The population of Dindigul, Tamil Nadu, is 450,000 and growing,
due to an increase in industrial and commercial activity. An ever-increasing
number of landless peasants migrate into Dindigul from rural poverty.
Few families succeed: most become destitute, surviving only on casual,
menial work, living without adequate shelter and services on pavements
and on waste grounds. Sole children, sent to towns and cities by
desperate parents, search for food or income. With no family support,
these children work in teashops, restaurants or small industries;
clean shoes; and resort to rag picking to earn a few rupees. Some
children turn to begging and/or petty theft.
Before the commencement of SPEDY, services to assist homeless families
and street working children were negligible in Dindigul and, despite
the efforts of the families, their long-term chances of reintegration
were poor. ICT was able to obtain a 3-year EC grant to support Shelter,
Protection, Education and Development for Youth (SPEDY): a project
set up to take direct action in assisting destitute families in
Dindigul. SPEDY is an integrated community development programme,
which provides shelter, education and training, and initiates small
income generation projects. In keeping with ICT policies, the programme
is managed and staffed by local people, targets the most marginalised
and involves them in determining their own needs of the facilities
and services provided.
Using the experience it has obtained from running a child sponsorship
programme in VVP, ICT-SEEDS has set up a child sponsorship programme
at SPEDY, which is a way of making the project more sustainable,
by making it less grant dependent.
In this past financial year, SPEDY has been preparing itself for
expansion into the hills community of Palani, where another centre
will be set of for displaced children