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Indigenous People

Until about 50 years ago, South India’s indigenous people led an ancient existence in isolated hillsides of the Western Ghats mountain range, living off the forest for all their needs. Now their way of life and environment has changed drastically due to an influx of settlers, removal of large tracts of forest to plant tea, creation of wildlife sanctuaries and draconian forest laws.

With the destruction of their way of life, alcoholism, abuse and even suicide have increased dramatically. Many children drop out of school because of linguistic and cultural barriers, poor health, dysfunctional families and a lack of role models. In the forest, even youngsters can turn to seasonal work labouring for a low pay for invasive landlords.

The tribal people are now having to fight for the right to live on their ancestral land. There are government schemes for tribal people but many families lack the documentation, awareness and education required to access the benefits. Our partners work hard to help these communities defend their rights and claim the benefits that they are entitled to by law. 

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Community organisation is essential for long term sustainable progress


Our partners form and support women’s self-help groups and village development committees that can lobby the authorities for the documents needed to access a range of welfare benefits including: 

  • Pensions and subsidised food

  • Regular health checks

  • The right to collect forest produce

  • Basic infrastructure for roads and electricity

  • The right to own their ancestral land.


We also help with children’s education by arranging transport or hostels so they can attend school, by holding village classes, and by promoting a culture of school attendance.

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