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Kadambadi has a population of three thousand five hundred, with close to two hundred pucca houses, and a thousand people having voting rights. It is located in Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu and is roughly 5 kms from our college. The village is a Tamil Nadu government recognized tourist spot and the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation has allocated separate funds for improving tourism in the village. Agricultural activity in the village is slowly dying due to poor and uncertain profitability. People have started shifting to labour and daily wages work. There is a primary Tamil medium school in the village; however students have to travel to other places such as Mahabalipuram and Thirukazhunkundram for higher education.

The previous batch had done an excellent job in establishing a smooth and credible relationship with the villagers. As we started our project, the objective was to take the relationship forward and build on it. The objective of the leadership experiential project is to gain practical experience in influencing skills; inducing a change in the mind-set and thought process of the people and improve their self-efficacy and self-esteem.

The first phase of our project was focussed on relationship building. The team was split according to the regional areas. From the villagers’ point of view, the transition from the old batch to the new batch was sudden and it was necessary to establish the initial trust and overcome the feeling of alien-ness with the villagers. It was easier to start with the children and help out with their education. Once we got involved with their parents, we got to know a lot about their life and identified areas where we could contribute and thereby learn a lot.

We have organised ourselves into four functional teams.

Education team:

The team works closely with the primary school. We have selected few students from the 6th, 7th and 8th classes with the help of the school HM. We educate them specifically for talent exams. This programme will change their thought process at a granular level. We also encourage them to impart it to the rest of their class. We are also working closely with the HM to establish a culture at the school where education will be practical and based on common sense

SHG team

The team has made great steps in establishing close working relationships with the self-help groups. We met with the SHG head and understood its formation, purpose, financials and benefits. We took them to the KVK organisation which provides professional guidance to SHGs. We also educated them on the basics of banking and in turn the SHG leads spread the information to the rest of the village.

Health team

The health team is closely working with the village President to bring awareness to the village about possible health hazards. The poor garbage disposal and seasonal problems are stressed upon. Recently, we conducted a health camp, using our associations with the nearby medical institute, exclusively for school children as the children are the ones who are not entirely capable of identifying health problems on their own. Permission was obtained from the educational officer. At least three children were identified with the need for special treatment. The teachers were educated on the basic steps of identifying health problems in children.

Environment team

The environment team has been building awareness related to garbage disposal. We conducted an environment camp at a common meeting place and we used competitions to stimulate thinking. The team is currently working on Kitchen gardening with the village leaders realising its importance. From the Health camp, we identified the nutrients that school children generally are deficient in and we arranged for the quality seeds of plants with high content of those nutrients.

Finally the activities are just the means to learn about leadership, team work and interpersonal communication skills. 75% of team, with no local knowledge, overcome the language barrier to influence the villagers. The team has learnt to leverage each other’s strengths to form a collective strength and filling out any weakness. We have started to appreciate self-discipline, goals & milestones and more importantly effective goal communication. We also learned to manage conflicts of interest and motivation skills. The Karma Yoga experience has been enriching in every way possible