Reaching Out to the Marginalized
October 31, 2011
Department of Social Work, Coimbatore
As the Amala Bharatam Campaign continues to tackle the problem of waste and recycling, its impact is being felt in more and more places, not just the bigger cities, but also remote villages.
Students and faculty of the Department of Social Work at Coimbatore campus recently reached out to the nearby tribal village of Chinnampathy in order to promote the recycling of plastic waste and provide awareness about its carcinogenic and environmentally harmful effects.
Seeking to create and sustain a plastic-free village, the Amrita team led two village cleanups, placing a drum where plastic waste could be deposited, instead of being littered around. A home recycling program was designed for the village youth. The drains in the village were also cleaned.
“We wholeheartedly feel that the collection of plastics in the tribal village is the foremost intervention apart from imparting awareness on aforementioned issues,” stated Madhusudanan, second-year student of MSW, who helped coordinate the effort.
“Our journey will not stop till Chinnampathy becomes a plastic free village,” he added.
Over time, the team also facilitated additional interventions including the construction of a new women’s resting area funded by the MA Math, vocational training and the promotion of government funded programs.
These interventions were presented by Madhusudanan at the UGC-sponsored national conference titled A Strategic Intervention for Improving the Marginalized – A Social Work Perspective at Karaikal during August 2011.
Two additional papers were also presented by Amrita faculty and students.
In one, T.V.N. Raghavan and B. Santhosh, second-year MSW students highlighted challenges faced by children living in the remote tribal village Iyyampathy, seeking to especially solve the problem of absenteeism in school.
The duo implemented two interventions. First, they wrote to the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) requesting an extension of bus service to Iyyampathy village. Second, they facilitated the donation of bicycles to the school for students to use.
Although TNSTC did not approve the extension right away, the donated bicycles helped students commute easily to school, reducing absenteeism.
The third paper presented by Dr. C. S. Sowndaram, Counsellor at the Coimbatore campus highlighted a study on psychosocial intervention to improve self-esteem in the visually impaired.
Thirty teenagers took part in relaxation exercises, assertiveness training and cognitive re-structuring on a picnic; self-esteem inventories before and after this intervention demonstrated its effectiveness. The importance of social inclusion to enhance self esteem and reduce cultural deviation was also highlighted.
“The visually impaired need to be a part of society, equal partners in a group where they can give and receive emotional support and competency,” the author noted.