Andhra Pradesh

An ashram that walks children through life’s adversities

Tribal students practicing a traditional dance at Jattu Ashramam in Parvatipuram of Vizianagaram district.  

The Jattu Ashramam in Parvatipuram, 75 km from Vizianagaram, believes in not letting go of a child’s hand till he/she manages to find their footing in life.

Launched in 1989 by D. Parinaidu, a government school teacher who quit his job to focus full-time on helping tribal children, the ashram ensures that inmates are trained in music and dance from a young age.

The ashram’s efforts caught the attention of V. Padmaja, a Group-1 officer who worked as Mandal Development Officer in Prakasam district. Inspired by Mr. Parinaidu’s efforts, Ms. Padmaja resigned from her job and joined the ashram in order to fulfil her lifelong passion of working for marginalised children.

Having grown up in Raichur, Karnataka, where music and dance play a key role in shaping the growth of children, Ms. Padmaja wanted to ensure the same kind of upbringing for the tribal children of Jattu Ashramam.

“Children should be taught the importance of culture, tradition and nature in our life. They are our investments for the future. Apart from music and dance, we are also teaching the children the importance of protecting the environment. They participate in plantation drives, and campaign against usage of plastic and protection of ponds in and around Parvatipuram town,” Ms. Padmaja told The Hindu.

While some of the tribal children who come to the ashram are orphans, many are victims of deeply entrenched tribal customs. “If the husband dies, the wife can remarry. However, there is one condition — she cannot take care of her children from her first husband. This tribal custom has become a bane for many children of Gummalakshmipuram, Kurupam, Jiyyammavalasa and other surrounding hamlets,” Mr. Parinaidu said.

“The ashramam becomes their second home. Jattu, in Telugu, stands for team. We have managed to ensure a decent education for 125 inmates. A majority of them have settled down in jobs across the country,” he said.

Going the extra mile

“Apart from ensuring higher studies, we take care of their marriage also. We ensure that they get suitable matches after thorough verification. Times are changing and people cutting across caste, creed and religion are coming forward to marry tribal women. This is a good sign. It gives us a lot of happiness. Many people are also coming forward to extend their help for the overall development of children,” he added.

“Soujanya, Sameera and Alekhya, three young inmates of the ashram, are adept at self-defence techniques as well as music and dance. Nearly 50 students of different age groups have a deep interest in gardening. They prepared sanitisers without using chemicals. The sanitiser bottles are being distributed locally. The students learnt waste management techniques with the support of Parvathipuram municipal authorities. They turned local dumping yards into playgrounds with relentless efforts,” said Ms. Padmaja, beaming with pride.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 12:55:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/an-ashram-that-walks-children-through-lifes-adversities/article32986736.ece

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