Reena's Trip to Tamil Nadu
Reena's Trip to Tamil Nadu
Last August I travelled to Tamil Nadu to meet SOTE’s project partners and visit the projects we support. Despite going to India frequently, arriving in India is quite a shock to the system, the number of people, all the colours, smells, the rickshaws and general hustle and bustle provides a constant source of distraction for all the senses!
All our partner projects are in rural areas just outside of Chennai and Bangalore. Because of the proximity, the disparity between urban and rural life is very clear. 903 million people live in the rural areas and account for 68% of the population. The reality is that these people are earning 30-40 rupees (£0.35 - £0.47) a day while a relatively small minority are riding the wave of the Indian economic boom.
We can all do something to change this and this is exactly what our wonderful partners are doing every day, changing people’s lives and trying to support rural communities one step at a time. Our partners have an excellent relationship with communities and involve people from the start, asking what they need and their opinion, as well as of course how things could be done better once projects are implemented.
Alongside the child, village and tree sponsorship, we have kicked off a three-year health project and a programme testing adolescent girls for anaemia. Poor access to healthcare in the villages and the fact that people can’t afford the bus fare to go to the cities mean that women do not go to the doctors or health clinics regularly and so these projects make a big difference. I was fortunate to see a health camp and a cancer screening bus that saw 125 women in one day. Following the results, appointments and transport is provided to any follow up appointments needed.
I was also there to see the new anaemia testing kit. This was suggested by Simon, one of our Trustees, who suggested this equipment as a cost-effective way to get accurate results. Low iron is very common in India and can be treated easily if people are aware of it and so this project will help reduce anaemia and improve the health and energy of many young girls in the community.
A very kind UK sponsor funded a water project at MASARD and I was there for the inauguration, which was a wonderful celebration. Everyone was so happy to be able to get clean water and eagerly wanted to fill up their water cans! Clean water is a basic need and we will continue to do our best to address this through our work.
A final highlight for me was a sharing session between CARE and CRUSADE, two of our partners, that are located just outside of Chennai. We spent the day together and I saw how much knowledge and experience was shared on many different topics, for example, how to deal with the local government, what trees to plant as well as women's self-help groups. I hope that next year we are able to organise a partner forum whereby more of this can be done.
These were just a few of my impressions from my trip. Please do contact us if you would like to see more pictures and hear more about the projects.
Reena Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer