“I saw a part of India I do not usually see - very rural and very poor. But it was lovely to see how proud the villagers were showing us their gardens that we had helped with. Some were able to sell their surplus to the market and said that it had made a real difference to their lives.” - Duncan
At Nomads we are true supporters of Fair Trade being the only way. Since starting Nomads in 1989 our founders Duncan and Vicky have always supported fellow fair trade and charity organisations and vowed to continue to raise awareness of the need for all of us to shop with a conscience alongside helping people who need it most. About five years ago, Nomads began to support Tamwed, which is based in Cornwall and is a wonderful voluntary charity which relies solely on donations. Tamwed has developed crucial links between communities in South India and the South West of England and supports projects that benefit the neediest in Tamil Nadu. Our founder Duncan, has just returned from a trip to India to see for himself the positive impact of work on health and climate change – two of the most important issues affecting the lives of some of the poorest and most isolated rural communities in India.
The Nilgiri Hills are famous for the number of rare species of flora and fauna that inhabit the highland forests as well as for its tea and as a tourist destination. The clearance of forest for tea and coffee plantations together with poorly regulated development, housing and tourism has had a negative effect on both the natural environment and the indigenous population. Climate change is causing increasing problems as long periods of drought followed by severe rain damages homes, crops and infrastructure. Displaced tribal groups, once surviving as hunter-gatherers or pastoralists, have needed to adapt to a changing lifestyle with many of them taking up farming, labouring or tea-picking. Sadly, an increasing number of families are leaving their homelands to search for work in nearby cities. Tamwed has supported a programme to help tribal farmers adapt to the effects of climate change and to secure their long-term future. During work on this and other programmes in the 30 villages targeted for this project, staff became concerned about the level of malnourishment among mothers and children which they found to be an indication of unacceptably poor standards of health and welfare. In particular, they were aware of young mothers and children that had died due to anaemia and malnutrition. Local people describe maternal and infant mortality as “due to lack of blood”.
Duncan travelled to India to see how Nomads’ support and donations have helped to improve life in villages in the Nilgiri Hills. Nomads supports Tamwed and their local partner organisation the ISLAND Trust to encourage villagers to grow their own vegetables, fruit and herbs in small plots around the hillside homes which Duncan visited. Tribal families in the poorest villages are being encouraged to produce, eat and sell a range of crops in order to improve their health and develop new sources of income. The donations that Nomads and others have contributed have gone towards developing organic kitchen gardens for 500 families in 30 remote villages, each of which received ten varieties of vegetable seeds and seedlings. ISLAND Trust staff and local experts provided advice on how to care for vegetables such as ladies’ finger, aubergine, tomato, beans, greens, Indian beans and pumpkin which have been grown from seed or from seedlings grown in the ISLAND Trust’s nursery garden. Traditional medicines produced from indigenous plants are being rediscovered A team of newly trained Voluntary Community Health Workers from the villages, all women from the villages where the project is taking place, set up campaigns and clinics to raise awareness about health issues and to treat or refer those with more serious problems.
When speaking to Duncan about how his time in India made him feel and the importance of the trip he says;
“I saw a part of India I do not usually see - very rural and very poor. But it was lovely to see how proud the villagers were showing us their gardens that we had helped with. Some were able to sell their surplus to the market and said that it had made a real difference to their lives.”
Tamwed is helping the ISLAND Trust to establish a sustainable enterprise with tribal people producing natural handicrafts like scented candles, wooden artefacts and tea and coffee to sell in the UK. By cutting out the middle men Tamwed would then give all the profits back to the ISLAND Trust to help fund further project work with tribal people.
Nomads has been supporting Tamwed for four years and continues to donate and fundraise. If you would like to read further about Tamwed or make a donation, please visit; http://tamwed.org/index.htmlhttp://tamwed.org/index.html