The rural camp, which was organized by the department of Social Work, provided an opportunity to the students to gain practical skills and be exposed to the rural areas. The students of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kollam (MSW 2016-2018) were required to go for a Field Study in the villages Vazhachal and Malakkappara. The rural camp was held from 17th march to 24th march. The students were divided into several committees. The class was divided into 9 different committees to look after different aspects of the rural camp. At the camp site, the students were divided into groups so as to visit the different villages in Vazhachal and later in Malakkappara .This rural camp is basically to understand the lives of people which reside in places that are not much developed and interacting with the local community to understand their culture, beliefs, rituals. The camp was conducted for 8 days at Vazhachal and Mallakappara.
Students are given a wide chance of taking up responsibilities with leadership. The camp leaders are elected and the students organizing the camp are divided onto various committees and are delegated with their responsibilities. The student who are selected to represent the class are guided by the faculty members for visiting the purposed places and identify the needs and interests of people through professional interactions. The faculty knew Dr.Amitav Bachchan who runs a foundation called ‘HORNBILL FOUNDATION’ so along with him we decided the place Vazhachal, Athirappilly in Kerala and Malakkappara in Tamil Nadu.
We started our journey at morning 10:30a.m from Vallikavu and reached at Vazhachal at 5:45pm in the evening and later at night had dinner.
We started our rural camp inauguration by inviting the DFO Mr. Rajesh Nalinakshan, Vazhachal Division and hornbill director Dr. Amitav Bachan . Mr. Rajesh Nalinakshan delivered a Speech about the forest, places and work undertaken by them which motivated to do our rural camp work successful and later Mr. Amitav Bachchan gave a glimpse to the activities that had to be done by the students and brief knowledge about the place , tribal settlement. Along with the students of Amrita University, students of MES college joined. Then we were separated in groups for the group discussion on the topic “what are the problems faced by tribal settlement” and nearly 8 teams participated in the discussion. The student presented the topic and were asked counter questions by Dr.Amitav and he also shared additional information. Inauguration program schedule is prepared by program committee and made the program successful.
After inauguration we had lunch and later commenced for organizing a cultural program in the nearby Tribal Residential School. We interacted first and tried to understand their behavior and how they communicate as part as to understand the tribal children. We presented solo, group dance, solo song (naddan song) and group song. I performed a solo dance.
As per schedule of program committee in morning along with Dr.Amitav went for bird watching and saw a number of birds which I didn’t seen in my life. I got the see the endangered bird that is Hornbill which is rare in India. All students started trekking. Trekking was a wonderful experience which every student can’t be forgotten in their life. One of the sweet memories in life in camp. After trekking we had a session on PRA given by Reshmi(Sociologist Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary) and discussed about the positives and negatives of the coming up of the Athirappilly dam. We all were distributed in a team of 5 and discussed about the issue and each team came out with different opinions. Later after lunch we had a Session on Forest Resource And Management that was given by Dr. Amitav Bachan ( Director of Hornbill Foundation ) and later Hamlet Visit at Pokalappara and Vazhachal and after that we went for sightseeing at vazhachal falls.
Hamlet Visit –Pokalappara and Vazhachal. After having breakfast two groups hot divided, the first group went to pokalappara and the second to vazhachal. My group went to pokalappara and we went to the Anganwadi and interacted to the village head’s wife about the food that is available in that area ,which is famous and what all food are the children are people over there consume. Basically they told fish are available and shortage of water prevails in that region. Discussion kept going for 30 minutes and the students got to know about that place problems and available resources present in that tribal area.
We organized Plastic free campaign at Athirapilly to create awareness about plastics,we all mad placards with different slogans written on it. Rajesh Nalinakshan –DFO, Vazhachal flagged off the campaign and we walked for 1km with ply cards on our hand and chanting slogans “SAY NO TO PLASTICS”. Then one of the forest department officer told us more about the situation of plastics and how it is harming the environment. Then we went sightseeing –Athirappally waterfalls and that was a wonderful experience for us.
Two groups were made and the two had to go to different places that is first group at thavalkuzhi and the second Peringalkunnu. I went to Peringalkunnu and we put our banner and after some time the locals also came and started a solo song by one of our group member and we had a discussion on the topic honey that is how they take, why they do apart from that what else occupation they do, mostly van honey is generally found more as compared to the other honey. they told us the instrument to how they climb the tree and told when they take the and how. And later after collecting they sell at a reasonable price. Later when both the groups came together , we departed for next place that is malakkappara.
