The village of Neyyattinkara and the smaller villages nearby became KP partners in 2012 and so it was a pleasure to see how the initial projects have been working. The December 2012 newsletter included photographs taken by the recent visiting volunteer (Elizabeth Melling, Cheshire).
The schemes are being well run and are delivering tangible benefits – I know that reads a bit like a Department of Health report, but please be assured it is true! The current projects / schemes are:
– Two ‘pension schemes’ (each for 10 persons / households); 2 villages involved;
– 24 goats given to 24 families; 2 villages involved;
– 2 lots of 15 hens / chickens plus coop given to 2 families; 2 villages involved.
(6 villages are receiving support)
One of the crucial factors that led KP to provide grants to the volunteers is the existence of a strong ‘structure’ that oversees the work of the volunteers in each village. The charitable organisation that oversees the volunteers is called Neyyattinkara Integral Development Society (N.I.D.S.)*see footnote. The NIDS group in each village has a membership which includes volunteers and an elected ‘local Councillor’ (local Panchayath member).
The group is well connected with the local people and knows how to access Government welfare support if possible, as well as efficiently using charitable monies.
KP funds can then be focused on helping to relieve unmet areas of identified need. I visited 3 of the 4 areas and each time I was met by members of the NIDS group who introduced me to some of those who had received KP support. The majority were elderly people – the photos on the ‘gallery’ page show some of the meetings!
As a result of the visits and several discussions with the Director of NIDS and group leaders in the 3 villages visited, it was agreed to provide grants for 5 types of projects in 2013 / 2014 as follows:
- ‘Pensions’ in 4 villages (continue the 2 existing and extend to 2 new villages) – 40 persons / households.
- Chicken project – 15 hens and coop to 1 family in a new village.
- ‘Petty business projects’ **– 9 schemes to be funded. Each scheme will provide the chance for an individual to start their own very modest business for themselves or their family. A grant will be given of approx Rs 5000 (£60) to act as ‘working capital’ and a typical scheme might be to start buying / selling food items. The person would use the ‘working capital’ to go to a main ‘wholesale’ market and purchase (say) vegetables and then transport these back into their own village for resale at a very modest profit. The ‘profit’ would be enough to cover the persons own food / daily living costs. The person uses the ‘working capital’ to do the same thing the next day and so on.
Many tears ago KP ran a ‘micro-credit’ / community Bank scheme in which the grant was repayable over a one-year period; I talked with NIDS about that approach but for the moment the level of management and supervision needed to ensure recovery of the loan sum is more than the volunteers can provide. The volunteers will select the recipients of these ‘petty business’ grants with care to make sure each person is well placed to keep their chosen initiative / business going, and the volunteers may well select those who are receiving currently a ‘pension’, and so freeing up a pension payment for someone else.
** I checked with the volunteers how they would spell ‘petty business’ and indeed it is as I have just typed it; I had wondered if it should have been ‘petit’, but no French influence here it seems!
- General assistance for school children; Rs 9000 – 1 village schools (£110 has been granted so that small scale grants can be given to parents in real hardship to help with school costs such as uniform, stationery, dinner money! The money was given in full at the end of my visit as the new school year starts in June and so it made sense for the grants to be used as soon as possible.
- Food for infants attending 2 ‘kinder garden’ centres. The problems arising from malnutrition affecting infants in Kerala had been reported in the State newspapers and I asked the NIDS volunteers about this and whether this was present in their areas. It is the case that ‘nursery schools’ are supposed to be provided by the State Government through the local Panchayath but this is not always the case (refer back to earlier comments on ‘news’ page about the problems of inconsistency in coverage of such initiatives). If there is provision, then the budget is small and there is not enough for the staff to give a lunch. Where there is no coverage of a school then voluntary organizations are able to act and NIDS has done so in a number of its villages but again with no budget at all available, no food can be given. KP will fund the provision of food on 2 days each week at 2 ‘kinder garden’ schools as a pilot project. On one day 40 children will be given a cooked egg, and on the other day each will receive a glass of milk. The cost of this for the 10 months in the ‘school year’ is Rs 30,000 (£365) so the daily cost per child is about 7p. The volunteers groups will try to think of ways of assessing the benefits arising from these 2 pilot projects. The 2 kinder gardens will be selected from the villages where hardship is most evident.*see reference to NIDS above:(The aim of NIDS is: ‘The vision of NIDS is the formation of a just society through participatory social action programmes. The mission of NIDS is to interact with the poor and needy to realise their need and to plan and execute appropriate programmes through direct intervention. NIDS concentrates its activities on six basic segments namely socio-economic development, agriculture development, health and antialcoholism, women and child development, dalit development and labour justice peace commissions’.)