The other night I went for a walk with the boys and their warden My Thirumalai (I'm never going to remember everyone's name) to the neighbouring village. It is truly beautiful countryside (mosquitos aside), a perfect place for these kids to grow up and learn.
The region is agricultural and I subsequently learned an area where many NGO's have set up to help locals make changes in a variety of ways. One of the NGO's I visited is teaching sustainable and organic farming practices. This region has the lowest rainfall in all of India. The great Vaigai river whose path runs from the Varusanadu hills to the sea, stretching 258km is mostly just dry river bed.
The farmers here are being encouraged to change crops selecting plants that are better suited to the conditions. In the past, rice, bananas and coconut trees, the traditional crops, were all that were grown, relying heavily on fertilisers. The use of chemicals has also impacted on the precious water supply. It is not only farmers that are learning new methods of farming. Nature camps are run for children, based on a Swedish model using play, they are encouraged to find solutions to imaginary environmental problems (that aren't so imaginary anymore). The vision is a long term one, planning for sustainable farming whilst caring for the environment that will be second nature to the next generation.
Back to our walk, we met one of the local farmers who was tending his cows. He invited the boys to meet a couple of calves in his yard.
We need to get more boys experiencing life like this. The Illam is restricted to eight boys until the new dormitory is built. Which of course needs funding.