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VILLAGE NAME: Vengampakkam

“Never give the fish, but teach how to fish”. This is the mantra for every karma yogi of Great Lakes. Even we the karma yogi of Poonthandalam Village started our leadership experiential program with the same mind-set. We were full of enthusiasm on one hand and on the other anxious to deliver the goods. We planned to do something in the village by which we could increase the self-efficacy and the self-esteem of the villagers. We then divided ourselves into four groups Agriculture, Health, Education & Women Empowerment and started Mission Karma-Yoga.

Team Agriculture:

We started our first initiative in the village on June, organizing an organic farming session with Mrs.Sabita. We then closely followed it up with two farmers, Mr. Dhanabal and Mr.Ramachandran who were interested in pursuing organic farming. We studied their entire supply chain and found that they could greatly improve their bottom line through organic farming. From then on we continuously interacted with them to make sure they practiced organic farming which was both sustainable and profitable. Then in October we again organized an event for the farmers to make them aware the subsidies offered by Tamilnadu government. This event was conducted by Mr. Paranjyothi who is working in agriculture department of the BDO – Thirukazhukundram. He gave many valuable insights to the farmers about the various agricultural schemes of the government which could be availed by the farmers. The farmers were also made aware of the importance of soil testing in their fields.

Team Women Empowerment:

In our village the women’s self-help group was inactive as they were not aware of what a self-help group is and the benefits derived by being part of the group. So, our agenda was to bring awareness among them. For this we took help of Mrs. Ghunabhushanam from Kuzhupanthandalam village who is not only a leader of an active self-help group, but also a successful entrepreneur. We invited her to our village to share her experience about her work and to generate awareness among our village women. This has generated a lot of enthusiasm among the existing self-help group members and they have started to take this initiative seriously.

Team Education:

During our first month we profiled the village youth based on their education and also identified the factors that hindered their interest in education. We were surprised to find that the reason for the decline in interest was due to the sudden halt of a tuition centre that was functioning earlier. The teacher present in the centre had moved to another village. So we persuaded Mr. Sadashivam (civil engineer) a resident of the village to coordinate the tuition centre with back end support from our end. Now we are in touch with TNSF (Tamilnadu Science Forum) to help us establish a science club in our village. The survey that we took recently confirmed a significant increase in the interest in education among the village children. Our goal is to achieve 100% literacy rate among the youth of the village.

Team Health:

Health awareness is the need of the hour for any society. To derive a plan of action for development of health in our village, it was important for us to understand the village surroundings, population and any specific ailments that had occurred in the past. We started our focus on managing the waste disposal in the village, for which we discussed with the village head if a weekly waste carrier could be arranged to avoid piling up of waste. He assured us that he would look into it. To highlight the benefits of waste management we arranged an event, wherein we showed a complete presentation on the current status of the village and how important it was to clean the village. We also included the classification of waste in the presentation and how it helps in better disposal of garbage. The event was a success as the children were motivated to clean the village themselves.

We also organized an eye camp with the help of Dr Gaurishv Kanna from Uma Eye Clinic to eliminate cases of Cataract in our village. The Eye Clinic team appreciated our efforts in organising such a successful event and promised to associate with us in the future. The identified Cataract patients will be taken to Chennai by the Uma Eye Clinic officials for surgery. The dates are being finalised through discussions with the villagers and the eye clinic officials. We are also planning to conduct a Health camp for the villagers in the month of January.

This Karma Yoga project has always been a win-win deal where we are able to learn in practice the importance of transformational leadership by making the villagers take pride in themselves.