Issues faced by cattle rearers and farmers have long been ignored and the NGO Vivasaayanadu aims to bring a change by providing immediate and easily accessible solutions. Volunteers take part in planting trees, cleaning water bodies, and spreading awareness about alternative farming. They also lend support to the families of farmers who committed suicide
CHENNAI: It was in the aftermath of the jallikattu protests in January which had mustered huge support for the farming community, that a group of techies realised it would be extremely hard to sustain the same kind of support over a large period. “The protests were essentially also about the rights of farmers and cattle rearers, but their issues got carried away in the whirlwind of the protests,” says Vetrivel Palani. “We realised there were no immediate solutions available to help farmers.
So as professionals, we decided to create an NGO and a website that would be dedicated to farmers’ causes.” The IT professional and a group of his Chennai-based peers from Zoho decided to make an impact where it was worth, forming the nascent NGO Vivasaayanadu, which has since committed to promote the cause of farmers.
Based out of Perungalathur, its aim is to include lending support to the families of farmers who committed suicide in rural districts, while also focusing on issues affecting the community closer to home such as cleaning ponds, water bodies and spreading awareness about organic farming.
“We initially did a ground visit to several districts such as Pudukottai and Thiruvallur to gather information about the condition of farmers’ families. We pooled in money and supported 40 families in the form of essential provisions,” adds Vetri.
However, they soon realised that merely supporting them would not do any good as there needed to be awareness of proper methods as well. “We looked at the water bodies in the surrounding regions of Chennai, and saw that some of the lesser known tanks (that were, until the last few years, providing clean water) had started drying up or were poorly maintained,” says Sathya K, another volunteer. “We started efforts to clean them so that it could actually benefit the farmers. Besides this, we also started planting trees and clearing the surrounding areas of Seemai Karuvelam Maram, which is directly responsible for drying up of the bodies.” And all of this was done on weekends, away from the busy schedule of their daily lives.
Two ponds they cleaned were in Mudichur, on the outskirts of Chennai and in Madurantankam, Kanchipuram district — the latter of which stands out for the volunteers because of the support they got from the civic authorities. “The municipal commissioner there was extremely supportive; she gave approval for the lake cleaning within 20 minutes, besides regularly following up with us to know the status of the cleaning,” recalls Vetri.”
The NGO has close to 1,000 registered volunteers, and as of now, it runs on the pooled contributions of its volunteers, though they are open to donations. “All records of our funds are documented and uploaded onto the website, and eventually we will also be able to send a report to our donors,” says Vetri.