The welfare activities of the Gandhigram Trust are a set of institutions that are meant to provide shelter and support for the socially ignored and neglected sections.
Avvai Ashram was established in 1954, and Shanti School in 1956 taken over from M. Jesudasan and integrated with Avvai Ashram when he was unable to take care of it.
The Avvai Ashram campus is a stone’s throw away from the Local Shiva temple, and the Shanthi school residential campus is just a few compounds away. The temple and its activities play a prominent role in the daily life of the inmates of both the Avvai Ashram and Shanthi School. Children go to the temple in the evening and night, chant slokas and verses from holy texts. Besides the temple, there is a mosque in the predominantly Muslim village of Sammangulam nearby. The festivals / celebrations at the mosque correlate with those of the temple and vice versa; hence all people make it a point to visit both on a holy day. There are 58 children in the Ashram now. The children who are brought to the Avvai Ashram who either have only relatives who are unable to take care of them or a single parent who is very poor, or handicapped or working elsewhere etc.
The Avvai Ashram Family
The atmosphere is very homely and informal; the children feel more at home here than in their own homes. Until 18 years of age, they get support from the social welfare grant – Rs. 750 per person per month. There are a few donations coming in that go towards the Ashram over and above this amount. Every year there are about 10 – 15 children above 16 years of age and hence without State support. Meantimes higher studies of the inmates, (nursing, B.Ed., B. Sc. etc), their boarding and other charges in a hostel and elsewhere are also borne by the Ashram. Again, marriages for many of the girls are also planned, organised by the Ashram.
The children go to the school at Sivasailam, a few blocks away – Attri Kalanilaya middle School (1st –8th) and in Azhwarkurichi – Sri Paramakalyani Higher Sec. School and St. Antony Hr. Sec. School, Karuthapillaiyoor (6th to 12th). Arrangements are also made when required to send the youngsters to Sri Paramakalyani College at Azhwarkurichi.
The Ashram, similar to the school, functions like a surrogate family for the children, supporting them until marriage and even offspring’s many times, and keeping in touch after, to know of their well-being.
Avvai ashram a unit of Gandhigram Trust is a surrogate for 51 children (Boys 19 and Girls 32) who are mostly orphan or have single parent. These children attend regular school and have
supplementary support through special coaching by tutors and volunteers. The house mothers, volunteers and visitors provide emotional support for these children and help them in the process of socialization.
SOUNDRAM ILLAM: Apart from providing the basic needs – food, shelter, and clothing, social values are inculcated in the minds of the children. The need for leading simple life,
understanding the Gandhian principles, service to nation, sharing the responsibilities and helping fellow beings are part of ashrams life. The ashrams involvement in social work
ensures an organic link between the ashram, children, and the community. Inclusive approach providing love and care, a home away from home, education and skill development
are very much significant.
Reflection of a social system, personality development, and leadership qualities are embedded in the ashrams daily activities. Child parliament is an active approach where in
the children understands the roles and responsibilities of integrated management of the Ashram, the needs of the children and plan for better futures.
KASTURBA CRÈCHE is crafted to meet the social demands of the community in an around Sivasailam. With the financial assistance from the social welfare board and donations the
crèche is meeting the demands of 30 children in the age group of 6 months to 5 years. The care and support rendered by the crèche provides satisfaction to their mothers, who are at
work. The social security to the kids, creative and innovative strategies of inculcating education through play way methods, balanced diet and clothing are provided to the children.
PARENT MANAGED RESPITE CENTRE: In continuation of the TdHNL project on community based social rehabilitation programme, the identified children with Mentally
Retarded, Cerebral palsy with M.R., Austism, Down syndrome and Micro Cheply are managed by Avvai Ashram with the support from the parents. Twenty four children identified within 10 km radius in the age group of 4 to 18 are admitted. They have been trained to do the basic needs of them and also to do some social work. They have been brought to the centre by our vehicle and drop in the evening. The transport cost is being supported by Simpson groups and Anjana software solutions, Chennai. The expenditure to run the centre is shared by the management, donors and parents.
V P ANNA FOOD PROCESSING AND HOME APPLIANCES REPAIRING UNITS: Instant Grander was installed in the centre for grinding rice and gram for the school and ashram. The idly mavoo is also sold to private. Vathal from rice and other vegetables have been manufactured and sold in the ashram. Mushrooms cultivation is regularized. The children from PMRC have been trained in watering, maintenance of the campus etc. Likewise the home appliances unit trained the students in repairing fan, mixie, grinder, and light electrical works is also continued with the help of MSPV Polytechnic.
VOCATIONAL TRAINING on tailoring is going on in the campus. Currently 30 women from nearby villages are undergoing the training. It is a six months certificate course
conducted with the help of M.S.P.V.L Polytechnic.
PALANIAMMAL MEMORIAL TAILORING UNIT: Department of Environment sponsored a tailoring unit worth of five lakhs aiming to train women in stitching ecofriendly
bags which are to be used instead of plastic bags. Twenty sewing machines have been installed and the trained women from nearby villages benefitted.
SMART LEARNING CENTRE: Foundation for CSR @ Redington is the trust formed by Redington (India) to implement its CSR activities. They have selected Gandhigram Trust
(Avvai Ashram) as one of the Centres in Tamil Nadu for implementing their activities. In Sivasailam they are concentrating their programmes in three aspects. The first activity is to
establish a “Smart Learning Centre”to create employability for rural pass out graduates. The four months free training includes the development of communication skills, personality
development, computer skills, career counseling, resume writing, interview skills and personal grooming. Sixty students from nearby colleges and villages around Sivasailam joined
the course. The second activity is to establish “Smart Resource Centre”, through which they teach English for the students of Santhi High School for Deaf who have exempted
English from their curriculum. The third programe under CSR activities is establishment of “Evening Tuition Centre”.Redington provides tuition teachers and apart from our own
students forty students from outside the campus are benefited. Avvai Ashram and Santhi School provide space for creating these centres and the programmes have started from 3rd
Cultivation and gardening has been taken up in the Ashram campus. Mostly vegetables are grown here and the children get involved in this with the help of the gardener. Financial support is needed for their infrastructural and other needs.