“Our friends who help run and support Tamwed and our partners in India hope that we can give tribal families the help that they need to adapt, survive and flourish in a world that is fast changing about them. It would be such a shame to lose them and others like them in the rush for ‘modernisation’. It is fascinating visiting their villages and getting to know some of the families. The ISLAND Trust does a wonderful job and, for as long as we can and for as long as it is needed, Tamwed hope we can support their work” - Oz Osborne, Tamwed's founder
We thought that you would love to hear from the director of Tamwed and learn more about the fantastic organisation that Nomads supports. We had a fabulous interview with Oz which we would like to share with you all.
As we have previously written about our favourite Charity Tamwed, we thought it would be interesting if we could interview the leader behind this fantastic organisation. In case you missed our earlier blog on the charity, 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. Nomads is a firm believer that Fair Trade is the only way business should be, and we thrive on giving back to communities in need of guidance and learning new skills. At Nomads we have been fundraising alongside Tamwed for almost five years and our director, Duncan has been out to see how our donations have helped. For more information on his trip, please read our previous blog.
Oz discovered that the Nilgiri hills in Tamil Nadu needed help back in 1994 after winning an award for his work with West Devon-based environmental and community organisation that he directed. The prize was a trip to India and being the man he is, Oz wanted to do something substantial with this opportunity, so alongside a colleague arranged to visit some Gandhian NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) in South India to find out how they operate and what they could teach them. Since then, Oz now visits India once or twice a year since, working on UK-funded projects, researching, training, arranging exchange visits, supporting local groups and volunteering.
Tamwed was born in 2004 after the tsunami hit the coast of Kerala and South India in areas where Oz knew people and organisations from project work and social visits. This led to the setting up of a charity to support smaller NGOs working on the aftermath of the tsunami helping villages to recover in the long term. The new charity was called Tamwed and was founded with the support of staff and trustees from our organisation in West Devon.
“We supported the work of several, small Indian organisations until they were able to stand on their own feet. During a visit when I was training NGO leaders on dealing with the impact of climate change, using my experience on projects in Africa, I met Alphonse Raj, the CEO of the ISLAND Trust based in the Nilgiri Hills where it works with tribal families on health and other projects. Gradually I got to know more about them and their work and eventually we found enough money to fund a project to help tackle climate change which was causing devastation in the hills which were being deforested and used by corrupt developers and politicians for their profit. We felt that tribal culture and the way they live with nature is very special and worth preserving, especially as they have more to teach us about social, spiritual and environmental values”
After more research Tamwed found that tribal people had become vulnerable to a range of health problems, many of which were related to their poor diet based on subsidised rice and few vegetables. In 2014, two committee members, Maria and Colin, who are both retired health workers, spent the year fund-raising for a Tamwed project to tackle the most serious health problems that were resulting in a high rate of infant and maternal mortality. They were sponsored to walk between 15 schools in the Nilgiris where they joined ISLAND Trust workers to give a talk on health and hygiene issues. This led to the start of a new health project. Oz explained that with donations and funds raised at events, by Maria and Colin’s sponsorship and by Nomads clothing and others, the ISLAND Trust worked with farmers and families to reform the food that they grew and ate while tackling health issues with local experts and trained voluntary health workers from the tribal villages where the help was being given. Now, a range of climate-resistant medicinal and culinary herbs are grown along with fruit and vegetable cash crops with tea and coffee adding to the family income.
Vicky and Duncan, the director of Nomads Clothing, joined Tamwed around five years ago, not only with their extensive knowledge of India but to support projects managed by our partners in the Nilgiris and elsewhere in a remote part of Tamil Nadu. During 2015, we set up a new venture with the ISLAND Trust which formed an enterprise unit of farmers and crafts people from the Nilgiris. We experimented in importing tea, coffee, candles, artwork and other goods, some of which are sold in Nomads’ Launceston Boutique. http://on.fb.me/1oM704k
Duncan and Dan, the director’s son, visited the Tamwed projects with Oz in Novembers 2015 and helped to put the export business on a firmer footing with properly packaged, high quality goods that can command a good price here. It is early days, but Tamwed has high hopes for this new business venture. “It seems to be a good way of helping tribal communities to earn a living by using the produce and skills that come naturally to them and their environment”
Oz concludes saying;
“Our friends who help run and support Tamwed and our partners in India hope that we can give tribal families the help that they need to adapt, survive and flourish in a world that is fast changing about them. It would be such a shame to lose them and others like them in the rush for ‘modernisation’. It is fascinating visiting their villages and getting to know some of the families. The ISLAND Trust does a wonderful job and, for as long as we can and for as long as it is needed, Tamwed hope we can support their work”
“India is what we call a “developing” nation and there is undoubtedly a group of people benefitting from a new-found wealth. I don’t believe in measuring poverty based on financial income – this is based on a western, capitalist ideology that doesn’t necessarily lead to fulfilling lives. Those of us who travel will know that people can live productive, healthy, good quality lives on a small amount of income but with a great deal of respect, humility and other values that have little in common with materialism”
To donate to Tamwed and support their phenomenal work please click the following link. Thank you. http://bit.ly/1PSK1LA