SanitationCheck out the sanitation project pictures!
MGR Nagar (Samuthiram Village) is a neighborhood with over 100 homes. Our survey revealed that about 85 families were in need of a toilet in MGR Nagar. This situation is particularly difficult for women, who are challenged to find privacy during the day, and are threatened by cobras, scorpions, spiders and other dangers at night. A woman living in MGR Nagar passed away as a result of a snake bite that occurred while going to the toilet in the field at night. There is often discussion amongst villagers about incidents that happened in the field the night before. This sanitation problem also affects the environment, contaminating the fields, wells and water tanks, and spreading disease.
After thorough research on flush toilet failures in Southern India, and their detrimental impact on health and the environment, we chose to build ecological toilets (dry compost toilets) for the village. The total cost of an ecotoilet and shower room installation (including outhouse) is 12,600 rupees. For more information and resources about ecological sanitation, go to the Ecological Sanitation Resources page.
Project status as of October 2009: After conducting educational activities to raise awareness of hygiene, sanitation, and health issues in the village, and organizing field trips for the villagers to visit already existing ecosanitation projects in Southern India, our construction started in the Spring of 2007, and 53 toilet/shower installations have been completed in collaboration with Bless who have provided technical and financial support. Check out the sanitation project pictures!
We hope for donations that can allow all 85 families to enjoy a toilet in the privacy and safety of their home. And, funds permitting, we would also love to provide public toilets, as well as toilets for homes in surrounding villages.
Old AgeMost village residents in MGR Nagar (Samuthiram Village) are poor and uneducated. Their manual skills allow them to perform only sporadic hourly work in the areas of construction, farming, nursery and housework. Poverty and employment issues leave people struggling for survival and place the elderly in a particularly precarious situation. A number of local elderly people are undernourished and lack proper shelter, clothing and medical care. This, along with their families' inability to support them, leads to long-term suffering and chronic illness.
As part of the Trust's elderly emergency relief project, on January 13th, 2007 we visited the eight poorest elderly people in MGR Nagar and assessed their immediate needs. We were deeply touched and especially concerned about Kirikaunder, a blind man who has been ill for several years. Kirikaunder smiled faintly when we told him we would return soon with food and medical help. However, on our way to his hut with the doctor on January 15th, we heard that Kirikaunder had passed away around 5am that morning.
Medical emergency relief
Feeding the elderly
At Quality of Life Trust, we would like to assist the elderly before their situation becomes critical. Our current emergency relief project includes providing food, medical treatment, blankets and other essential items. We are also collecting donations to be able to open an old age home for 10 people in MGR Nagar. Our total estimated expenses for the first year in a rented home are 247,300 rupees. Please help our elderly brothers and sisters enjoy a healthier, happier life!
Meet some of the elders we are currently assisting:
At the age of 92, Poongoli is the oldest person in the QLT Elderly Program.
She was born about 175 km from Tiru, in the village of Sevour, and she grew up there. She was the oldest of 7 children. The family lived with two cows, and they owned some land. They made their living by selling milk from the cows and growing crops, like ground nuts (peanuts).
Poongoli remembers working on the family land. When she was young, she didnít go to school. Poongoli was 16 years old when she got married, in the village of Kacharappattu, close to Tiru. She had 1 son and 4 daughters. The family earned money from farming and had a cow and some goats. It was a happy time for Pongoli, for a while.
When Pongoli was still a young woman at age 25, she had a major triumph with her family. Her husband had a severe problem with alcohol. He came home drunk once again. So she broke with him, refusing to give him food, and stopped speaking to him for a time. Her family came to take her and her children back to their home. With these actions, she was able to turn her husband around. He missed his family, cleaned up his act, and never drank again in his life.
Today, Pongoli stays in a house owned by her son, but her son lives far away with his family and isnít here to help her. She says that nobody helps her, except QLT. Now "they are feeding me nicely. Thanks to them."
Speaking of how things have changed, Poongoli notes that now, many girls go to school, and life is different. When asked what gives her happiness now, she answers "when somebody listens to me."
Sarada is 70 years old. She was born and grew up in the village of Vodukur. Her father was a "cooley," a laborer. She only had one other sibling, a brother. When she was young and lived with her parents, she had everything she needed. She worked as a farm laborer, pulling weeds. After work, she and her friends would go swimming in the lake. She remembers that as a beautiful time.
At the age of 10, Saratha was married off. She remembers being very young and not even knowing what marriage was. Her parents called her to sit close to them. A man tied a thread around her neck. Her parents told her, "He is your husband now." She was "very sad."
