Ganga Vadhi hails from Kil Kotagiri. She belongs to the Kota tribe. She has been working for Semmai Sudhi for the past 5 years. Previously her husband Mahadevan was a volunteer for Semmai Sudhi from whom she took over. She collects news from 26 villages in Kil Kotagiri. She also assists in helping those who cannot read in the villages. She occasionally works with the Radio Kotagiri team in collecting indigenous songs.
Kavitha hails from Pillur. She has been working for Keystone for the past 5 years. She started by working for the Nilgiris Semmai –Sudhi and then for the Conservation programme, now she Volunteers for the Community Health programme. Her interest is to work on Children’s health and wants to improve the health condition of children in the villages she works in. She has completed her Diploma in Nursing.
Shivan has been associated with Keystone since mid-2016 and is from Anaippalam village in Coonoor. He is a volunteer with the Water Resources programme and is conducting the baseline survey in 26 villages in Coonoor preparatory to developing a village water security plan.
Prakash is a 27-year-old Irula youth from Sundapatti village. He joined Keystone in August 2016 and has been assigned work in 22 villages in the Konnavakkarai area. Mainly working with the Livelihoods and Environmental Governance team, Prakash has been part of Forest Rights Act trainings, gathering information from families regarding their participation in Tribal Development Fund initiatives, and monitoring Village Savings Groups. He is also assisting the Water Resources team in conducting surveys on water use in these villages and has been mapping water sources as well.
Mahendran is 40 years old and has been working with Keystone since 2006. He hails from Mavanatham village in Hasanur. He is in charge of collecting news items for the Nilgiri Seemai Sudhi from 36 villages in the Hasanur area.
Vasantha is a 33 year old lady who has been working with Keystone since 2014. She is from Sigur and has been assigned work in 15 villages in that area. She collects news items for the Nilgiri Seemai Sudhi community newsletter. She is also very actively involved in assisting the Health and Community Wellness team in mobilizing villagers for the health camps. Vasantha also assists the Water Resources team in their surveys in the Sigur area.
Shanmugham is a 54-year-old gentleman belonging to the Irula community. He is from the Nerammokkai village and has been associated with Keystone since 2006. He is working in 42 villages in the Aracode and sources news items for the Nilgiri Seemai Sudhi. He also assists the Health and Community Wellness team by keeping track of patients in his area. He ensures that they continue their medications and motivates them continue to interact with the visiting doctors and the Health team.
Chandran is 29 years old and hails from the village of Nellimarathur. He works in 17 villages in the Pillur area. He has been associated with Keystone Foundation since 2008 and is involved in assisting a number of programmes. He began his journey with Keystone as a Nilgiri Seemai Sudhi reporter and is still continuing in that role. He has moved on to assisting the Conservation team and NNHS, a sister organisation, with village elder and awareness generation programmes. An important part of the Livelihoods and Environmental Governance team, Chandran has been part of the team involving in mobilizing Village Savings Groups, conducting trainings on the Forest Rights Act and trainings on bio-inputs for organic agriculture. Chandran also assists the Health and Community Wellness and Water Resources teams in their surveys.
She is from Sigur and has been assigned work in 7 villages in that area. She has been working with the Community Health programme for over a year. Thangamani always wanted to have a job that would serve other people. This is why she has chosen to work for Health programme. She also helps the Water programme at Keystone by collecting data and monitoring water resources in Sigur.
Muthish Kuttan belongs to the Toda tribe. He hails from Bikkupatty Mund. He has been contributing and working for the Nilgiri Semma – Sudhi for the past 11 years. He collects news from 64 toda hamlets in the Nilgiris. He enjoys taking the buffalos for grazing like any other Toda.
Rilson is based in Kotagiri and has been working with the Water Resources team since December 2016. He will be working in the Coonoor area on the springs and wells inventory and maintenance database. They will also be engaging with the community to spread awareness on water conservation. Rilson has completed his BSc (CT) and is interested in travel and field work which is what drew him to Keystone’s water programme. He is also interested in music and plays the keyboard and guitar.
Janakiamma (as she is popularly known) is a Kurumba woman elder in her fifties who has been a leading light in her community for many years. She has been active in both Baviyur and Vellaricombai. She has been involved since the past decade building young leadership amongst her people. She has worked hard to promote traditional systems of governance and revive important events in the community to keep their pride and identity alive. Protection of Sacred Groves and their importance has been one of the main elements of this work.
Janakiamma has been involved closely with the Culture and People programme of Keystone Foundation and documented folklore, like songs, stories, riddles, proverbs and other important information to keep oral traditions alive. She is involved in collecting news from indigenous communities and distributing the news to the same. She also collects news and photos about government related works and appeals to respective department to improve their implementation. She has been specially supporting women in her community, during time of emotional need and giving them the strength to stand on their own.
She was selected to be a Director in the Board of the Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited, wholly owned by indigenous people in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. In 2016, in recognition of her significant contribution to the community, she was awarded the Paul K. Feyerabend Award – “A World of Solidarity is Possible.”
Proving to be a bridge between the traditional and the modern, Janakiamma supports the philosophy that, “change is inevitable, but it is how we transition that matters”
Keystone Foundation Keystone Centre, PB 35
Groves Hill Road, Kotagiri 643 217
The Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India