COVID-19  India Project #46195

COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers

by VOICE Trust
COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers
COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers
COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers
COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers
COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers
COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers
COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers
COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers
COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers
COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers

Meet John, one of the farmers your donations helped to produce his own fertilizer from worms.

John’s five-acre farm in Magilambadi, Tamil Nadu, has been in his family for generations.  But his father always had to work as a teacher to supplement the farm income.

After his father’s death, John gave up his career in Mechanical Engineering to devote himself to turning the farm into a self-supporting enterprise.   Because of his passionate commitment to sustainable organic farming, customers would drive hours to buy his vegetables.

Like farmers throughout the region, John was hit hard by India’s lockdown last March, which dried up his markets.  Because he banks his own seeds, he was ready for the next planting, but he still needed to buy fertilizer, whose price has soared during the pandemic.  With the training, supplies, and equipment VOICE Trust provided, he was quickly able to create a rich vermicompost that produced an even healthier and more plentiful crop than the previous season.  

Every farmer’s situation is different, and each requires a unique solution.  A donation to support continuing COVID Recovery for Tamil Farmers will allow them to buy whatever they need most to make their farm thrive.

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making vermicompost
making vermicompost

Happily, infection rates have been plummeting in Tamil Nadu and many restrictions have eased, allowing some businesses to reopen.  But other parts of India have not been so lucky, leaving a patchwork of restrictions of varying severity that makes getting migrant labor or shipping to out-of-state wholesalers a daunting challenge.  Farmers who were plunged into a financial hole last spring, when they were unable to harvest or market much of their produce, are still struggling to save their farms.

We asked some of the farmers we have previously trained in sustainable farming practices what we could do to help, and they told us they needed a source of cheap but rich natural fertilizer.  As a result of COVID disruptions, fertilizer prices have skyrocketed, making purchase impossible for many cash-strapped farmers.  They wanted help creating their own vermiculture compost and azolla manure.

Vermicomposting uses earthworms to break down organic waste, producing even more prolific and nutrient-rich crops than traditional compost.  Manure made from azolla, also called mosquito fern, has been used for centuries as a biofertilizer.  It is another cheap and sustainable way of increasing soil fertility and crop production, and it can be created in as little as a week.  Because it multiplies rapidly, the resulting surplus can be used as livestock feed or sold at a good price, providing a quick source of supplemental income.

Thanks to your donations and a grant from GlobalGiving, we are able to provide 300 farmers in 15 villages containers for vermicomposting and tarpaulin sheets for preparing azolla manure. Because these farmers have already attended our workshops on creating organic fertilizer, they will be able to put these supplies to use right away, without further training.

We are proud to be able to continue helping Tamil Nadu recover economically without having to sacrifice our commitment to working with nature to find earth-friendly solutions to India's most pressing problems.  Since your donations are making this happen, you should feel happy too.

Thank you so much for your support.

the rich, healthy soil it produces
the rich, healthy soil it produces
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As the pandemic drags on, life in Tamil Nadu—and around the world—is settling into a new (albeit more difficult) normal.  Resource-poor communities face continuing challenges driven by both their preexisting living conditions and the unstable nature of their livelihoods.  Voice Trust, empowered by your support, is working hard to ensure that needy persons in Tamil Nadu are able to benefit from whatever help is available to them.

Although India has implemented policies aimed at relieving hardship, there are often knowledge and distribution barriers between aid and deserving recipients.  Back in March, the Indian government announced a COVID-19 aid package that included a financial benefit of Rs 1,000 that could be claimed by impoverished senior citizens, widows, and persons with disabilities.  However, many eligible beneficiaries were unaware of the available relief, or otherwise lacked the means to claim the benefit. 

Victoria, a Voice Trust field staff member who manages our projects to benefit the differently abled, stepped up to use her community advocacy skills in service of COVID-19 relief.  Victoria has worked diligently to ensure that eligible persons are made aware of the Rs 1,000 benefit, provided with explicit instructions on how to make a claim, and assisted as needed with navigating the claim process.  Victoria’s work on this front has been continuous since the relief package was announced, outside of a period during which she herself fell sick with coronavirus.  We are very glad to report that Victoria has recovered well, and is back to work speaking up on behalf of the most destitute.  Aided by Victoria’s heroic community advocacy efforts—supported by your generous donations—more than 9,700 qualified people have been able to access these desperately needed relief funds.

In these unprecedented times, we have been incredibly grateful for your extraordinary generosity, especially from corporate employees. As of this writing, we have received over 65 donations to our COVID-19 relief project, leaving us only $882 away from our goal.  These numbers are exceptionally strong for our organization.  While people around the world are facing uncertainty and additional hardship, your willingness to continue thinking of others is noble and especially impactful.  Your support heartens our staff, and enables tangible, sometimes life-saving relief.

With gratitude,

Janet Preethi

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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.


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


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Beneficiaries collect rations
Beneficiaries collect rations

As the lockdown enters its third month, and the number of infections continue to rise, we have been relentless in our efforts to make sure that no one is left hungry and that rations reach far and wide. 

Boise Tamil Sangam and VOICE Trust decided to work together on plans to assist 300 marginal and tribal families in 15 villages of Manachanallur Block of Trichy. BOISE Tamil Sangam is an alliance of Tamilians who have settled in the USA. We were blessed to receive a generous grant from them and we immediately mobilized our volunteers to organize the distribution.

Our field volunteers put together a package containing 5 kilos of rice, 1 kilo wheat, 1 kilo red gram, 100 grams each of condiments, 1 litre oil, soap, sanitary napkin, salt, 1 kilo sugar, and 100 grams of tea powder, which they distributed to each family of what ended up being 352 families.  

Earlier this month, we distributed biscuits donated by a local bakery to many homeless individuals and hot lunches to manual workers, day wage earners, and street vendors, all of whom otherwise would have little to eat that day.  We have plans to keep repeating the distribution cycle to all the beneficiaries as often as we are able.

All through the distribution activity, police protection was arranged to avoid overcrowding and ensure the safety of beneficiaries as well as our volunteers. Social distancing was strictly followed by issuing tokens to beneficiaries. Only 10 people were called at a time to queue up for rations. The volunteers donned masks and gloves and used disinfectants to protect themselves and everyone around them. 

I think you can proud of the work you helped fund, and of our selfless volunteers.

As always, thanks for your past support and for any future help you can offer.

Stay well -- stay safe -- stay home!

Janet Preethi

Rations assembled for distribution
Rations assembled for distribution
No one is left without food
No one is left without food
A safe social distance keeps everyone safe
A safe social distance keeps everyone safe
This may be their only meal all day
This may be their only meal all day


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Organization Information


Location: Tiruchirpalli, Tamil Nadu - India
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @VOICETrichy
Project Leader:
Janet G. Preethi
Tiruchirpalli, Tamil Nadu India
$9,129 raised of $15,000 goal
130 donations
$5,871 to go
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