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National Safe Motherhood Day 2014 Observed in Chinnasengadu Village

The ultimate goal of safe motherhood is to ensure zero maternal mortality. In order to achieve this goal, efforts need to be focused more on areas with poor accessibility to emergency care. Building awareness on the responsibilities of the family and the community in this regard may contribute significantly to this cause. The theme for this year’s campaign is “Improving Maternal Health by Empowering Women”. In keeping with the above goal and the theme, a campaign was launched in Chinnasengadu village by volunteer Gowri, with the active support of volunteer Thangam. Here is an account of the event.

The National Safe Motherhood Day 2014 was observed on 15 May 2014 in Chinnasengadu village by volunteer Gowri at her house. Seventeen local women participated in the event, besides volunteers Abirami, Podu, Jeeva, Thangam and Muniyandi.

Volunteer Gowri welcomed the gathering. Volunteer Thangam explained the theme of this year. She dwelt at length on how empowerment of women could be achieved by carefully addressing the intergenerational gender gaps, following a Life Cycle Approach. She used a chart to explain the different inputs needed for the female child at the different stages of her life cycle. Finally she conveyed to the participants the importance of the roles and responsibilities of ever family and the community in being alert and prepared to handle any emergency.

Thereafter, the volunteers and a local woman put up a skit bringing out the difference between a girl child who gets all the needed inputs at the different stages of her life thanks to her knowledgeable parents and another one who does not get such inputs and how she suffers in her life.

Volunteer Thangam then recapitulated the important points to be kept in mind relating to ante-natal care, planning for tackling emergencies and other risk factors and exhorted the participants to bear these points in view and act upon them suitably.

Volunteer Gowri proposed a vote of thanks.

World Water Day 2014 Observed in Elaneerkunram Village

em>Water has always been a scarce resource. It is getting to be scarcer now. Population growth, increasing destruction of forest cover, indiscriminate felling of trees, increased run-off of rain water in to the sea due to loss of storage capacity in the reservoirs, water pollution, water infestation and water waste are some of the major causes for this situation. This is of particular concern to a state like Tamilnadu, where none of the rivers originate and most of the rainwater runs off in to the sea. There has been a long tradition here dating back to several centuries of the construction and maintenance of several large, medium and small tanks as also wells for purposes of irrigation. Compared to their numbers at the time of Independence, they have dwindled in size to about less than a third, thanks in part to the complacency that followed the construction of huge irrigation dams after Independence and the consequent neglect of the above-mentioned reservoirs. The age-old maintenance system practised for centuries slowly fell in to disuse. All these resulted in heavy silting up of the reservoirs, leading not only to a lowering of surface storage capacity but also a high depletion of the water table all along the catchment areas. The increased diversion of silted tank beds for purposes such as housing, industrial development and other infrastructure development has further exacerbated this problem. As for drinking water, availability and accessibility of safe drinking water, particularly to the weaker groups of population has become a major concern of public health. Anakavur block is no exception to the above general water scenario of the state.

Against the above background, it was but meet that the Akkur Children’s Group and the local group of Elaneerkunram decided to put up an exhibition, a skit and a ‘therukoothu’ performance ( a form of traditional street theatre) focusing on the problem areas concerning water in observance of the World Water Day 2014. The event was held in Elaneerkunram village. Here is an account on the details of the event.

Volunteer K. Muniyandi took keen interest on developing a therukoothu performance, adapting a storyline from the Virata Parva of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. What is innovative about this effort is that he got the members of the Akkur children’s group trained by two senior therukoothu artists of the village, M/s. Jothi and Balaji. The trained children performed this play in Elaneerkunram on the 22nd March 2014 in observance of the World Water Day and it was very well received by the people of the village. Some of the members of the public honoured some of the well performing children on-the-spot by giving them small gifts, as per local custom. This was done in recognition of their acting talents. The storyline relates to the sufferings of people due to water scarcity and thus lends itself to effective integration of modern messages relating to water saving practices as also to the safety of drinking water. The key roles in this performance were played by Chinraj, Chandru, Surya, Paranthaman, Vinod, Ajit, Guna, Gopi and Praveen – all members of the Akkur children’s group. All the important messages relating to water saving practices, maintenance of irrigation tanks, afforestation and ensuring the safety of drinking water were well integrated in to this storyline. Volunteer Ramamurthy helped with the arrangements for the stage and props, ably supported by the local female youth group members Indira, Nalini and Sarala. An estimated 200 villagers watched the performances and the exhibits.

