Rajapalayam AMMACHI lab Center Launch - Field Report

Name of the event: Outreach; Course launch: Ornamental Jewelry Making
Date of Visit / event: April 7th – 10th
Places visited / place of event: Jss Rajapalayam in Virudhanagar District, Tamil Nadu
Visited by: Kripasagar, Amal, Ajaykumar
Purpose of the visit: Centre Setup, Conduct Outreach, Course Launch, Arrange Industry Visit & Explored other Marketing Opportunities for beneficiaries.

Basic Visit Information:

Type of the visit: Official
No. of Centers visited: 1
No. of Beneficiaries: 18
Visit duration: 4 Days

Persons met during the visit (examples):

  1. VijayaLakshmi (Jss Director),
  2. Dr.Chitra (Consultant Obstetrication & Gynaecologist of Chitra Hospital Rajapalayam),
  3. Shamala (Runs afterschool camp for local children, family are community leaders who operate trust that runs schools, technical colleges, cotton mills, etc)
  4. Krishna Swami (Jss Program Manager)
  5. Mrs.M.Vimala ( Facilitator )


Events Summary

  • Day 1
    • Center setup
      • Facility (tables, chairs, electricity, etc)
      • IT (computers, related hardware, software check)
      • Materials (jewelry kits, notepads, forms/surveys, etc)
      • Outreach prep (coordinate food, set up hall, sound/lighting, invite speakers)
      • Meeting with JSS on course operation
  • Amrita JSS Rajapalayam is providing both facilities and local support for our new center here. Mrs. Vijayalakshmi, director of the Rajapalayam Amrita JSS branch, provided much of the support for the Rajapalayam center launch and in recommending the first participants for the course. During the outreach and inauguration programs, she and her staff provided invaluable assistance to the WE team. Several in depth conversations were had with Mrs. Vijayalakshmi throughout the field visit to both explain to her what the project entails, and to take note of her suggestions for how to adapt our course operations to the local needs. As JSS has already worked closely with the new participants of the WE project, they have an understanding of what is needed and how to best manage the group dynamics. Mrs. Vijayalakshmi is also very well connected and networked in the Rajapalayam area and has suggested excellent industries for the course Industry Visit, as well as community leaders in women’s health and children’s education to provide LEE in Community support.
    • Facilitator introduction

The facilitator, VImala, is fresh from her TTT that was held only the week before at the WE project headquarters in Amritapuri. It was a short reunion, but the TTT had made a great impact on her, and her ease and confidence in dealing with the WE team was wonderful and made working with her a delight. The WE team reviewed with her the daily lesson plan and made sure she was confident with the computers and the software for the course. After clearing any doubts, the team went over the Ideal Village and Who am I activities to make sure she had a full grasp on the goals of the activities. All went very well.

  • Day 2
    • Outreach event
      • Tea/snacks
      • Video presentation
      • Inspiration talk by WE team and Mrs. Vijayalakshmi
      • Lunch
      • Met with local Dr. (possible LEE expert)

Dr. Chittra is a premier doctor (obstetrician and gynecologist) who has come back from her medical studies in the big cities to settle in her hometown of Rajapalayam. She is an accomplished doctor and graduated at the top of her class. At her graduation, she received the gold medal award for academic excellence from former Indian President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kallam. That she decided to come back to the relatively small, backwards town of Rajapalayam demonstrates her interest in community service. She would be an excellent rolemodel for the WE Project participants in both community service and as an exemplary Empowered Woman. After the Outreach Program, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi took the WE team to her office and introduced her. Dr Chitra was invited to the course launch the following day to participate in the program. She readily agreed.

After participating in the course inauguration and a speaking with the WE staff on the project components, Dr Chitra has lent her full support to the project. She was especially touched by the WE milestone 2 video and the MoVE project, and would like to contribute in whatever way she can to helping the women taking the course. The WE team will help to coordinate a special LEE workshop with her in the future on women’s health, and hopefully work more with her in the future on this topic.

  • Industry visit

JSS Rajapalayam has held steady and regular trainings for women in various vocations for nearly 10 years. They have a high success rate, and keep in good contact with their graduates. One of the graduates from their ornamental jewelry-making course has just opened her own fancy and jewelry shop with the help of her family, and so the WE team decided to make a visit. The shop was neat and well organized and had a nice display of her hand-made items. She has done well enough to start importing other jewelry designs from Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai. All of these attributes make her stall a perfect place for the WE participants’ Industry Visit. The JSS team took us to a couple of other jewelry shops nearby that their graduates also work at, giving the WE team a good understanding for what is available locally, and what kinds of places are good for industry visits. The WE team hopes that a network between the JSS graduates and the WE Project graduates can form, thus strengthening the earning potential of both of the groups, while also giving the WE participants an education on what it takes to open a successful shop.

