With the river Kaveri running alongside, my drive to Society for Poor People Development (SPPD) at Kulithalai village was more than picturesque.Tragically, Kulithalai is categorised as dry land and migration is high. The lives of kids are affected due to the absence of one or more parents who move to close by towns or cities in search of work.
I see a red-bricked building covered in creepers up ahead. There are two wells one in the front and one at the back where rain water is harvested. This is the SPPD office and centre.
Later we drive further into Musiri village where SPPD runs an evening center (after school tuition) for the kids from Grades 5 to 8, who study in the government school. Apart from this centre, SPPD runs four more at other locations. Every year, kids (30 per centre) are selected, based on their financial condition (monthly income less than Rs.1000), by the headmaster of the school. These childrenremain in school after hoursfor extra classes.
Tutors are appointed from the villages itself. The tutors go through an assessment test and are trained. Each tutor must have a basic qualification of Grade 12 and is assessed by the organization every two months.
Kids are put into three groups to make the teaching focus more effective. Level 1 consists of extremely poor students, Level 2 are average and Level 3 are bright enough to work independently with a little guidance.
Tutors use activity kits to make the learning fun and interesting for the kids. The organization also provides sports equipment and nutrition to these kids.
“More than school, tuition is fun. And I can recollect everything I learn even after reaching home,” adds Rajkumar. His parents are labourers and have no regular income.
Apart from distributing nutrition kits, SPPD conducts awareness camps for people infected by HIV/AIDS that help them lead a normal life. It has also formed SHGs in these villages and taught people to learn and teach each other. Making them self-dependent and confident, yet teaching them to live and support each other, is the goal.
“My husband died four years after my marriage. I never knew he had HIV until I got married. He left me with three kids to bring up alone. I am infected with the virus too. I have a daughter and two sons. Thankfully none of them are infected. I get some work as a labourer. Often I used to feel depressed and scared about how I would manage. I started to attend the awareness camps by SPPD. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t alone …there are many people like me. All of them are affected but are moving ahead to the best of their ability. It gives me confidence and hope. The nutrition kits help me provide better nutrition to my children,” said one woman. “I too get nutritional kits and my family is greatly benefited,” adds another beneficiary. Both wished to remain anonymous due to the stigma of their disease.