Doing women a world of good

FEELING AT HOME: Inmates of the Annai Ashram in Tiruchi are engrossed in a game. — Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam.

FEELING AT HOME: Inmates of the Annai Ashram in Tiruchi are engrossed in a game. — Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam.  

The Sangam has more than 40 life members now

Prathibha Parameswaran

TIRUCHI: For the Tamil Nadu Pengal Nala Sangam in Tiruchi, the celebration is two-fold this year as it is not just the golden jubilee year of the Sangam but also the 80th birth anniversary of its founder, Annai V. Veerammal.

The association, which took shape in 1954 with 43 members, has grown to envelop in its fold a home for destitute children, home for the aged, Annai Girls' Higher Secondary School, Pulavar Devarajan Elementary School, a child labour special school, six cr�ches, a nursery school, Annai Ashram Press, a typewriting institute, tailoring and craft centre, cottage industries unit, sandalwood garland making unit and a working women's hostel. The Sangam has over 40 life members now, and numerous members from all parts of the State are also part of it.

In its golden jubilee year, the association has jotted down a list of activities to be taken up and finished, the first among which is the adoption of 100 children from the Adi Dravida community. Annai Ashram has planned to house these children, belonging to the economically and socially weaker sections of the society, in the ashram and use government funds to meet their educational expenses.

The association's course of action also includes the setting up of a new home for destitute women under the Suwetha Centre Scheme of the Department of Human Resource Development. This home will house widows, destitute women, ex-convicts and victims of sexual harassment, who have been alienated by their families.

There are also plans to set up a nursing school on the ashram premises for inmates who grew up at the home and have completed their Plus Two. The school would offer a three-year diploma nursing course, which awaits accreditation. A one-year course in nursing assistance, affiliated to Bharathidasan University is also planned.

"Fifty years is a milestone, but with the cooperation of the public, philanthropists and other service organisations, we will be able to do better," K.G. Meenakshi, correspondent, Annai Girls' HSS and member of the association, hopes.

In its nascent stages, the association members undertook campaigns aimed at uplifting women from socially depressed classes of the society, improving child care, general health and preventing the spread of contagious diseases, preparing a nutritious diet, promoting the education of women, family planning and national integration and decrying ignorance and superstitions. Avvai Library and a balwadi for poor children have completed 48 years. While the library is has over 5,000 titles, the balwadi continues to give free nutritious food to children below five years.

The ashram has also instituted scholarships for vocational training for women with the aid of Woman Kind World Wide, a London based non-governmental organisation.

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