VILLAGE NAME: Veerapuram
Village Team Members (PGPM): Ankur Chaudhary, Anuj Joshi, Sonali Das, Soumya Sinha (Village Coordinator), Srinivasan R
Village Team Members (PGDM):Harshita Preetam, Inder Deep Singh, Jeetesh Sebastian Irudayaraj (Village Representative), Jivitesh Patra, Karthik Koragappa Bhandary, Surya Murali
The Karma yoga project gives us the unique opportunity of understanding leadership through actual experience. We were sent to our village Veerapuram with the stated objective of increasing self esteem and self efficacy of the villagers. We were supposed to understand the real needs of our villagers through extensive interaction and empower them to achieve it. We had to provide them the means to achieve the end thus in turn increase their confidence in themselves. Our project objective has been to empower villagers in such a way that they
- Are able to achieve their goals through the skills we have imparted- networking, basic negotiation, business skills to a group of youth in our village who were awarded some money by the government to establish their businesses.
- Understand the importance of education in their lives.
- Rise to a better standard of living by spreading awareness of cleanliness and hygiene.
- Realize the importance of healthy living.
When we first went to Veerapuram in the April of 2011 our first impression was of a narrow dusty road flanked by farmland on both sides taking us into the by lanes of this village. This quaint little place with a population of about 2500 was alive with activity on that evening. Girls, dressed in bright Salwar Kurta, had come out to fetch water from the well and men were giving their livestock a bath in the surrounding lake. We found out that the village primary school and a temple under construction beside it were the nerve point, from where all activity of the village flows. We started talking to the villagers to understand their life and the hardships that they faced. We wanted them to trust us and be able to freely communicate with us. After the initial few visits we had identified a few things that we could actually work on to bring a positive change in their lives.
Some of the projects undertaken by us and our seniors through the years are as follows:
A HIV awareness camp was conducted in the village of Veerapuram with Scope International. A health camp was conducted. Candle making, detergent & ink making, selling skills were imparted to villagers. The target group from 5 villages got trained on activities such as candle making, detergent & ink making, selling skills and make a living thereby. 37 people from 5 villages got trained and promised to put the best use of the skills into practice and show us some measurable progress.
A majority of the time was spent understanding the issues faced by these villagers. One major issue that students came across was of lack of basic amenities in the school premises. There were no proper rest room for girls and it was causing them a lot of discomfort and stress. They talked to the school head mistress, who was initially not at all happy about their intruding in school's affair. But when they showed their earnest interest, they won her confidence and went about getting funds for the construction of restrooms in the school compound. Although not an easy task, they were finally able to garner enough support and funds for it to be constructed by the end march 2011.
We started off from where our seniors had left off. While they had worked on improving infrastructure of the school, we focused on improving quality of education that they were receiving. We found out that the children didn't have any extracurricular activity in their school and had no idea about any kind of sports except cricket. They were also very weak in English, math and science. So we first decided to engage the students through Drawing Competition and Sports meet. It was a huge success and the kids became really friendly with us.
After this we started holding Math, science, English and Computer classes. Weekly classes were held wherein they were shown educational videos. We also started a Tamil Nadu Science Forum Science Club to increase awareness amongst kids.
Although we could see our efforts were really helping these kids, we knew it was not a sustainable solution. What would happen after we finish our course here? This led us to work with Eureka Child Foundations. We want to start a tuition center in our village in collaboration with Eureka Child which would provide an all round development for these Children.
In the course of our time spent in Veerapuram, we met Vijay, a second year engineering student. He helped us in all our endeavors and is one of the volunteers for Eureka Child Foundation. He also helped us conduct a Health Camp in collaboration with Rotary Club, Madras West which was very successful. We reached out to over 170 villagers through this camp.
We also spent quite a lot of time in convincing our village panchayat head to re-open the village library which had been closed for about a year and half. With our continued effort he saw the benefits and decided to recruit a librarian. Now the library is open every day during school hours. Road ahead for us would be setting up the Eureka Child Foundation tuition Center as we feel that would provide a long term solution to our problem at hand. We sincerely hope that through our efforts we were able to bring about somechange in the lives of these people.