Jul 9, 2020

Our outreach efforts pay off, if not yet in the way we'd hoped

Greetings --

I hope you have been managing ok and staying strong during the pandemic, which has had a devastating effect on Tamil Nadu.  Many farmers, roadside vendors and beggars, daily-wage workers -- even sex workers -- have seen their income evaporate, and have been struggling to survive. 

Luckily,  several generous grants received with the assistance of Friends of the Third World, an awesome response from our GlobalGiving supporters, and the aid of our devoted and heroic volunteers have made it possible for us to provide rice and groceries to feed 900 families in need for a month, and support from local partners further enabled us to provide at least a biscuit and often a hot meal to many more who would have otherwise have had nothing to eat for the day.

For the differently abled and their families, this time has been especially trying, since their options were already severely limited.  Because of our outreach efforts to identify these families, our relief efforts were able to include emergency rations for the households of 208 differently abled people in Siruganur, C.R. Palayam, Tirupattur, M.R. Palayam, Sanamangalam, Sridevimangalam, and Maniyakurichi.

Of course there is much left to do, and we have been scrambling to find the funds to do it.  Please view our GlobalGiving COVID-19 relief project for more information and an opportunity to donate, if you can.

Although all our staff have been stretched thin trying to keep up, we have not lost sight of problems for the differently abled looming on the horizon.  While schools are shut down, children from wealthier families have had the digital resources and parental support to keep from falling too far behind in their studies, but differently abled children from resource-poor families may not have previously even been able to attend school, or had trouble keeping up if they did, widening still further the ever-growing gap between the haves and have-nots.

We know from our outreach that the 120 kids who would be helped by this project -- and in particular the three kids who would be helped by our new microproject -- are just a small fraction of Trichy's differently abled.  But helping just one child at a time get ready to attend school when it reopens in the fall is the first step in the never-ending journey towards equal opportunity for all.

We hope you'll join us along the way.  Even if you can't do more than just share our project on social media, we are always deeply grateful for whatever help you can offer.

Take care --

Janet Preethi

Jul 7, 2020

Much accomplished, much still to be done

We were thrilled last month to receive a generous grant from GlobalGiving's Disaster Relief fund to support our emergency relief activities.  We were able to purchase and distribute a month’s worth of rice and groceries to 506 families in Trichy and to send funds to our partners to purchase and distribute rations for 494 families further afield.

The residents of VOICE Trust’s Friendship Home for parentless and at-risk children received, assembled and packed the relief rations in cloth bags printed with the names of supporting organizations, for distribution as follows:

* Groceries for 75 families of to tribals and the landless labourers were distributed by Shine TREEchy 
* Groceries for 100 refugee families and household afflicted by HIV/AIDS were distributed by Manitham Organization 
* VOICE Trust staff and volunteers distributed rations to:

  • 25 families of sex workers who had assembled in Siruganur Police Station for counseling (dispensed through the Inspector on duty) 
  • 73  families daily-wage workers in Gandhi Nagar in Konalai Village 
  • 208 differently abled individuals in Siruganur, C.R. Palayam & Tirupattur
  • barbers, sweepers and cleaners around the VOICE Trust offices
  •  25 families in Kondaimpattai 

We also transferred fund to our partners to distribute relief goods as follows:

  • To Kalai Pattarai for 144 families of Ekkatuthangal in Chennai
  • to the WEEDS NGO for 130 widows in Tuticorn District and 120 daily-wage families in the Kannyakumari District. 

Distribution activities were accompanied by an explanation of safety measures needed to control the COVID virus, and all beneficiaries promised to wear masks, use hand sanitizers and keep their home surroundings clean.

LOOKING FORWARD

The need continues to be great, since the COVID Lockdown, though loosening, continues to deprive thousands of their regular income.    

While we continue to need support for emergency rations, we are also in need of funding for long-term economic recovery to help us provide:

  • Seeds for sowing when the new agricultural season starts in August 2020 
  • Organic manure and biological pest repellents 
  • Goats for widows
  • Tailoring jobs for women 
  • Cash grants to trade enterprises in afflicted sectors

We are deeply grateful for GlobalGiving’s support, without which starvation or suicide would likely have claimed many lives and many more would have been anguished by hunger and despair.   With their help, we provided 900 families with confidence and hope, freed from fear as to where their next meal would come from.

But this is just the start of a long and difficult struggle to provide for the resource poor of Tamil Nadu and to help them start earning an income again.

With your help, we will get through this!

With gratitude for your past support, 

Janet Preethi

waiting to receive rations
waiting to receive rations
distribution
distribution

Links:

Jun 29, 2020

Planting the seeds of a strong recovery

It has been six months since the Gaja Cyclone slammed into Tamil Nadu with winds that blew down more than 100,000 banana and coconut trees that had farmers depended on for their livelihoods.  Although we were able to provide immediate emergency relief after the storm hit, we were not able to receive the funds you had generously donated until recently, due to GlobalGiving’s temporary inability to disburse funds to Indian Banks.  But, as we reported in April, we were finally able to partner with a fiscal sponsor in the US who could receive the funds and transfer them to us.

But by then the COVID crisis had changed everything.  For a while, we could focus on nothing but getting food to people who were starving because of the lockdown.  

Once we were finally able to begin work on tree planting, we realized that our plan to conduct workshops on the permaculture concept of magic circles was no longer viable, because of the distance the farmers would have to travel to attend them and the close proximity in which they have to be seated.  So instead, we purchased 1000 coconut tree saplings, which could be distributed individually.  

We purchased a hybrid Tall and Dwarf (T&D) variety that will also fruit more rapidly and more abundantly than the Tall variety, to provide a quicker road to economic recovery, while having a stronger resistance to environmental stresses, such as drought and diseases, than the Dwarf varieties.

The saplings were distributed to 600 families in the Pudukottai District, 100 families in the Thanjavur District, 200 Families in the Nagappatinam District and 100 Families in the Trichy District, based on the recommendations of local leaders.  

Village leaders also helped to distribute the saplings and to explain simple sustainable practices that would help the trees thrive, such as recycling wastewater to keep the soil moist, and recycling vegetable and other biodegradable wastes for manure and mulch.

The families we have been able to help are a small fraction of those still struggling to recover.  If you are able to afford another small donation, just $10 buy a sapling that will provide comfort and hope as well as support for one of the devastated villagers who feel that they have been forgotten in the wake of the COVID crisis.  If you prefer not to donate online, there are many other ways you can give.

But whether you are able to give anything additional or note, please feel proud of having helped the beneficiaries in these photos and many more like them.

Gratefully, 

Janet Preethy

 
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