Earlier, some girls belonging to the local children’s group performed a dance number. This was followed by a skit performed by them. The theme of the skit was about two families – one using only protected water for drinking and the other one using unprotected water, with the result that whereas the former family keeps good health, the latter one suffers from water borne diseases and ends up spending unnecessarily on medical treatment.

The other notable attraction of the event was the exhibits put by the members of the children’s group, displaying models of rainwater harvesting methods, diverting domestic waste water in to leech pits and small backyard farms and the harms of letting out untreated industrial effluents. These models were prepared by the children using thermocole blocks, water paint, pins and other locally available materials. The villagers evinced keen interest in these exhibits and sought several clarifications from the children.

Ms. Indira of Elaneerkunram proposed a vote of thanks at the end.


International Women’s Day 2014 – Anakavur Team Honours Volunteer Mrs. Abirami for Her Outstanding Service

The UN has observed that the International Women’s Day is increasingly turning out to be an occasion to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. In keeping with this trend, the Anakavur Team decided to recognize and honour the role played by Volunteer Abirami in her own village. It may be recalled here that a
write-up on her services as a volunteer appeared in this blog earlier in two parts (on June 21st and 22nd, 2012). This time, her outstanding services have been honoured with an award and a citation. It is hoped that this act will not only encourage her to continue with her good work but may also inspire others to volunteer to do service to their village communities. The following is a report on the event sent in by Volunteer Thangam.

The International Women’s Day was observed in Perumbalai village on March 10, 2014 at the local Primary School. The event was marked by honouring Volunteer Ms. P. Abirami for her outstanding service to her village community. The local Panchayat President Ms. Renuka Balakrishnan, the local Anganwadi Worker Ms. Tilakavati, Anganwadi Helper Ms. Kamsala, Headmistress of the Primary School Ms. Santhakumari, Akkur Volunteer Mr. K. Muniyandi and 53 women from Perumbalai village graced the occasion by their presence.

To start with, I (C.M. Thangam) spoke about the importance of empowering women in order to ensure equal opportunities for their development. I used the chart on ‘Life Cycle Approach’ to drive home the importance of ensuring that the relevant inputs on health, nutrition and education are provided to the female children at the different age-points in their lives – starting from pregnancy of the mother, proper ante-natal care, safe delivery, first hour breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, complementary feeding thereafter, nutrition, growth monitoring, pre-schooling, primary schooling, middle and higher secondary schooling, further higher education, adolescent care, marriage at or after age 21, etc.

This was followed by the presentation ceremony. The award and citation were presented to Abirami jointly by Panchyat President Ms. Renuka Balakrishnan, the Headmistress of the local Primary School Ms. Santhakumari, the Anganwadi Woker Ms. Tilakavati and myself. I read out the citation and honored Abirami with a shawl. A gift to Abirami sent in by Venkat Sir was presented to her by volunteer K. Muniyandi. In her acceptance speech, Abirami thanked the Anakavur Team for honoring her and stated that she felt very happy and rededicated herself to continue her services to the village community.

A vote of thanks was proposed by Ms. Sheela Narayanan, who had been a former member of the local children’s group.

Anakavur Observes International Mother Language Day 2014

The first person with whom the new born baby tries to make vocal contacts in order to give vent to its demands, feelings and desires is its mother. Such vocal expressions are in due course articulated by the mother through a process of teaching-learning in to a language which usually happens to be the child’s mother tongue or the mother language. The child naturally feels quite comfortable to communicate and learn in its mother language. The importance of mother tongue instruction in the early years of schooling is emphasized in the findings of studies, research and reports such as the annual UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report.
UNESCO defines bilingual and multilingual education as “the use of two or more languages as mediums of instruction. The Organization adopted the term ‘multilingual education’ in 1999 to refer to the use of at least three languages in education: the mother tongue; a regional or national language and an international language.”

The Anakavur Team lays stress on the mother language being the medium of instruction at the different levels. At the same time, it also encourages the learning of other languages in order to strengthen one’s communication and learning skills in respect of other language groups. With the advent of globalization, multilingual skills will certainly be an added advantage to any one, particularly in academic, social and commercial spheres.