Talking about how things are different now than when she was young, Sarada remarked that now; girls are proud to choose their own husbands. When asked what makes her happy, she answers, "Nothing. When I am sleeping it gives me some happiness."
Because she doesnít have any family, Sarada has always been by herself, and it has been very hard. She says, "When I joined QLT I am very happy."
Nataraji was born close to Tiru in the village of Madalampodi. He is 75 years old.
He had no brothers or sisters. His father supported the family as an ironsmith. He fondly remembers going to school and playing. He tells of being quite a good player of Kobadi. One day he was playing on the school grounds and fell down, breaking his hand. Sadly, he wasnít able to play after that.
At age 25, Nataraji was married. He had two sons and two daughters. He supported his family as an ironsmith, like his father. He has six grandchildren now. Unfortunately, none of his family is able to help him now, because they are all very poor. He is grateful that QLT is able to help.
Talking about how things have changed, Nataraji says that "many things happened around me." Before, there were nothing but "leaf houses." Now, new buildings appear, and people are very busy, too.
His happiest times were when he was young and playing. Now, he is happy being in silence, sitting in front of the temple.
Born in the village of Kottaour, Thiruvenketam is now 85 years old.
He was an only child, like Nataraji. His father tried to support their family as a farm laborer, but wasnít able to earn enough. Because the family was so poor, Thiruvenketamís parents sold him at an early age to a "rich man" in the village, who owned some land. He remembers playing happily as a child. His specialty was climbing up coconut palm trees. There came a time, at about age 9, when Thiruvenketam realized he was actually owned by this rich man. He says he was so happy before he knew he was a slave.
When he was 18 years old, Thiruvenketam got married. Like his father, he worked as a laborer to earn money. The couple had no children, and at some point his wife ran away.
Thiruvenketamís life has always been hard. He has no family at all, and no home. He sleeps on the side of the road, or under a tree. It used to be very difficult for him to get food, but, since joining QLT, he has "good food" now.
Thiruvenketam remarks that in the last 20 years, many changes have taken place. Twenty years ago, M.G.R. Nagar and Indira Nagar, the neighborhoods where Samituram Village is located, were just forest. People were afraid to come to this area. But now there are many buildings, and so many people are living here.
When asked what brings him happiness, Thiruvenketam replied as follows: "When I was married I was so happy. When I was young I was so happy. Now, if someone provides me with hot water, I am so happy."
Although he is only 41 years old, Arumugam is a member of the QLT program because he has been severely debilitated with "blood cancer."
He was born and grew up in the village of Karumbur. He has two elder sisters and one younger brother. His family earned their living by doing odd jobs, such as preparing wood "packets."
At age 18, Arumugam was married in the M.G.R. Nagar, where he lives now. He has four daughters. Before he got sick he was so happy with being married and having children. "Becoming a father was a thrilling experience for me," he says. He supported his family as a "load man."
Since he became ill, he has not had enough money to live. His family consisted of five women. His four daughters werenít able to go to work. His wife went to work, but she didnít earn enough money. Now, QLT is taking care of him. "Thanks for that," he says.
Even in his relatively short life, Arumugam has seen many changes around him. He says that nobody had electricity or television when he was young, and no one went to school. "Nowadays, most of the people have these things."
The sorrow in Arumugamís life now is that he canít work. Working was good for him, and it made him happy.
Virundammal is 70 years old. She was born in the village of Kinathur and grew up there. She is the youngest of six siblings, one older brother and five older sisters. Her father worked as a laborer, a "cooley."
Virundammal was married at age 15. She had four sons and one daughter. Her husband made a living as a barber. She also remembers that he earned money each year at Deepam. There were not so many people at that time who participated in preparing the top of Arunachala for the lighting of the flame, and her husband was paid for making multiple trips up the mountain carrying ghee from the big temple.
She didnít have children for several years. People would always ask Virundammal about having children, and it made her sad that she wasnít fulfilling the expectations of the community. She became a mother at age 21, and was so happy that she could finally answer the questions of her neighbors.
The coupleís four sons did not take care of them as they became elderly. They were able to live with their daughter, but there wasnít enough money for food for them. Virundammalís husband was in poor health, and was enrolled in the QLT program until he passed away recently. Now that Virundammalís husband is gone, she is very glad that QLT is helping her get food.
Reflecting on changes that she has seen in her life, Virundammal recalls what it was like when her husband did his hair cutting work. He would go out to the fields, and people would come out and sit around waiting for their haircut. There were no roads to the fields then, but now there are nice roads. Virundammal is happy spending her time looking at dramas and sleeping.
Future ProjectsWe are beginning to plan for possible future projects to assist in areas such as:
- child and adult education
- old age homes
- domestic violence
- the environment