I’m going to forward to you an appeal for donations from Vanavil Foundation in Nagapattinam, TN. (next)
When I travelled in TN after the tsunami in 2004, I ran into a film-maker called Revathi doing relief and cleanup work (when I first met her, she was helping pick up and burn bodies — awful and incredibly hard work). Later she found several kids from the Adhiyan “tribe” — a nomadic community viewed with suspicion by most people — begging at the Nagapattinam bus stand. Their homes had been destroyed by the wave.
Revathi tried to get them into the local school system. The other students and the teachers did not want these kids in school. They would hit and abuse them: “shit-eaters” is one of the more endearing terms they had to endure. Naturally, the Adhiyan children did not want to stay in these schools where nobody wanted them anyway.
In the end, Revathi realized the only option was to set up a school for the kids herself. Dipping into her savings and tapping her network of friends, she established a trust, rented a house in Nagapattinam and got going. She called it Vanavil, which means “rainbow” in Tamil.
I visited the school in 2005 and found it overrun with lively, friendly, inquisitive, and yes, sometimes unruly kids. But there were also several young women teaching them, and the kids were gradually learning, taking an interest in their education. Over the years, several children have graduated and gone on to college. Revathi gave up her film-making career to run the school full-time. Wipro built them a campus in a village 9km from Nagapattinam.
Funds are, though, always a problem. That’s why this appeal. It lists the specific items they need and you can choose which ones you want to pay for.
Please consider contributing to whatever extent you can. Trust me, this is a remarkable and sincere effort. Thanks!
(Note: this current fundraising effort has ONE day left to run).