Gypsy family from Pettai with Social Change and Development

Integration with Nomadic Communities

The gypsy communities are nomadic people who do not have any permanent shelter or residence. Traditionally they are hunters and craftsman. SCAD-Nirman started working with a group of gypsies in 1987. It started with an informal education centre where full-time staff were appointed to educate the gypsy children. The members of the gypsy families began admitting their children in SCAD-Nirman Special School for the Gypsies. So far 500 children have completed Primary level and around 250 children have taken to secondary education. Today nearly 200 children are studying. Most of them at least complete primary education. Gypsy people are helped to get voting rights and ration cards.

They work to get land and other basic facilities like water, toilets and roads. SCAD-Nirman has helped set up three women’s self-help groups which are already linked with national banks. A cooperative bead chain production unit has been formed to market the women’s products.

SCAD-Nirman’s noble initiative for transforming the lives of gypsy families living at Pettai in Tirunelveli by providing them concrete houses with basic infrastructure facilities goes without saying. The gypsies were all living in small tents in hostile conditions along with their children and SCAD-Nirman has supported the gypsy community with a housing project on their land. Working together with the local government, SCAD-Nirman has helped provide 80 houses with inside toilets and rain water harvesting tanks. As with every SCAD-Nirman project, we expect villagers to contribute too and so families were encouraged to contribute their mite in cash and kind or physical labour before being given a home.

We are currently supporting the community with a housing project on their land. Working together with the local government, we will help to provide houses with inside toilets and rain water harvesting tanks. As with every SCAD-Nirman project, we expect villagers to contribute too and so families have to pay a deposit before they are given a home.

Snake catchers’ work is outlawed

Snake catchers are traditional hunters who belong to tribal communities. Traditionally these families catch snakes, skin them and sell them and earn some money for their livelihoods. Now this activity is against the law and this community is suffering due to poverty. Many often face terrible circumstances due to repetitive snake bites and a nomadic lifestyle.

We have worked with 22 such families. We helped them build homes, and offered education to their children. The women’s self-help groups have helped to improve the groups’ socio-economic status. Most of the snake-catchers are now engaged in alternate employment.