During our visit at Vizhuthugal, one of our NGO partners close to Coimbatore, we met the whole team and many volunteers. Vizhuthugal engages on a daily basis for scavenger families and human rights.
In the past two years of the Covid 19 crises we had given to the families various supports, such as health and hygiene- related items and awareness programs as well as food. The already tough living conditions had become even more critical for many of the scavenger families in the past months. This had many consequences such as more domestic violences and a high number of drop out cases.
That’s why we had supported in the past months especially children who were dropped out of school to get back.
It was our first visit onsite
One very interesting point out of the discussion was also to learn more about women empowerment and activities they run continuously to raise more awareness for human rights. This includes campaigns and discussions with the local authorities and garment units as well as informing the scavenger families themselves. Scavenges are part of the lowest casts and therefore marginalized people with much less income and also low education levels.
One of the latest big awareness campaigns were the activities during the World Women Day on 8 March 2022. Besides many small awareness events they had also collected signatures from the scavengers themselves, the volunteers and all supporters from outside who intend to empower and safeguard the welfare of women.
We had also very interesting discussions with the volunteers of Vizhuthugal. They are part of the scavenger families and engage, inform and teach within the villages about human rights, health, hygiene, nutrition and many other topics. They get very little money, but what drives them most is to create a better future for the scavengers.
Before leaving to the field and experiencing ourselves how the scavenger families live, it was a very nice surprise when the director and the team of the NGO handed over an award to each in our small group as a recognition symbol for the way of partnering.
The villages of the scavengers are often in some „remote“ land, given by the government. There are also informal constructions in the city of Coimbatore, made by scavengers here and there, but those areas and informal set ups keep the people constantly under pressure as they do not know when their houses might be destroyed by the government as they are illegal. The government is interested to give the families an opportunity to build their villages in some areas outside the city center.
The arrival in the village
We were very nicely welcomed when we arrived in one of the villages. The people had prepared traditional ceremonies as drumming and flowers. It was to all an emotional moment, especially as scavengers often are marginalized and no one from „above“ cares so much about them. Even the men stopped working for the first 20 min before going back to work and participated in the conversations when we gathered under a tend in the middle of these 30 families village.
It was one of those exposure where we concluded: Someone can understand only when going and listening first, interacting with the people themselves and getting a real experience how life can feel.
It is difficult to realize if we just read about it or listen to presentations. The smell, the sounds, the houses and animals around, the discussions, the interest of the families and their welcoming… all this matters to give us a real understanding which and how these challenges have an impact on the families.
We will continue to support in many different ways to empower those people.
Thanks Vizhuthugal for making this happen!