Jawadhi Hills

Local villagers
A typical village with communal grain store
A typical village with communal grain store

80,000 people live in this rugged terrain in Tamil Nadu, 37 miles from Vellore. Some of the villages are accessible only by dirt tracks; many are accessible by road. The hilly terrain makes access to healthcare and other facilities difficult.

The people of this particular area are known as ‘Malayalis’ meaning ‘people of the hills’. Their history, extreme poverty and poor road access mean that their health, literacy and development indicators are tragically low, compared to those living on the plains. Most people are small-scale subsistence farmers or land labourers. Due to poor conditions, many migrate to find seasonal farming work in nearby districts, taking the children with them who then miss school for extended periods.

The last decade has seen significant destruction of the forest for grazing of domestic animals, and cultivation of produce for multinational companies. Profits are made by middle men, using up valuable land for the benefit of others and not the tribal people. The women and children in this area are particularly vulnerable, with inadequate nutrition, poor access to education, and limited access to healthcare.

CMC’s Community Health and Development team (CHAD) are working in this area to improve health and provide development opportunities. However, they desperately need funds to make their vision for these people to live a healthy and productive life, in harmony with nature, a reality.

The only way to an inaccessible village
The only way to an inaccessible village

Chronic malnutrition, TB, malaria, diabetes, high blood pressure, leprosy, HIV and thalassaemia are big problems along with infections, orthopaedic issues and alcoholism. CMC provides mobile clinics to the most accessible villages. They have been working in four villages helping villagers to build toilets and install clean water supplies. They are also running evening study centres and summer camps for the children as well as setting up mushroom cultivation, pig and fish farming.

Young people in this region struggle to apply to college. They have difficulties filling in forms and finding grants and in addition, the process works against them. They only receive post every two weeks and by the time they’ve heard they’ve got a place they’ve missed the acceptance deadline! Another barrier is that some of the parents don’t want their children to enrol in further studies. So, CMC is helping young people to apply for courses and find funds to help with the cost. Since this initiative began, 62 students have joined the scheme. Of these, 26 have completed the course. 13 students are now working in CMC and four in the Jawadhi Hills. Friends of Vellore UK are currently funding five students who are in their first year of a three year nursing course at CSI Mission Hospital Trichy and one student in his first year of training as an X-ray technician at Christian Fellowship Hospital Oddanchatram.

Mala, a health worker, with her family

Providing sustainable income for the young people so they are not tempted to migrate elsewhere is a particular need. As part of this, CMC have trained young people from the villages in health care to then work in their local communities. These community health workers increasing health awareness and bridge the gap between the local tribal community and CMC’s Community Health and Development team. They are integral to improving healthcare in the isolated and entrenched communities that make up the Jawadhi Hills. These workers are young people from the Jawadhi Hills. So the role not only benefits their communities, it provides young locals with training and employment too!

Friends of Vellore UK are currently funding eleven of these community health workers. In 2023 the cost of this is £11,195 (just over £1000 per health worker for a year).

Community health workers encourage patients to attend the mobile clinic, accompany the nurse during home visits, and perform independent home visits to identify and refer patients with health problems. They follow up antenatal and postnatal women, under-fives, and chronic patients. They also provide health education in homes and local schools on water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition, and motivate mothers to immunise their children. They do so much!

Please consider whether funding our health workers and trainee nurses from the Jawadhi Hills is something you’d like to be part of. You can donate here.

The CMC clinic in the Jawadhi Hills
The CMC clinic in the Jawadhi Hills

In the Jawadhi Hills it is often dangerous to give birth. Large numbers of births take place in unsafe environments and it can take over 12 hours to reach medical help. The community needs a facility to reduce infant and maternal mortality.

CMC are also unable to use their clinic in the Jawadhi Hills effectively because overnight facilities for staff are not available and the journey time from CMC is three hours each way.

In 2022 Friends of Vellore UK raised £50,000 towards building a maternity and emergency care hospital offering healthcare services 24/7. Together with funds raised by Friends of Vellore in the USA, CMC will be able to build a maternity unit and overnight facilities for staff.