In Thottiyapatti village, Build:India monitors and supports the Learning Center and EcoSan project

by tuftsigl
Jun 05

During our first week here at our non-profit partner Payir we have been helping with some projects, checking up on the state of the Learning Center and EcoSan toilets in Thottiyapatti village, working on health evenings to be held next week, and have been in discussion on the next semester of BUILD.

Arriving, we were not aware of the summer school holidays in Tamil Nadu. As a result, there are not as many children at Payir as we expected but we are still able to form close friendships with the children that are here.

After resting on our first day, we met with the heads of Payir, Preethi and Senthil. They communicated that they would like us to create a promotional video about the impact of Payir’s projects, such as the residential school, Thoorigai bag-making project, and health clinic. We began filming and writing scripts for the video, with the intention to have a rough cut done by the end of our trip. We were also asked to write the annual report for Payir. Sivaranjani and Gayatri, two college-aged students studying social work in Madurai, already had research done for the report. With their research, we have been able to write extensively and in a detailed fashion. The report will be complete before our departure. We also helped in editing a PowerPoint for a conference Payir will attend on e-Learning. From visiting the Learning Center and EcoSan toilets, as well as learning several new updates, we have taken next steps on these projects.

First, we traveled to Trichy to replenish supplies for both structures. Second, we have created a budget that includes much-needed clogging and lighting repairs for the EcoSan toilets. Third, we are happy to have learned that classes are being regularly taught at the Learning Center, that there has been continuous usage of the EcoSan toilets (over 100 people use it per day), and those monthly meetings have been started by members of the community to discuss what is further needed at the toilets (such as a new water hose and a strong but eco-friendly cleaning solution). These updates signal to us that the community has finally taken close-to-full ownership of these projects, which is always the end goal for sustainable development.

Also, we have been planning two health evenings for the Thottiyapatti community. These evenings will be held in front of the Learning Center. It will feature 3 stations on nutrition, sanitation, and mental health. We will have activities such as stress-ball making, a tour of the toilets, and an open discussion on mental health.

Finally, we have had some time to talk about BUILD India’s structure next year. We are thinking about creating positions within the club to allow for easier administration of club duties. We have also created a timeline for how we want to see the next semester pan out. Overall, we have enjoyed our time here thus far (even through an 110F + heat wave!) and cannot wait to see how the rest of the trip unfolds.