Village Name: Nallur
“It is true that real Indians live in rural India!”
We say this with our experience and not mere repetition from people around. The culture, for which our nation is most known for is seen in these villages. Nallur, is one such small village just off the East Coast Road and is a 10 minutes’ drive from Great Lakes Campus. It is full of lush green meadows that captivate you as soon as you enter the village and consists of vast open spaces, which we hardly get an opportunity to see in the city. The population of the village is more than 4000. It is the assembly of five small subparts, separated from each other by a small distance but bounded together by the common Panchayat.
We started our journey to the village by familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the village and exploring all the parts of it. This was very helpful for both the village members and us. It ultimately became an ice- breaking activity. From here on the bond between us and the villagers started to build.
We started with teaching the children basic English, Mathematics or any other subject with which they had problems. Children always are very approachable! We continue helping the children with their studies every time we go to the village. The only thing that all the parents of these children say to us is they want their children to study well and get good jobs. Like other parents they too wanted their children to study well and go places. They wanted us to help their children with studies and help them achieve their dreams. More than empowering them, they wanted their children to be empowered. Hence, education is an integral part of our weekly visits.
Teaching wasn’t the main aim of our visits. We conducted events like a drawing competition, a cricket match so as to get to know the villagers better and reduce the gap between us and them. Since language was a barrier for most of us, events like this were helpful in engaging with them. We were continuously in touch with the village head asking him what the village as a whole thinks about our initiatives and if the villagers are able to gain anything worthwhile. To ensure this, we constantly involved him in all the activities we planned in the village.
On 24th August, 2013 the second annual Karma-Yoga convention was held on Great Lakes campus. The Convention was an inclusive platform that brought in together farmers, businessmen, self-help groups, non-governmental organizations, students, local Panchayat leaders and every stake-holder relevant in the rural development schema together under one roof. The objective of the convention was to get selected people from our village to interact with selected people from the other Karma-Yoga villages. This interaction made them aware of what others did in their village and what they could implement in their village.
Our village head enthusiastically took part in the convention and so did the others. Taking the learnings from the convention they shared the same among other village members. Inspired by the speeches and interactions in the convention, their co-operation and support for any activity we planned in the village was guaranteed.
This year we have introduced the concept of a kitchen garden in the village. This involves planting some vegetables in the open unused land around the house and cultivating vegetables which are enough for a family to survive. This will go a long way in increasing the self-esteem of the family as they are able to sustain on their own, eat healthy organic food, reduce dependency and also serve as a means to use garbage in resourceful manner. The villagers’ happiness on seeing the plants grow had no bounds.
It’s not that our work in the village is restricted to these things. In one part of the village there is a student named Sangeetha who is pursuing her engineering. It is unbelievable the way she manages her studies and household work! We also teach her programing when she has problems in her subjects. Thus our activities in the village are quite diversified.
Towards the end of Dec, the implementation of the SLRM (Solid Liquid Resource Management) project has been initiated which shall lead to the complete transformation of the village. Though, right now we are just in the data collection stage. But, we as Karma Yogis believe that it shall be soon be implemented and that too with great success. This shall lead to empowerment of the villagers and employment to all the people in the village.
In this short time with the villagers, we have become very attached to them. It’s a small initiative to help them realize their true potential by increasing their self-confidence and self-esteem, which in return boosts our leadership skills in the real world!