7 June 97
SEED first came to the attention of ASHA-MIT in early 1996. Two professors from IIT-Madras recommended the project for funding. Ravi Sundaram visited the project in March 96 and also recommended the project for funding. ASHA-MIT approved the project for funding in May 96. The funding was for educational materials and salaries for the primary school and high school. First installment of $1000 was sent out and the project started in July 96, Second installment of $1200 was to be sent in Jan 97 after a report from SEED and another visit. But this has not been done so far. Premnath visited the project on 7 June 97. The report from SEED is expected soon. (**Note- Anu R. will be visiting SEED in July 97 and she mailed the check for the second installment in in May, 97)
Gettin there/best times:
Different parts of the project are located at different places in close vicinity of Sriperumbudur. Sriperumbudur is situated roughly 50kms from interior Madras on the Madras-Kancheepuram-Bangalore National Highway No. 4. First en route is village Utkottai which is roughly 4kms down a side road off the highway. The high school for boys (including some vocational training), home for these children and a small dairy/agri farm are located here. Next on the highway if the newly planned Industrial Training Institute at Irrungattukottai village. Training for fitting, electrical works, and automobile mechanics is planned here. Finally the primary school, home for young children and high school girls and vocational training center is located at Sriperumbudur. The school runs on weekdays between 9-4pm after which there is vocational training for 2 hours. It is a half-day on Saturdays. For best times contact Mr. Palanisamy. Please note the updated contact information. Mr Palanisamy SEED, West Grand Trunk Road, Sriperumbudur Tamil Nadu 602 105 Phone at Sriperumbudur 04111-32322 Phone at Utkottai 044-627-3521 Phone at Canara Bank office 044-826-4142, 044-824-1023 Phone at residence 044-245-0565
SEED provides education, vocational training, food, boarding, and car for the children of life prisoners, children of leprosy patients who are beggars and deserted children from various parts of Tamil Nadu. SEED is quite well known in and has recieved awards/funds/support from various sources in the past as was indicated in their proposal. The state government has permitted SEED to visit prisons, interview prisoners, select suitable children and also use the services of probation officers in their native villages to check on the kids. The funds are being patched together from various domestic and international sources largely due to Mr Palanisamy's efforts and his contacts who have recommended the project to various funding groups. In fact, groups of French scouts seem to be visiting every year and helping with the construction of some buildings. (The French scouts have chosen this project to help following the recommendation of a father at Loyola College.) My general impression was that Mr. Palanisamy was an ernest man who was sacrificing a lot for this cause. He is employed at Canara Bank but often takes no pay leave to take care of SEED. He is motivated by Gandhian thought and ohilosophy. The project has come a long way and helps 300 children or so. However, a paucity of funds and the inability to get enthusiastic and capable people to run the project (also because of the low salary) are problems with visible consequences. It would be nice if all employees has a personal stake in the project like SHARE but that is not possible in such a charity project. The project exists due to the efforts of Mr. Palanisamy. I did not meet anybody else who could assert himself/herself as a leader in mr. Palanisamy's absence. This scares me since sustainability of projects depends on multiple leadership. The project has three units - let me call them, Utkottai unit, Irrugatukottai unit and Sriperumbudur unit. The Utkottai unit has a) the high school for boys (6-10 standard) including some vocational training like tailoring, weaving & some electronics, b) home for these boys (with housing, food, etc.), c) a small agri and dairy farm. The conditions are austere. The benches are inadequate. The classrooms could do with additional partitions. The place is maintained by the kids who contribute to various jobs in turn. The consitions are however a universal phenomenon in India. The irrungatukottai unit is getting ready to start this year. The buildings and procurement of equipment for educating the children (mainly boys) is three trades are in progress. The Sriperumbudur unit houses a) the primary school, b) the home for the primary school children, d) computer training center (two 286 computers in poor condition). Again the conditions are austere but reasonably clean. The homes have house mothers or house fathers. The elder girls go to a local high school for girls. Please note that SEED is getting funds from ASHA-MIT ($1000) and ASHA-RTP (~$1200). The ASHA-RTP funds are for furniture and some educational materials. Therefore both ASHA chapters may wish to coordinate between themselves.
As far as ASHA-MIT's effort is concerned, here is what I could make out. ASHA-MIT is currently funding educational materials (mainly books) and teachers salaries ast the boys high school and primary schoo. The books and notebooks were probably made available last year. Only half the money has been sent for this year. They are currently short of money for buy next years books (they need new ones since the books have changed). The teachers are OK - some are good and enthusiastic like the person who is teaching electronics. Thanks to his efforts the children won an award for an electronics project at a local competition where private and big-wig schools participated. Howevere, there was also a missing teacher. It looks like many of the teachers are difficult to retain due to the low pay here. Maybe ASHA-MIT should consider always giving a higher pay so that these schools get good teachers, but will that be sustainable? All though there are several problems, these children are getting a new life here. Otherwise they would have been ostracized or neglected in their villages. This is definitely a good projects but will have to continue on donations.
1. I have asked Mr. Palanisamy to send a report soon on how the $1000 were spent. On receipt of this I suggest that ASHA-MIT send the remaining $1200. We must inform him (I have but you should also) that in the future we will need periodic reports specifying the date when required and the required contents. 2. Soon after that I have requested Mr. Palanisamy to write a proposal for next year. Please consider the and fund what you think is appropriate. The project deserves funding as long as possible. 3. I also recommend that ASHA-MIT be more specific in what it is funding and request reports which show what exactly money was spent for. For example, if it says educational materials then we must ask what exactly - books, aids, etc? This helps the person visiting in his/her evaluation. 4. This is a project ideal for getting publicity material like letters and drawings from children.
1. I took some photos but they did not come out right due to a glitch in the camera. A volunteer of Association for India's Development came with me on this trip. I will try to get the photos from him for ASHA. (Just FYI, the AID volunteer from Maryland is Murali. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org) 2. Some newspaper cuttings, etc. were sent with the proposal long back. 3. We should request, a) letters from children b) drawings c) some products made by the children like bags, woven flowers, etc. for our booths. -typed up Sri, 2 July 97