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NAWA

Background about NAWA

The Nilgiris Adivasi Welfare Association (NAWA) is a charity which aims to help Adivasi (tribal) people in Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu, a state in the southern part of India. It has been involved in welfare work for nearly 50 years.

Initially, the work was focused on health, since the founder of NAWA was a doctor. Dr Narasimhan devoted his life to giving medical help to Adivasis, as they were very isolated and could rarely afford to pay for treatment.

The charity was given a boost following a visit by Victoria Armstrong (one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools) in 1966. She was so struck by the plight of the poor tribal people that she decided to take early retirement and live among them, devoting the rest of her life to improving their health, education, and quality of life. As honorary treasurer of NAWA until her sad death in 1998, she managed to find a number of European donors to support NAWA's work. And she helped to extend its work by setting up play facilities for children below school age and establishing a programme to sponsor some older children in school.

Vidya Project

Unfortunately, until 2002, many of the tribal children were unable to attend school, partly because sponsorship opportunities were limited and partly because it often took too long for them to travel to the distant municipal schools. Therefore, that year, Classroom at NAWA's SchoolNAWA established its own primary school (the Victoria Armstrong Memorial School) in conjunction with Vidya.

Vidya supported the school over several years, financing the purchase of a minibus to transport some of the children to the school, part-financing the construction of a school building, and contributing substantial amounts each year towards the running costs. And, as well as providing funding, Vidya also conducted regular evaluation visits to ensure that progress was being made and offer suggestions for improvement.

As numbers grew in the school, NAWA began to attract greater local funding and some government support as well, helping to meet Vidya's initial objective that the school should eventually become more self-sustaining. At the same time, the Vidya trustees felt that the quality of the teaching was becoming more mixed. Therefore, in early 2010, Vidya decided to cease supporting NAWA in favour of other projects.

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