But sometimes when u least expect the expected, the unexpected happens. Somehow i woke up by 5 and a timely reminder from one of my colleague ensured i was up. We started from bangalore by 7am. It was unusually busy for a weekend traffic.After refreshing at Lokaruchi in Mysore Road, we were on our way by 8am.
A view inside the Van on our journey
Our group consisted of 22 people, a spectrum of people from different companies. few from Misys, GE, iGate and SunQuest. We even had a toddler among us, who kept us smiling inspite of long journey.
After a round of introduction, Suyog ji (one of the Organizers) explained about the "Vanavsi Kalyan" which is a Organization working to create awareness and to develop the tribals all over India. The fact that more than 8% of India’s population are Vanavasis who are even now deprieved of the basic amenities and that some people have sacrificed their own life and dedicated their life to work for the upliftment of the tribals was really Impressive !! The place "Gundelpet" was 24 kms away from Mysore. We took the ooty road and reached Gundulpet by 11 am. There we met Mr.Srinivasa who was incharge of the "Vanavsi kalyan Ashram " in Gundelpet. From there he took us to Managala where we stopped at a Village Hostel for lunch.The place was simple with a big hall with photo frames of various tribal leaders who had fought for our country and had lived to uphold the ideals and sustain the deep rooted culture of the vanavasi's.
The Hall where lunch was served
One aspect of that which we got to see for ourself was -
Before we started our lunch, we said thanks to the Almighty for providing us the food. It is a custom followed in villages wherein we show our gratitude to the Almighty for providing us one time meal. Sad state that ,it has been forgetten in the busy cycle of today's life. So it was indeed heartening to see the tradition being still followed by the Vanavasi's.
We also had a team of doctors who were there for a free medical checkup camp in the village. After lunch, we started off to the village.The village (Gudakeri) was around 3 kms to the interior of Gundelpet. Shortly, we took a right turn which moved away from the main road and took a steep pathway.It wasnt exactly a road, just a pathway made by stones and mud. After having a fun bumpy ride, we reached the village.
I had initially thought that maybe the village might be a little big but infact there were only 18 families which made up the village.
Talk with Villagers
The people there were excited a bit on seeing new visitors.The Vanavasi Karta's incharge Mr.Srinivas assembled the people and then informed us about the Village condition. A tribe called JenuKuriba community lived in Gudakeri Village. It had totally 18 houses with 76 members overall.The place had no electricity, no water, no road. Government had installed a bore-well, from which water doesnt comes. The village also has a Solar Light which doent works. It was appalling to see that even in this time when the brand "India Shining" is being well-propagated, people were still living in such "lightless" conditions. The Vanavasi Kalyan volunteers had taken upon themselves the task of laying roads and setting right the village conditions. Truly impressive !!
A view of the mud thatched house on one side of lane
The tribe belonged to the Most Backward Category and people were yet to wake upto the realities of the outside world. They were amazed by the camera-cell phones and when we showed them their photos, they were surprised that something can really catch a photo of themselves. There were few interesting observations.The Men and Women usually worked in nearby fields for a daily wage of Rs.35 and Women-Rs.30. Not only they were satisfied with what they have , they were happy with their life.
Compare that to the hectic life of our's in which the demand always outruns supply and the unhappy life, there was indeed a good lesson to learn from this.Another interesting fact was that the highest education received in the community was till 4th Standard, that too by a girl. We bid farewell to the villagers, with a thought that we will do something to alleviate their living situations.
Team from MISYS :)
Then we went to another village called BurdarHundi, where people belonging to Soliga community lived. It had 16 houses and 63 people. Our group were ushered to a room and were briefed about the various welfare measures which had been undertaken by the Vanavasi's Kalyan people. It included starting Self help groups among women, also to train them various skills and a Sports Centre for youth. The highest education received in the community was done by a 7th Standard girl . She had interest to study more but due to lack of money, her future studies was a question. One of our group members "Ravi" said he will undertake the girls expenses untill she finishes 10th Standard. It was a nice gesture from Ravi Ji and indeed it will make a great difference in that girls life. Hats off Ravi !!
By that time, it was becoming late, we came back to the Mangala Village hostel and then met the boys who were staying there. The boys demonstrated various skills which have been taught to them like "Singing Patriotic songs, chanting mantras". Then we wished the boys All t best to do well in their studies and assured them of our help in whatever ways.
A Group Photo of Entire Group !!
We started around 8:30pm. On our return journey various members shared what their feelings and suggested ways in which we can do our part in helping them. All of us agreed that this wasnot something which can be solved Short term but with due time, and with dude care, we can definitely make a small difference.
All of us were tired yet each of us had had a day which was definitely going to linger to linger in our memories for a long time.
Former President,Abdul Kalam summed it up rightly "If India has to become a developed nation 2020 we can not afford to neglect Eight crore Vanavasis".
Please visit the following link to know more about Vanavasi Kalyana Karnatka: