Today was the last day of a second fantastic week working with ITWWS, and sadly the last day of my stay. I felt much more settled and part of the team this week.
Yesterday I went out to some of the villages that ITWWS are working with to help Irula people, indigenous Indians who belong to one of the most marginalised communities in the country. I’ve been helping ITWWS put together their website which means I’ve spent a lot of time learning and writing about the difficulties that they face on a day to day basis. Despite that, it was still a shock to see how they live, and how little they really have. I met a 6 year old boy who lives in one of the villages, who has had to drop out of school to look after his younger sisters as both his parents have to work to feed the family. One of the projects that ITWWS runs is providing learning centres in the Irula villages to allow children to continue their education in the evenings if they have to work or look after siblings
during the day. Having seen so many children who can’t go to school, I now realise how important the learning centres are, and also how important education really is, something that’s often taken for granted.
The villages that we visited are areas where ITWWS are helping to build the villagers solid homes. The villagers themselves, both men and women, work together to carry out the construction work, as it not only provides them with employment but it also gives them a sense of owning the houses as they helped to build them.
Also this week, there was a company meeting for ITWWS staff members. I went along for a few hours and although I’ve learnt a few words of Tamil most of it went over my head. However, there was definitely talk of strategies and tactics and plans for the coming year, so it was pretty much like an innocent company meeting only with better weather and fewer bad jokes.
So today it was with a tear in my eye that I had to say goodbye to the team that has looked after me so well for the last 2 weeks. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to live with such a lovely Indian community in rural India, away from the hassles and distractions of the towns and cities. I’ve learnt a lot about ITWWS and the great work that they do so I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone when I get back. They’ve achieved so much already and they should be very proud of themselves.