IOI - International Ocean Institute (Anawim)

Project Brief: Anawim is dedicated to the socio-economic development of coastal Dalit villages. Together with Asha, Anawim has set up eight Asha Junior Centers to provide educational support and enrichment activities for the children in these villages.
Project Type: Community Awareness Programs (description)
Primary Focus: to go to formal school (description)

Secondary Focus: creating resources

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: Seattle
Status: completed - requirements ended
Project Steward: Tara Bhandari
Project Partner(s): John Sekar
Other Contacts:
Project Address: , Anawim Trust - 1/497, Shanthi Nagar,Veerapandianpattinam, Tirunelvelli Road,,,
TAMIL NADU  628 216
Tel: 4639-245122
Stewarding Chapter: Seattle
Dec 2005Silicon ValleyUSD 1056
Aug 2004St. LouisUSD 3500
Jul 2004Silicon ValleyUSD 1000
Jul 2004SingaporeINR 21000
Jun 2004NYC/NJUSD 3000
Feb 2004NYC/NJUSD 1000
Dec 2003St. LouisUSD 1000
May 2003SeattleUSD 1200
Dec 2003St. LouisUSD 7000
Dec 2003NYC/NJUSD 5000
Dec 2002BerkeleyUSD 6000
Dec 2002SeattleUSD 5000
Dec 2002Silicon ValleyUSD 3000
Dec 2002StanfordUSD 7000
Dec 2001Boston/MITUSD 2500
Dec 2001SeattleUSD 3500
Dec 2001Silicon ValleyUSD 3000
Dec 2001Work an HourUSD 5500
Dec 2000Boston/MITUSD 2575
Dec 2000SeattleUSD 2500
Dec 2000Work an HourUSD 5500

Total = $70288.8

Asha Junior Centers, dedicated to the education and all-round development of children, have been set up in 8 Dalit villages in the Tuticorin district – Ganesapuram, Kulashekarapattinam, Kurangantattu, Mangalwadi, Melatonipalem, Nathakulam, Thaneerpandal, and Valasubramaniapuram.

Dalits are members of a low caste in India (the “untouchables”), who have historically been subject to severe discrimination. In recent times, the treatment of Dalits has improved, but they still have limited opportunities and poor access to education. Dalit children in this district are generally first-generation learners, often have to walk many miles to attend government schools, and cannot afford the private tutoring classes that most other students attend.

The Asha Junior Centers, consisting of a small building with a teacher, books, toys, and other resources, are essentially supplementary education and enrichment centers that the children attend before and/or after school. However, they have provided so much value to the children’s and parents’ lives that they often become the focal point of the villages. The Asha Junior Center buildings themselves are constructed based on an innovative design by Lawrie Baker, which maximizes eco-friendliness while minimizing construction costs. The centers may have gardens tended by the students and provide nutritional supplements (e.g., spirulina, an edible and nutrient-rich algae considered a modern wonder-food).

The Asha Junior Centers also involve an innovative program intended to allow the project to eventually become self-sustaining.

Specifically, each Asha Junior Center is associated with a village women’s group, which is responsible for running the center and which meets regularly to discuss various topics. The women’s group, and the inter-village federation of women’s groups, provides women in the region with a platform to air their thoughts and concerns. To provide additional empowerment, Asha provides initial capital for a microcredit program which is run by the women’s group and allows the village women to take low-interest loans to fund their own enterprises. Income-generating activities that women in this area undertake include making and selling palm-leaf mats and coconut thatch, the retailing of soap and other consumer goods, opening small retail shops, selling snacks and other food items, etc. As the women pay interest on their loans and as new loans are made, the capital in the microcredit fund grows. It is expected that in about 3 years after the initiation of such a fund, the funds generated by this capital will be sufficient to fund the ongoing costs of the Asha Junior Center, allowing the center, in conjunction with the women’s group, to attain economic autonomy. In fact, 2 of the 8 centers that Asha has funded have already become self-sufficient.
1) To provide the children with access to education and support in their educational endeavors

2) To provide these children with additional enrichment opportunities, including environmental awareness and conservation programs, cultural activities, and even computer courses

3) To empower women in the villages, help them to form a network (within a village and across villages), and give them to opportunity to engage in income-generating activities

4) To attain self-sustainability of the project via the microcredit program

5) To set up Asha Junior Centers in 40 Dalit villages in this region, to create a very visible “proof of concept” and serve as a model that others can replicate
The Anawim Trust (“Anawim”) has been working for the socio-economic development of Dalit villages in Tiruchendur Taluk of the Tuticorin District in Tamil Nadu since it was founded in 1994. Anawim began by setting up small tuition centers and providing loans to the women in these primarily coastal villages. Soon thereafter, one of the board members of Anawim, John Sekar, had a fortunate meeting with Prof. Rajagopalan of The International Ocean Institute (“IOI”). The two decided to collaborate and to take the project to the next level with the support and funding IOI could provide.

IOI, Operational Centre (India) (“IOI India”) at IIT Madras is a division of the Foundation for Sustainable Development. This foundation is a Trust set up in August 1998 by IIT Madras in partnership with the International Ocean Institute (“IOI”), Malta. IOI is a global NGO working to promote awareness, research, consultancy, training and education for the sustainable use of the oceans and the development of the poorer coastal communities. IOI India has been functioning at IIT Madras since 1993.

Anawim and IOI India have been working together for at least 5 years in 40 coastal villages. Initial funding for this “Eco-Villages Project” has come from GTZ of Germany, the Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE) and Child Relief and You (CRY).

Anawim implements the projects at the field level. It will continue to spearhead this effort with continued support and research information from IOI and Prof Rajagopalan.