Posts which have been tagged with: angalakuppam.

Milk in the Morning

This is Jaya Sekar (left) and Vinayakamurthy (right). They meet each morning at 6:45am, when Vinayakamurthy comes to milk Jaya’s cow. Jaya lives in Aranganur, a village on the banks of the Chunnambar river near the town of Pondicherry in India.
Jaya is a beneficiary of Sharana’s micro-credit program. She is 43 years old, and the mother of two girls. Her husband died in an unfortunate road accident this past May. Things had been difficult as a complete family, and now the burden is wholly on Jaya to provide for her daughters. Jaya started a business with a micro-credit loan from Sharana in 2005, with just a single cow. She repaid her loan a year later, in 2006. Between then and now, she has acquired 3 additional cows and sold 2. One died, but was covered by insurance whose claim returned some funds for the loss to Jaya. She now runs her small business with 3 cows, and has 2 calves.
This is Vetrivelan, known to us all simply as Vetri. Normally, he is home with his family in Pondicherry at 6:45am. But this morning, he came out to Angalakuppam to visit Jaya and the village. Vetri is a veteran Sharana social worker who has known Jaya and her business plans from the time of its inception, and who keeps track of how she is doing.

It has rained all night, and everything is wet. Jaya and her daughters live right next to the cows in a simple thatched hut with an open bathroom. The rain makes life all the more challenging.

Vinayakamurthy arrives from Pondicherry to milk the cows. He has been in the milking business for 30 years, and charges a monthly fee for milking and distributing the milk.

Why is Jaya not milking her own cows? It is customary for women to tend to the cows and men to milk and distribute, both for reasons of physical strength and skill, as well as for other social beliefs related to caste purity. Jaya explains that her role is to feed and care for the cows, and assist in the milking by calming them, since they are each so sensitive. She also performs pujas on Fridays to pray for the good health of her animals, and a good yield in milk.

Vinayakamurthy has two sons himself, who have studied computer science and will not take over his daily job. For now, however, Vinayakamurthy feels he is doing good business.

Soon the milk vessels are full of milk. Each cow gives 8 litres of milk in the morning, and 6 in the evening, when the milking process repeats. Jaya sells the milk at Rs. 20 per liter. Vinayakamurthy delivers it in town. Most of it is purchased by restaurants in Pondicherry.

Jaya keeps an account of the liters obtained and sold in her daily record book.

Here, Vetri is discussing the status of work with Jaya and Vinayakamurthy.

By 7:15am, Vinayakamurthy is setting out for Pondicherry town with full canisters of fresh Angalakuppam milk.

Post idea, images, and storyboard courtesy Peter Kabel.

Health and Nutrition

Sharana’s social development projects are centrally concerned with addressing communities’ nutritional needs by providing fresh and balanced meals at its creches and community centers. Each community center has a functioning kitchen and a cook who is responsible for procuring vegetables and other staples daily, and supplying fresh meals according to a preset menu to children enrolled in the creches and at summer camps. At the Homework Help Center (and at homework help sessions held at village centers), children also receive milk and snacks that are supplemented with spirulina, produced at Sharana’s own facility in Aranganur. Bananas and other fruit and vegetables grown in Aranganur are distributed to beneficiary children and/or supplied to the community center kitchens.

Medical Outreach

Medical care was among the first and most critical needs identified by members of the community at Angalakuppam. When the community center was built, space was set aside for a dispensary which is run today by Lakshmi, a woman from the village who worked hard to train herself as a paramedic and then to gain the faith and trust of the community she serves as a healthcare professional.

Thanks to Lakshmi’s expertise and the space created for the dispensary, several medical outreach activities are possible at Angalakuppam:

  • routine medical care, including vision and dental checks;
  • eye care camps (conducted by the reputed Arvind Eye Hospital);
  • dental camps (conducted by Rajiv Gandhi Dental College, and with the assistance of local dental practitioner Dr. Satya);
  • disease prevention awareness campaigns;
  • family planning awareness;
  • vaccinations (including pulse polio);
  • detection of Respiratory and heart ailments, blood pressure monitoring;
  • referral services, where patients are triaged to local hospitals based on their physical conditions.

The prospect of building a dispensary to provide similar services at Mathur is currently being investigated.