The Day was observed in Akkur by volunteer Muniyandi on the 20th February 2014 and in Cheyyatraivendran by volunteer Thangam on the 21st February 2014. The following is a summary of the reports on the events sent by them:


The event was held by the members of the children’s group in the local school. Other students and teachers also participated in the event. The importance of mother language as a medium of instruction and the advantage of learning other languages to the extent possible were highlighted during the discussions. Some members of the children’s group gave a demonstration of how some of the words of day-to-day use, such as ‘good day’, ‘thanks’, ‘your name’ and ‘your occupation’, were spoken in four different states of India in their local languages as also in other countries such as France, Poland, Kenya and Thailand in their local languages.

Another group of children drew the pictures of famous Tamil poets and Tamil scholars. Out of these, four pictures were selected as well done.

These were followed by the performance of two skits and some songs by the children, focusing on the advantages of knowing other languages besides one’s own mother language.

Volunteers Rajagopal, Manikandan and Mukundan also participated in the event. The local school teacher thanked all the participants for the useful event.


The event was held on the 21st February 2014 at the local Middle School. About 60 students, teachers and volunteers participated in the event. Volunteer Gowri of Chinnasengadu spoke about the activities of the Anakavur Process. Thangam spoke about the importance of mother language as a medium of instruction and about the advantages of learning other languages. The latter used laminated flash cards to explain the different languages spoken in different countries of the world.

Students of VIII std. were then taught some select words in different languages of India and in other select countries of the world. The students and the teachers welcomed this idea of introducing other languages through select words.

The students then put up a performance of song and dance on the importance of unity amidst diversity.

Anakavur Observes International Volunteer Day 2013

Volunteerism can be construed to be an outlet for expression of the spirit of selfless service that inheres in the humans. Amidst the quotidian, rapacious rat race of modern life where selfishness drives most human actions, acts of volunteerism, even if small in size and scope, coruscate as bright spots of hope for the future of humanity.

In order to encourage and appreciate voluntary work, the United Nations established the International Volunteer Day (IVD) in 1985. Since then the Day is observed on the 5th December every year globally. The Day recognizes volunteerism in its diversity as well as the values that sustain it: free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity.

The Anakavur Volunteers observed the Day on the 5th December 2013 in Cheyyar, a small town, which serves as the taluk (a circle for revenue administration) headquarters. The following is a summary of the reports filed by 43 volunteers who participated in the event.

The two volunteer-coordinators, Muniyandi and Thangam, had consultations earlier on the subject with Venkat, who also trained them specifically for the event. Since all the 43 volunteers wished to work in one place on the IVD, it was decided to choose Cheyyar town for the purpose. Incidentally, it also provided an opportunity for the volunteers to do some service in a town, for the first time. It actually proved to be an experience of a different kind for all of them and they were very excited about it, particularly for a few of them who were not sure at the beginning as to why they should be doing such a thing.

The volunteers were divided in to four groups and posted at the market place, the bus stand, the taluk office and at the State Bank of India Branch office. They rendered mainly the following services to the public at the above places:

• Helping the elderly persons and physically challenged persons in crossing the road
• Helping the above in boarding buses
• Helping the illiterate persons in filling in forms at offices like the taluk office and the bank

The volunteers have helped totally 110 persons on that day.

All of them felt immensely happy at being able to help those who were in need of such help. By way of examples, a few incidents are cited below:

• In the first case, a volunteer helped an old day in crossing the road at a busy place. Cheyyar town is usually cramped with traffic of all kinds in its narrow streets and it is chaotic. It is quite a task for the elderly and the challenged persons to cross roads in such a situation. The old lady, therefore, felt very happy and she not only thanked the volunteer but also blessed him with all her heart

• In the second instance, another volunteer noticed a two-wheeler rider hitting another of a similar kind and falling down under the impact. The volunteered immediately rushed to his help and helped him get up. He also gave him some water to drink. The rider was very happy. A cop who noticed all this also had also a word of praise for this act of the volunteer

• In another incident a volunteer helped another old lady in boarding the right bus. This act invited the hearty blessings of the old day to the volunteer

• A few volunteers helped in the proper and orderly parking of two-wheelers in front of the State Bank of India, in order to allow for the free flow of traffic on the road

These are but a few examples of services rendered by the volunteers. The 110 services referred are mostly of such and similar other kinds.

