In the Vandiyooran theru community Alcoholism was common and rampant as a result of the physically intensive hard work done by the men. this brought along with it a myriad of social and psychological problems within a family.

In the Vandiyooran theru community Alcoholism was common and rampant as a result of the physically intensive hard work done by the men. this brought along with it a myriad of social and psychological problems within a family. Alcohol abuse, wife beating, gambling is everyday reality. Child labor is inevitable. it is common still to find children working in the highly polluting textile and leather tanneries and carry the impacts of it on their health throughout their life.

In the mid 90’s  handful of youth in the community including Madheswaran who were progressive and inspired by *Periyar’s teaching mobilized people, raised questions on their living and working conditions. At this point of time there was an increasing awareness that only education could liberate the future generation from their slavery. *‘Cuckoo Padippakam’ for Vandiyuran theru community children came as a result of it.

At this point of time there was an increasing awareness that only education could liberate the future generation from their slavery. ‘Cuckoo Padippakam’ for for Vandiyuran theru community children came as a result of it.

Children gather every evening at Cuckoo Padippakam to read © Balamurali Krishnan
Children listening to stories at Cuckoo Padippakam © Balamurali Krishnan

The *Cuckoo Padippakam(library) became a place to gather and discuss issues in the community.

The *Cuckoo Padippakam(library) became a place to gather and discuss issues in the community. The children took to reading books which broadened their outlook towards their society. The children were encouraged to tell stories, read articles from newspapers and discuss their daily happenings at school.

Kalaithaai has enabled children in their community to go to school and colleges taking care of the entire cost without which many of them would have ended up as child laborers.

Kalaithaai has enabled children in their community to go to school and colleges taking care of the entire cost without which many of them would have ended up as a child laborers.Now Kalaithaai students are graduates in various fields. Despite their aspirations in education and careers most of them are deeply involved with teaching silambam and learning.

Project Eyam is trying to engage people with oral history of people of Tamilnadu and  through the insights of both old and young to question the mainstream perceptions and explore how this could help bring a deeper understanding about our society’s past and present. Photography and Editing by Balamurali Krishnan

 

*Periyar was a social reformist, and politician who started the Self-Respect Movement and Dravidar Kazhagam in Tamilnadu

*Cuckoo padippakam(Library) was originally founded by Sivaraj of Cuckoo children movement. His motto was to take books to the children in the rural villages of interior Tamilnadu. They organized storytelling sessions, painting competitions, crafts workshops and many other activities  for children.  https://www.facebook.com/cuckoochildren/