  • Day 3
    • Course Launch
      • Tea/snacks
      • Guest speeches
        • Dr Chitra: “This is a golden opportunity for you, and especially to learn these skills on a computer is very useful. Because of this, you should take advantage of this opportunity and enjoy the course. There is a lot of potential to do well, but your success is completely in your hands. All the very best for you to succeed.”
        • Introduction to course
        • Mouse tutorial
        • Application forms given
        • Tour of class for guests
        • Shyamala visit (possible LEE expert and collaborator with children)

Mrs. Vijayalakshmi is very well connected in Rajapalayam, and one of her close friends, Mrs. Shyamala, happens to run a summer camp for children that focuses on strong moral values and leadership skills. Mrs. Shyamala’s family is also part of a family trust that operates a set of schools (uKG à technical college), a textile mill, and a children’s library. They are very active in the community, and when approached about the WE Project, they were enthusiastic to help. Mrs. Shyamala also runs a small household goods and jewelry shop and will share her knowledge and business skills with the participants of the WE Project. She would also like the graduates to come and speak about LEE topics to her summer camp students when they can, as it will strengthen both the children’s understanding of community issues and provide a platform for the WE Project participants to share their knowledge and help the community. Shyamala and her family are a wonderful local resource for the project, and a relationship that will hopefully be cultivated as the project progresses in Rajapalayam.

  • Day 4
    • Second day of class
      • Icebreaker
      • Ideal village

On day two of the course (day 4 of the visit to Rajapalayam), the participants did the “Ideal Village” activity. In this, they were to split into small groups and draw what they envision as their perfect or ideal village. Next to their drawing, they then made a list of differences they see between their actual village and their ideal one, focusing on problems and challenges. After this, the facilitator and one of the WE team introduced the “circle of control” concept by drawing three concentric circles: the inner-most circle represents situations or issues that are completely within ones own control to direct; the second circle represents those situations that one cannot control alone and need support to confront; the outer circle represents situations that one has no control over. The participants were to sort their list of problems into these three circles, deciding where each one goes as a group. After the sorting is complete, the facilitator and WE team ask the group to chose one problem that is in circle 2 or 3 and come up with an action plan to move it closer inside the circle of control; basically, they must find out how to make their lives more within their own control, focusing on community issues.

The group did an excellent job at this activity and came up with the following list of problems (sorted into the circles of control:

  1. (total control):
    1. Need to have more awareness of education
    2. Need to clean the village
    3. Need to help the poor people through a trust
    4. (need support to control)
      1. Need a ration shop for the villagers
      2. Need more government hospitals
      3. (no control over)
        1. Need to develop more secondary schools
        2. Need to create a transport facility, drinking water facilities, and electric facilities
        3. Need to create awareness for sexual harassment


The group spent most of the time discussing these points and even started discussing how they want to do some activities on the first set of problems. Unfortunately, the groups ran out of time before they could come up with an action plan for problems in circles 2 and 3, but the facilitator will make sure they do this in the next class.

Major findings

16 participants from the first batch sat down as a group for some interview questions by the WE project staff. Kripasagar and Ajaykumar asked the questions:

first question: why did you join the course?

I want to learn a profession

I want to get self-confidence

If we learn this skill we can sell products and make a living

I can become self-sufficient and independent

second: do you have any fears about taking this course?

At first we were afraid of using the computers, but now (after the mouse tutorial) we are confident.

Are there any family restrictions on taking this course

My father said no because I am already enrolled in a nursing course

She still has interest, that is why she is here

No others have family restrictions

Is there any one who has taken this kind of course before?

3 people: 1 Nursing and 2 beautician

Peculiarities of TN women

The women can speak many languages here

We wear saris

Is it nice to be a woman in TN?

No clear answer

Some say that in the family, the men should take all the major decisions. Is this what happens here?

Men take decisions, but the woman can share her opinion freely

If the husband takes decision you don’t agree with, what do you do?

I will be angry

There will be a discussion where I try to convince him of my opinion

What are the major problems faced by men in TN?

It is difficult to get money

Alcohol and drugs are a big problem

What are the reasons for alcoholism

Problems between husband and wife

Tiredness due to work

Parties (marriage functions)

What affect does this have on children?

The children get diseases easily (father smokes around child)

A chance that children start drinking and smoking

Are you confident to speak in front of people about LEE topics?

We can speak in public only if we are in a group

With family we can speak alone

Is there something you would like to do but have fear

Computer training

Not clear

Could you become a role-model?

Only one person raised their hand

Do any of you want to make money using these skills after the course?

All said yes

Many want to start a business together to sell fancy things

3 said they wanted to start their own business. 


May 13, 2013


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