Two groups were made and the two had to go to different places that is first group at Malakkappara and the second group to Sholayar. I went to Malakkappara and forest officials came and interacted with the students on the topic construction of Athirappilly dam is applicable or not. Open discussion were carried between the forest official and the students. After that the second group also came with the required information and along with Dr. Amitav we shared all the data that we acquired about honey which we went yesterday and shared the data collected y each individual to them and had a debate between two groups that were separated at that time itself. At last everybody had the chance to experience his/her viewpoint and experience about the camp. Everybody used this opportunity and spoke.
After breakfast we visited the tea- plantation in Valparai and a nearby temple. After that we returned to our accommodation and got prepared with our evening cultural program. We took the technical items and reported to the hall which the forest office provided us to conduct the program and arranged the things and then we all got separated in pairs and went to the community to mobilize the community and invite them for the program conducted by us. After that, we started our cultural program, started with songs, dance, mono-act and street-play. I performed a solo dance and participated in the street play and lastly the members of the community showed us their traditional music and dance and many of the students joined the dance. Later at night we had camp fire in which everybody sang songs and shared their experience about the camp. This is the last day of our rural camp. We organized with association with Hornbill Foundation went successful with the help of Dr. Amitav bachchan and Students who organized from all committee. Our HOD along with 2 faculty members attended the camp and we returned to Vallikavu, Kollam next day morning.
In Morning at 9:30 am we left from Malakkappara, Tamil Nadu to Vallikavu, Kollam.
The place I stayed for 7 days was amazing because of the silence, cool and fresh air, beautiful environment, less vehicles, various kind of birds, covered with greenery, waterfalls, no mobile signal, different kind of people to interact with. The people there are nice and genuine people, although they are termed tribes or adivasi and we think adivasi are living worst or in a bad condition but when I visited vazhachal and malakkappara, they seemed not that much undeveloped as I thought, people have a helpful thinking, houses like build with using bricks and cement, roads were maintained properly. While communicating to the community they seemed happy while interacting with us. Many things were told additional which we did not know about honey, athirappilly dam case and the places around vazhachal and malakkappara. I observed how they made an artificial ladder to climb the tree to fetch honey. At night they perform this activity of fetching the honey, use lamp light as a tool to get rid of the bees and after that collect the honey.
I also interacted with the school children in a nearby school at Vazhachal and they seemed happy while interacting. The children had lot to say, just we need to start and ask some questions, then automatically the children will continue, they seemed to be innocent, behavior was good, while talking with teachers also seemed innocent. Many of the children parents are not staying with them as they are not working in vazhachal but outside cities to get more income which might not be getting for them in villages. So, some parents came weekly and some once in a month and the children are made to stay in school premises itself and food, water is provided by the school itself.
When we went to malakkppara, Tamil Nadu for organizing the cultural program, we had to mobilize a community of the tribes in order to call them for our cultural event which we organize for them. So, when we went and mobilize them and asked them we are conducting a small program at the community hall, u should come and participate ,some of them made faces as if they are not interested to come, they made a face that they don’t want to come. But we convinced them all and almost every person reached and participated in the program may it be old people or young children. After seeing our program they also showed their traditional music and dance at the end.
At on the other hand the government officials came when we invited them for a discussion with the students. Six government officers came had a discussion about athirappilly dam case. Listened many new opinions which was useful for the students in increasing their knowledge and were cooperative with us. DFO of Vazhchal forest division was the chief guest and inauguration the program spend his valuable time for us and delivered a speech and giving a brief description about the place. In the plastic free campaign, the government officers allowed as to have a march in Athirappilly and DFO flagged off the march ,more than 30 students participated. So, they gave us permission to conduct this plastic free campaign and without their support his could not be possible. The students were actively participated in the march, everybody shouted out slogans with loud voice and we were able to grab the attention off the people around us and hope that they might get an idea and will try to minimize plastic or stop plastic. People were taking photos especially the foreigners. Lastly forest officers told us more valuable knowledge about the use of plastic how they have affected and are affecting the environment and what would the consequences after a period of time. The foremost I learned is love, helping mentality and unity. If they do not have much, they don’t regret and stay happy and helping each other when times of need as nowadays people in urban cities have forgotten the term humanity, people don’t think og others but when I came here I was stuck and surprised to see the kind of unity and was happy to see. At the end they allowed us free of cost to enter the Athirappilly waterfalls and explore it and it was a wonderful experience , watching and hearing the sound of water made me a bit relaxed and for others also. I observed what and how things were going on and was a new experience for me.