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About the village

Kothimangalam is situated in Tirukalukundram tehsil, Kancheepuram district of Tamil nadu. It is one of 102 villages in Tirukalukundram Block along with villages like Edaiyur and Puliyur. Total population of this village is around 2074 with male and female population in almost equal numbers. Kothimanglam consists of three parts: Irular, Narikurever and MGR Nagar.

Summary of our village activities:

Our first visit to the village was on 19th May, 2013. We explored the village and met with some of the families. We were excited about the experiential learning project and interacted with people from different parts of the village.

Educational initiatives

We observed that people in the village including the school going children could interact only in Tamil. This was a problem which we decided to address by conducting English classes for them. We divided the children into two groups: those below class V and those from class V to class X, so that we could give them relevant knowledge according to their age. We started organizing the classes in MGR Nagar. Initially the focus was only on teaching them English and improving their spoken English skills, but as we started interacting with the students, we discovered their interests in dance and music; hence we also organized dance classes once in a while.

For Narikeruvar, we held the classes separately in the Don Bosco Gypsy School. We taught them through videos and music and we also took the help of a nun who works for the tribal people residing in the Narikeruvar area.

We organized various activities in the village to sensitize people about the environment and the importance of utilizing the resources around them with care. We organized a painting competition for children with different themes on multiple occasions. On earth day, the theme was about theenvironment, on Independence Day, it was about India. We organized elocution competitions for the children and encouraged them to actively take part in it.

We interacted with Arun, a student in the local polytechnic college and a resident of Kothimanglam. We found that the students of his college need help in order to increase their employability. So we decided to start soft skills classes for them in collaboration with the management of the college. The students were very excited and the activity was of great help to them.

On Literacy Day, 8th September, 2013, we organized a computer class for the children and made them understand the basic operations of a computer. Later, with the help of Tamil Nadu science forum, we organized a learning activity for the children in the school. In the future we look to establish a long term relationship with Tamil Nadu Science Forum, so that our villagers can derive the utmost benefit out of it. All these activities strengthened our relationship with the children.

Health initiatives

To further improve our ties with the village elders, we decided to conduct a health camp for them. We discussed the various problems they were facing and made a list of them. People were excited and our excitement doubled seeing their enthusiasm. We took up the responsibility of making it happen and we were successfully able to organize a health camp for the villagers on Sunday, 8th December, 2013. This health camp was supposed to be beneficial for the villagers but truly speaking, it was more beneficial for us. It was a great experience- handling the logistics, taking care of the villagers coming for the check up and assisting the medical team making it memorable for a lifetime.

We do not know to what extent we were able to empower the villagers or make an impact on their lives; but one thing is for sure that we share a beautiful relationship with the Kothimanglam people and these villagers share a special place in our hearts. There is a lot which we learn from them and this learning could have come only through Karma Yoga experiential project. It made us relate our management learnings with the ground realities to provide a holistic educational experience for all of us.