Vanvasi Ashram Trust

Project Brief:
Project Type: Non-Formal Educational Centers (description)
Primary Focus: children of dalits/tribals (description)

Secondary Focus: to go to formal school

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: Stanford
Status: Support ended.
Project Steward: Kavitha Srinivasan
Project Partner(s): Appanu Nambiar
Other Contacts: Hari Kannan
Project Address: , Vanavasi Ashram,P.O. Periyar,Kerala,
KERALA  670 644
Tel: 91-4935-260422 (school), 91-98
Stewarding Chapter: Stanford
Dec 2011StanfordUSD 5730
Oct 2010StanfordUSD 6682
May 2007Silicon ValleyUSD 17500
Sep 2006Silicon ValleyUSD 11990
Sep 2006StanfordUSD 5000
Feb 2006Silicon ValleyUSD 6750
Feb 2006StanfordUSD 1500
Dec 2006AtlantaUSD 4250
Jul 2005StanfordUSD 1500
Jul 2005Silicon ValleyUSD 6750
Dec 2003Work an HourUSD 12900
Dec 2003StanfordUSD 2150
Dec 2002Silicon ValleyUSD 14583
Dec 2002Work an HourUSD 12900
Dec 2001Silicon ValleyUSD 6500
Dec 2001StanfordUSD 6500
Dec 2001Work an HourUSD 12900
Dec 2000NYC/NJUSD 2000
Dec 1999NYC/NJUSD 2000
Dec 1998NYC/NJUSD 2000

Total = $142085

Wayanad, a district of Kerala, is considered the most backward district of Kerala. It is the district where backward tribals namely Paniya, Nayikar, Adiyar, Kuruma and Kurrichias are living. They are living with the means which they get from the forest. Some of them are employed in the nearby tea estates. Due to deforestration and settlement of non tribal people here, the tribals are in a critical position. Vanavasi Ashram trust was founded in 1996 by Dr.Appanu Nambiar a retired professor of education and registered on 15th of July 1997 with an objective of uplifting the tribals of Wayanad.

The system of education is almost 'Gurukula', were the students and teachers live together and share their experiences as in a family. The students, teachers and parents work together to grow vegetables, tapioca, banana and pulses. Students are taught stitching, tailoring, basket making, clay modelling, mat making, music, yoga and archery. Computer instruction has also recently started.

Asha Silicon Valley and Asha Stanford joined together to fund the construction of a concrete building for the school. Construction began in the summer of 2001 and was completed in November 2001. Classes are now being conducted in the new building. The curriculum followed in the school is the one prescribed by the Kerala state board of education.

There came a significant change in the community's attitude towards education and health care . The tribal children in the school are treated very well and they are healthy. Children talented in music and folk arts are encouraged to develop their talents by the school.

Asha's funds continued to support students of classes 9th and 10th. Other classes were supported in part by the Govt of India.


After 2007, Asha stopped funding this project due to various reasons. The project was funded by the government. However inspite of government funding the project was always unstable. Government funds were always delayed, sometimes by more than a year and because of this issue, the project couldnt retain the number of children and it slowly kept dwindling. Because the strength reduced, government funding also reduced. Even today, with the current strength of around 200 students, the project budget is more than Rs.20 lakhs due to the residential nature of the school.

As of October 2010, the trust hasnt received government funds for 2009-2010. They have taken huge loans to sustain the project. They have applied for 2010-2011 as well and are still waiting for last year's funding. Some of the teachers have not been paid for 6 months and cannot work with the school any longer if they are not supported.

The proposal came back to us (Stanford) in 2010 with all the same issues. We decided to support the project with the hope of giving them some relief before they can get the government funds. Another major objective of taking up this project is to work with other NGOs to assist in better project management and to help Dr.Nambiar find better stability for this project.
Project contact: Dr. Appanu Nambiar