M. Sureshkumar, a student- volunteer from Akkur, who was posted at the bus stand, has this to say:
“I noticed a blind person who was trying to find out the correct bus to board, but found the task quite difficult .I offered to help him and he gladly accepted the offer. He wanted to know who we were and added that he belonged to an association which would very much like to utilize our services. He welcomed us to their upcoming event on the 15th December. He thanked me and our Group for rendering such useful service. He gave me his mobile number and requested us to do similar work during their upcoming event as also on the World Day for the Challenged Persons. This was a new experience for me and I derived immense satisfaction as a result.”



In sum, the Day proved to be a memorable one for all the participants. They have thoroughly enjoyed doing such service to the public – particularly to those who are in need of such services. They would now like to continue to do such services whenever the opportunity comes up. This augurs well for the Anakavur Process and for the people in need of help!

Collection and Use of Evidence for development efforts by Anakavur Volunteers

The Anakavur Process seeks to identify and motivate local volunteers for improving the quality of life of people of their own communities, particularly focusing on the weak and the vulnerable. This is done by training the volunteers in the crucial areas of education, health, nutrition, water, hygiene, sanitation and environment. Knowledge and information are imparted to them on these subjects with particular focus on reaching the weak and vulnerable groups. Women’s empowerment forms an important cross-cutting issue which is given great importance. It is viewed in the broader sense of a life cycle approach to bridge the inter-generational gender gaps. Since the volunteers live and work in the same community and form part of the same socio-cultural milieu, their words are most likely to carry greater credibility and conviction to those who care to listen.

In order to sustain such credibility, the volunteers need to support their information with reliable evidence. For instance, the information they provide to children’s groups, or adolescent girls groups, or youth groups, or women’s groups are always supported by empirical evidence accessed from external sources such as the WHO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, the various line ministries of the government and research organizations of repute. However, whenever they have to refer to local situations, many a time, disaggregated, timely and reliable local-level data may not be available to them from such external sources, particularly those relating to local-specific indicators. Often the data that is collected from target population by external agencies are neither shared nor used by the community. Even the community based approaches tend to assume data as something that is external to the community and therefore there are very little attempts to make the community collect and own such data. In the Anakavur process volunteers are trained to collect data on regular basis on wide ranging issues including education, health, and other demographic data direct from primary sources. The data they collect is linked to their work in their villages. They get trained for the purpose and they maintain data sans high tech equipment but definitely use data on a regular basis for the work in their respective villages. They get training in basic survey research methods – quantitative and qualitative methods, group discussion, observation, sampling, questionnaire design, pre-testing, interviewing techniques, data processing, interpretation, report writing and use of evidence for their development work.

The following is a brief note on a small sample survey which volunteer Thangam has just completed in order to assess the impact of her innovative initiative to combat iron deficiency anaemia among adolescent girls in Purisai village.

Thangam has selected a one-third sample of mothers of adolescent girls who participated in the programme for carrying out this study. Earlier, she had prepared a questionnaire, which was discussed with her trainer and then pre-tested. Based on the inputs of the pre-test, the questionnaire was revised and finalized. She has now completed the interviews with the selected mothers and is about to start work on preparation of a tabulation plan. After discussion and approval of the plan, she would complete tabulation. The final step would be to interpret the tabulated data and write the report.

The findings of this study would tell her as to how effective her innovation has been in changing the diet practices of household in favour of including in their menus on a regular basis locally available iron-rich food items which are also low cost.

The study would pinpoint aspects which need to be further strengthened in her innovative efforts on which she may work further in order to strengthen her programme. This effort shows how important is evidence-based data considered for planning and reformulating innovative strategies in the Anakavur Process.

This one such example of the kind of data that is collected by volunteers and how they use such evidence for their community-based development efforts.

Akkur Village Observes No Tobacco Day 2013

It has been estimated that tobacco kills nearly half of its users. It kills nearly 6 million people per year. There are about one billion smokers in the world. More than 80% of them live in middle and low income countries. As for India, nearly one million die every year due to tobacco use. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS – 2009-10), the current tobacco use in any form in India was estimated as 34.6% of adults; 47.9% of males and 20.3% of females. Other studies show that even brief advice from health professionals can reduce tobacco use by 30%. Effective awareness building can prevent premature deaths and diseases due to this cause. Realizing this and taking into account the large scale tobacco use found in Akkur, K. Muniyandi, the volunteer, took the initiative to start off with an awareness building exercise among the adults in his own village to coincide with the World No Tobacco Day 2013. The following is an account what happened on that day in Akkur.
A meeting was held on the 31st of May 2013 at the DLA Durai Nursery and Primary School, Akkur, to observe the World No Tobacco Day. The objective of this meeting was to bring in to focus the harms of tobacco use and motivate the users to quit such behavior. There were 26 participants in the event, composed of local adults including youths. C.M. Thangam, the volunteer of Cheyyatraivendran, supported the event by registering the participants and later by welcoming them.

