Latest News

Barathi Hostel Girls in July 11

Fall 2010:

A Few Dollars More

Australian volunteers Chris Smith and Tamara Lee organise a movie night to raise funds for the Sponsorship Programme.



Tamara and Chris volunteering in India

In 2007 we made our first trip to Tamil Nadu to live in the remote village of Narikudi to teach English at a girls school managed by ODAM.  Here we fell in love with 68 girls, their village and their teachers. Our love affair with Narikudi has turned into a long term commitment to raise money in Australia to support the girls to stay at school longer.

We believe that education is the key to eliminating poverty for the women of India, and that by supporting the education of the girls at the Barathi Hostel Narikudi, they will have improved health, including maternal health, and reduced risk of a lifetime of abuse.

Prior to our first visit, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and families who helped us raise enough money to take teaching resources and purchase new dresses for all the students at Deepavali, a Hindu festival.

Prior to our second trip in 2009, we held another successful fundraising campaign, with thanks to friends, family and some wonderfully supportive local businesses. Kevin, from our local camping store, generously donates gift vouchers for the annual raffle we draw at the movie night.

Nikki is a local business lady who has her own long term love affair with India, having lived in India for many years, and established at school and TB Clinic. Now she’s opened a small boutique locally selling quality Indian handicrafts, including silk and handmade clothing and scarves. As part of last years fundraising efforts, Nikki donated a beautiful shawl for our online auction, raising more than double the shawl’s retail price.

Nikki also set up a colourful stall of jewellery and clothes in the foyer of a local movie theatre where we held our Indian Movie Night. Not only did her presence fill the foyer with the flavours of India, but she also donated 10% of her revenue to the cause.

Our aim is to continue to send money to the school and hostel, to keep the girls we now know and love, at school longer. We also hope to raise the profile here in Australia, of the sponsorship program now available online.

School Students with new clothes funded by Tamara and Chris.

School Students with new clothes funded by Tamara and Chris.

It’s costly, and time consuming to get to India from Australia, and the reality of returning to the school to teach is being challenged by the demands of family life here. However, we can continue to raise much needed funds from here, and continue to promote the work of ODAM in everything we do.

A Passage Through India

Spanish Volunteer Ana Vicenti, writes about her experiences at the Barathi Girls’ Hostel

Indian School students with Volunteers

Indian School students with Volunteers

I have just spent two months volunteering with ODAM and can honestly say that it has been one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life.

To have the opportunity to spend time with the girls at the KGBV School and the Barathi hostel allowed me to get to know the girls who live and study there, and understand more about the lives of these girls and their communities.

When I met the girls at the hostel for the first time, they were extremely welcoming and excited to talk to me. This excitement and eagerness to meet new people, learn about new  cultures and practise their English really touched me.

Coming from a country and  culture where teenagers are quite apathetic and do not seem very interested in anything, it was great to see the excitement of these young students when we talked or I taught them computing.

But they weren’t the only ones who learnt, I learned a lot about them, their families, their future plans and found out that almost all of them hope to pursue their studies at college. It is moving to see how the future of these girls brightens thanks to ODAM’s help and work. In a country with a very high rate of female illiteracy, I have learned the importance of education for the new generation.

International Volunteers teach the girls a variety of skills, from English to Self Defence

Given that India’s state governments lack financial and human investment in education, it is extremely important to realise the value of projects like the Barathi Hostel. India is facing a crucial moment in its history, and education is the key to its development. To empower women through education will make an enormous difference to the next generation in rural areas like Virudhunagar, where the Barathi Hostel is located.

A new generation of educated women will mean more prosperity for the whole community and higher levels of welfare for those women and their families. In addition, education will secure a better future for their children, who will grow up in an environment where women are educated and knowledgeable, and are respected by their families and the wider community.