Meeting the People of Thottiyapatti by Stephane Alexandre

by tuftsigl
Sep 13


Today marks the halfway point of our summer trip! Being on this trip has helped me understand the mission and incredible work that BUILD: India is dedicated to doing in Thottiyapatti, our partner village.

This trip has been able to focus on three main aspects of BUILD: India so far: Health and Sanitation, Fundraising and Payir (partner NGO near Thottiyapatti), and Education.


Health and Sanitation

After inspecting the toilets in the village, we had a meeting with SCOPE, the NGO that build the toilets, to provide a status update and schedule an inspection of the toilets. We accentuated the fact that the current maintenance worker was cleaning twice a day, that toilet usage has increased, and that the toilets are open 24/7. We discussed the clogging, removal of the fecal matter, and training of maintenance worker. After the inspection next Tuesday, we will draft a new contract with SCOPE.



We visited the learning center in the village and had a meeting with the LC coordinators. The students needed new supplies such as books, coloring books, pencils, and pens, etc. Furthermore, we discussed ideas that can bring the whole community together to emphasize the importance of education.

We also had the opportunity to meet with some representatives from the youth club in the village. We brainstormed ideas about the dropout rate of the community, encouraging students to attend the learning center, and registering the youth club with the local government.


Fundraising and Payir

            This semester we will focus on fundraising for the projects that Payir is undertaking on the ground, as well as funding for BUILD projects. After meeting with the CEOs of Payir and learning more about their health, anemia/nutrition, and primary learning projects, we decided to fundraise for scholarships for higher education for the students of Thottiyapatti.


Being halfway done with the trip, I know that my perspective is constantly being molded. I am learning more about how the people in Thottiyapatti live and my relationship with them is growing. I believe it is crucial for any team member to participate in a trip to fully understand the work that needs to be accomplished. More importantly, it is essential to meet the people of Thottiyapatti, to know them, to talk with them, and to be invested in their lives. As a student working with the village, I know that I cannot impose my ideas on anyone, and I know that my perspective can only stem from two short weeks in the village. Thus, it is important to learn as much as I can while I can. The time spent helping the students with reading, chasing toddlers around the village, or by simply going into someone’s home for tea cannot be quantified into developmental statistical analyses. And it should not be. When I get back on campus, I can apply for grants and research learning curriculums in Tamil, but as necessary as that work is, it is not nearly as necessary as connecting with the people who have graciously allowed me to enter their lives, even for a short while.

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