The Kattanchimalai Story

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Kattanchimalai, 35 km from Coimbatore, is a tribal village with a population of 85 people, all living in extreme poverty. The village lacked basic amenities such as electricity and toilets; open fields served as their toilets and roofless make-shift sheds, their bathrooms. Such disastrous conditions made them vulnerable to life-threatening risks such as being bitten by poisonous insects or snakes, besides making it unhygienic for the villagers. Children dropped out of school due to health issues. In short, their lives were literally in the dark until Rotary intervened.

Under the ‘Happy Villages’ project, RC Coimbatore Cybercity, D 3201, adopted the village in July 2014.

Project Chair Rtn R ­Sounderrajan and Director of Community Service Rtn D Elangovan visited the village and with generous contributions from the club members, various projects were begun, ushering in better facilities for the villagers. The club built separate toilet blocks for men and women. Three toilets and a bathroom, complete with electricity and water facilities, were provided in each block.

The Rotarians lit up the entire village with solar-powered street lights and solar lamps for the houses, amidst great cheer from the locals. “We can now do so many things even by nightfall and we need not race against time to complete our chores by daylight,” said one of the villagers joyfully.

We can now do so many things even by nightfall and need not race against time to complete our chores by daylight.

The Rotarians have also formed a Rotary Community Corps (RCC) team drawing people from diverse fields to monitor the development of tribal children’s education and their welfare and to mentor the people on sanitation, personal hygiene and health. Alex Raj, an engineer, is in charge of the RCC team.

One of the RCC members is the tribal head Kali, who is also a Ward Councillor. He says theirs is a very old tribe which lived atop the hills surrounding this region. “Hunting and agricultural farming were our prime occupation and due to water scarcity and to safeguard our family from wild animals, our ancestors moved to the plains. Our people now work as daily wage labourers and take up ­agricultural jobs in coconut plantations in nearby villages as none of us are educated or own any land. Our village was totally neglected and it is very fortunate to be adopted by the Club.”

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Club President S S Muthukumar says, “We emphasise on the community’s welfare and their children’s education. We are planning to arrange vocational training for the women in various arts and handicrafts and sell the products in exhibitions and fairs conducted by Rotary clubs or other organisations. Thereby the women too can support their families through the income generated.”

Commending the endeavours of the Club on his visit to the village DG P Venugopalan Menon said, “It is wonderful to note what Rotary can do for the well being of the underprivileged tribal community and we shall continue our efforts in this direction.”

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