week old chicks which we will then buy back at four months old. This will provide these mothers with an income. We intend to operate the same system with a number of local orphanages, which will also provide them with an income.
We also created a large fish pond and stocked it with 2000 fish. We have 250 ducks and through the miracles of nature the residue from the ducks is eaten by the fish who in turn produce residue which ends up as food for the ducks. I am an accountant, so I don’t really understand these things, but it works and we have income from duck eggs and soon fish, without much costs.
We currently have about 3000 chicks and once we have mastered the production of organic free range chicken we will increase our numbers. Shortly we will be running training programs for our mothers in how best to look after their cows and chickens. We are in the process of acquiring land close to the Nandri farm where we hope to build a rural development centre. This will have training rooms, sufficient space for a constant stream of visiting mothers. Accommodation for volunteers and of course, office accommodation for our staff.
Overall, this is turning out to be a successful programme. We are making a profit for us and others. We are providing products for our client mothers to sell. We are also providing training. We will be pleased when the profit we make will cover the operating costs so that we can focus on diverting all of our money to our programmes.
This is an another interesting story that Nandri is doing that it not only financially supports mothers but also give social awareness that they should keep the surrounding neat and clean.
Angelammal has two children namely Santhosh Verma studying 9th Standard and Akash in 4th standard. Santhosh is in Children sponsorship programme . Their father who was a coolie, (a daily labourer), died three years ago. Thereafter Mrs Angelammal settled in her mother’s house without any job. And the life became very difficult for her without the basic necessities to look after her two beloved children.
At that time we supported her through micro-finance income generation Loan with Cheque of Rs.20,000/- to buy a sewing machine. With this sewing machine she had repaid her loan and now she is maintaining her family.
To add to her dismay, three months ago, her brother banished mrs Angelammal from the mother’s house where she was staying with her brother due to a small quarrel. And now she lives in a rented house.Widows have a very difficult time in India. In many cases where a mother and her children are living with the father’s family and if he dies, they can be removed from the house.
She earns through this tailoring machine around Rs.3000/- and when there is village festival or other auspicious days such as “Diwali” – ‘festival of light’ she may earn Rs. 3,000/- to Rs. 6,000/- exceptionally and thus the amount she gets from the sewing machine, she pays her house rent Rs. 1,000/- and Rs. 2,000/- for provision, food and other expenses. And now she thanks NANDRI whole heartily for its support.
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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.
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.