Thirupper is located in the deep interiors of Thiruvallur District near the Poondi reservoir in Tamil Nadu. A group of Rotarians travelling to the venue for the event almost got lost on their way, before finding the village.
Past RI President Kalyan Banerjee gave the ‘happy villagers’ the precious gift of the key to their own spanking new homes and appreciated the efforts taken by the District Rotarians for reaching out to the poor in remote places. “In these far-away, neglected areas, there is an urgent need for community service which is fulfilled by Rotary through such projects,” he said.
Stressing on providing basic necessities and building low-cost shelters, he said, “The rural populations live without a roof over their head and providing them shelter through new homes is the need of the hour.”
Under a matching grant, RC Chennai Thiruvanmiyur (RCCT) obtained approximately $25,000 for building homes for the villagers. Under the first phase of the ‘Happy village’ project, 13 low-cost shelters (LCS) were constructed and handed over to the beneficiaries. Each LCS comprises one bedroom with a kitchen platform, shelves and a toilet outside. A light and fan were also provided.
“Even though the Poondi reservoir is located 3 km from here, the village folk did not have access to clean drinking water,” said President of the club K Venkatraman. Water and literacy being Rotary’s key focus areas, the Rotarians constructed a water tank, a bore well and also provided a water pump for the village.
In these far-away, neglected areas, there is an urgent need for community service which is fulfilled by Rotary through such projects.
The club plans to build 15 more houses in the next phase. The future plans include construction of a library, community centre with toilets and an organic kitchen garden.
Services rendered at the ‘Happy village’
The Rotary Club of Chennai Thiruvanmiyur adopted Thirupper village in the year 2010. About 40 tribal families live here and did not have basic shelter, education and sanitation facilities and were living in abject poverty.
Initially, an adult literacy programme was conducted and the participants were offered three kg rice as an incentive to attend the class. At the end of the programme the students were able to sign their names and read bus and train routes.
They were also taught how to open bank accounts and helped to obtain ration cards, voter ID, etc. Toilets were built, schools renovated and the children were given school uniforms, bags and notebooks.
A vocational training programme was implemented for the tribal women of this village. Tailoring classes were conducted and seven sewing machines were made available with the help of a senior club member, Rtn Viswanathan, who has been donating sewing machines every year. The women make paper bags and boxes that add to their weekly income.
Medical camps were conducted at the village including a general health check-up camp, gynaecology consultation camp, dental camps and eye camps where 50 cataract operations were done and spectacles donated.
Pictures by Varsha Makhija