K. Muniyandi made a slide presentation on the theme using power point projection for the purpose. He highlighted the harmful chemicals that went into the production of certain tobacco products. He explained that of the 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke, about 60 were known or suspected to be carcinogens. The physical and mental damages that could be caused by tobacco use were also highlighted.

After the presentation, the participants were divided into two groups for discussing further the possible ways and means of prevention of tobacco use in the community. Some of the main views that emerged from the group work were:

• The Government could impose a total ban on the manufacture and sale of tobacco products
• Long-time users found it difficult to quit; one deterrent could be by banning the sales of such products at the village outlets
• For many, this was the first time exposure on the harms of tobacco use; they would certainly try to quit the habit gradually
• Addicts found it difficult to quit even gradually. They needed more effective counseling in this regard
• Such awareness building exercises could be done in schools as part of the syllabus among 11th and 12th standard students

Muniyandi thanked all the participants for their interest and promised to follow this up after a month.

“Every Woman Counts” – Perumbalai Village Observes the National Safe Motherhood Day 2013

Ms. P. Abirami of Perumbalai is one of the senior and committed volunteers of the Anakavur Process. Readers may recall the excellent, perspicuous and experiential account written by her on being a volunteer, which appeared in this blog in two parts on June 21 and 22, 2012. She is verily a coruscating model of what a motivated and sangfroid volunteer can achieve, silently though. She has observed the National Safe Motherhood Day in her village, supported as always, by the indomitable Ms. Thangam. Here is a note by Ms. Abirami on the event.

We observed the National Safe Motherhood Day 2013 on the 11th April 2013 at the Anganwadi Centre (nutrition centre-cum-pre-school) of our village. This year’s theme for the Day was “every woman counts”. I think this is important because a casual perusal of data on maternal mortality may show that our state of Tamilnadu is doing much better in this regard as compared to several other states. But to me that is no big deal. I fully subscribe to the view that every woman counts and there should be zero maternal mortality. Therefore, I thought that this was a welcome opportunity to build awareness on this point in our own village. Even though there is general awareness in our village on antenatal care, institutional delivery and postnatal care, it is not the same when it comes to coping with maternal emergencies. So, we wanted to focus on this aspect this time.

There was a gathering of 36 local women, mostly of the reproductive age group. A few adolescent girls were also there. The local Panchayat President, Ms. Renuka; the local anganwadi worker Ms. Tilakavathi and the volunteer of Kovilur Ms. Podu also participated in the event. I welcomed the gathering and told them about the importance of observing this day as a reminder to the households and the community that every woman counted and had to be protected during pregnancy and child birth.

Ms. Thangam spoke extensively about mother care, covering aspects like antenatal care, institutional delivery, postnatal care, etc; but laid particular stress on the aspect of birth preparedness. In rural areas such as ours, risk factors normally go either unnoticed or uncared for and consequently emergency preparedness is lacking. She dwelt at length on the designated PHCs which serve as basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care (BEmONC) centres and on the hospitals which serve as comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care (CEmONC) centres. She underlined the need for all care givers at home and in the community to know which were the nearest such centres as also note down their contact telephone numbers for ready reference and use in emergencies for requesting for services such as that of an ambulance. This, she said, was an essential aspect of emergency preparedness and it could contribute greatly to avoiding maternal and child mortality.

Thangam also demonstrated on how to assess the risk factor of short stature, as an example of assessment and referral of high risk maternal cases and stressed the need for antenatal care to identify risk factors in pregnant women and refer high risk cases to designated health centres for appropriate care and treatment.

The participants appreciated the importance of the information provided and they interacted in the discussions with great interest. Ms. Tilakavati, the anganwadi worker proposed a vote of thanks.

Earlier, volunteer Podu had formally registered all the participants.

I hope to follow up this event by closely monitoring each and every pregnancy in our village in order to ensure that emergency preparedness is on high alert. Yes, indeed; for me as also for volunteers Thangam and Podu, every woman counts!

P. Abirami

Women’s Day Observed Once Again On Demand in Kovilur Village

The success of the Women’s Day observed on 8th March 2013 at the Mulagiripattu Anganwadi Centre
(nutrition-cum-preschool) appears to have caught the imagination of others, egging them on to hold similar sessions in their places. Ms. Dharani, Anganwadi Worker of Kovilur has been one such motivated person. She joined hands with Ms. Podu, the volunteer of Kovilur and organized a meeting of women on 23rd March 2013. Here is an account of this motivation-driven meeting.

The Women’s Day was observed again on demand at the Kovilur Anganwadi Centre on the 23rd March 2013. The way that Volunteer Thangam explained the Life Cycle Approach to empowerment of women in that meeting has apparently created a demand for such meetings in other places. Ms. Dharani, the Anganwadi Worker of Kovilur is the one who came up to me with such a demand. Acceding to my request Thangam unhesitatingly volunteered to help us in organizing this meeting.

There were 25 participants. With a view to provoking some thinking on the subject on the part of the local women, Thangam distributed to them white slips of paper and asked them to write down what they thought were the important things that women should have in order to lead a good life and achieve empowerment. It is interesting to note that the qualifications of the participants ranged from V std. to M.A., B. Ed. Almost every one mentioned about the need for a house, food, water supply, clothes, etc. However, none wrote down anything about women’s status at home and at the village community level. So, Thangam took on from there and gradually built upon the concept of real empowerment and the important role of the various inputs indicated in the chart for enabling women towards attaining such empowerment. The participants listened with enthusiasm.
Thangam explained the need for ensuring that the different inputs needed by the females were made available to them at the different points in their life, starting from ante-natal care, through institutional delivery, breast feeding and complementary feeding of the child, nutrition, weighing, growth monitoring, immunization, pre-schooling, primary and secondary schooling, higher secondary and further higher education, adolescence, age at marriage at 21 years and then the cycle coiling back to that woman becoming pregnant in her turn and so on. She explained at length the nature of these different inputs at the different stages with the help of a chart, which was well appreciated by the participants.

Volunteer Podu and the anganwadi worker also spoke about need for the local women to support their activities. The response from the participants was very positive.

An important feature of this event was that the request to hold such a meeting in the anganwadi centre came from the anganwadi worker, which augurs well for the proper development of women and children of the village.

Ms. Podu (with inputs from Ms. Thangam).

Anakavur Children Articulate Efforts to Conserve Sparrows

Inspired by the media reports on the dwindling population of the sparrows, highlighted as part of the observance of the World Sparrows Day on March 20, 2013, the Children’s Groups of Anakavur have evinced keen interest in taking urgent efforts to conserve them. Volunteer Muniyandi has taken the initiative to talk to the children of all the groups in his area about the problem. The latter, in turn, have responded positively and enthusiastically to do something about it. Here is an account on what they have done.

In connection with the World Sparrows Day 2013, I started in advance a new activity of talking to all the children’s groups in my area about the perceptible and disquieting decline in the population of the sparrows, not only globally but also in the context of our own Anakavur block. I explained to them the possible causes of such decline, such as urbanization, non-availability of food grains as also non-availability of suitable space for building their nests, etc., and about the efforts taken by conservationists world over to provide such facilities to them.

The children expressed their genuine concern at the fast dwindling numbers of sparrows in their own villages and have vowed to protect this hyper-active cute little species in whatever ways they can. Almost all of them have started looking for such birds very consciously wherever they go and have started taking down notes on where they were sighted, how many, what were they doing at the time of sighting, etc.

What is more, in their new found love of these little birds, the children have started seriously thinking and acting with a view to attracting them to their own homes and backyards. Based on the model of a nest for sparrows, which I showed them from a picture, some of them have also fabricated similar nests on their own, using locally available materials for the purpose. They have hung them or kept them at appropriate places and have kept some ears of grain and water as well nearby for their use. By doing these things, the children hope to attract the birds to their homes for food and shelter such that they could raise their off-springs there comfortably and in peace. The children of Akkur and Nethapakkam have taken a lead in these efforts.

What is particularly noteworthy in these activities is the fact that the parents of these children have also evinced equal interest in the efforts and have been supporting them quite enthusiastically!

K. Muniyandi.