Free legal assistance
This project focuses on people in the community who need court assistance. The awareness campaigns showed that many people end up in difficult situations and can’t afford a lawyer. We refer these people to Free Legal Aid. This is a government body which MM Trust has contacts with. In this way, people can get higher chances of being helped. Moreover, two Board Members have a degree in Law, allowing them to offer free services themselves if necessary. If they can’t answer the question, they will be redirected to Free Legal Aid.
In the villages there are many problems within families: alcoholism, quarrels, women in difficulty, … MM Trust decided to work on these problems. We are targeting mostly women and married couples in problematic families. Even before the marriage takes place, we will approach families to guide them how to act with each other in the marriage. If problems arise, the Board Members themselves act and go in search of a solution.
The importance of language can’t be emphasized enough. This project was launched by a group of students from London in collaboration with MM Trust. Apart from the existing computer classes, they also offered English lessons. In this way the children can communicate with people from outside of Tamil Nadu, and in addition this increases their chances for employment significantly. After the students left, the project was stopped.
MM Trust wants to help the Dalit families in remote areas by providing them with a steady income. We opted for rearing goats, to then sell them. It was decided to purchase 15 goats who were pregnant. Normally cast this 2 to 3 lambs. The condition was that the Dalit families had to give each one goat to the organization so that we could expand the project further. Eventually it was decided to stop the project and give all the goats to the families. In this way, they were a lot more safe, and they could make more profit.
HIV & Psychiatric problems
After student Lynn’s internship, she had some money left over from a fundraiser. She wanted to invest this money into people with HIV and psychiatric problems. She decided to provide them each month in medical fees and also buy their medicines. MM Trust took care of the practical side of the support. This project was funded for two years, but after that it was forced to stop.
The goal of this project was to let nursing students go door to door, along with Indian students and a volunteer, to provide ambulatory assistance to people who, for various reasons, can’t reach care providers. This was a short-term project, as there aren’t enough nurse-students coming for an internship.
Evening schools in slums and villages
In the villages, children of the Dalit, cremators, scavengers and other less-fortunate groups often have to stick to the occupation of their father, which also involves their difficult living conditions. Moreover, they are already engaged to work at a young age. MM Trust offers the children the possibility for a different perspective, by means of education. The children work at home during the day, so we decided to launch 5 evening schools. These were maintained by volunteers. Currently, they are not operating because of a lack of funds.
One of the themes MM Trust has been focusing on since the start is Women Empowerment. We want to motivate women to be independent and strong. We organize many activities to achieve this.
In the beginning we mostly were organizing awareness programs, on subjects like female hygiene, health or forestation. Later on, we also started the Women Group. This is a group for women, who support and help each other in trying to provide a sustainable income for themselves and their families.
From there on, the first tailoring project has grown. The organization educated 65 women to work as a tailor, after which we tried to attract as many orders for them as possible.
The women then divide the work, sew the garments at home, and bring together all finished products. Highlight of this tailoring project up to now was an order from the government, consisting out of 10 000 school uniforms.
One of the dreams when starting MM Trust was to run a nursing home for the elderly in trouble. However, realizing this was not going smoothly. The organization was only running for 2 years, and didn’t receive any funds. A small building was rented near Thalakudi where eight elderly were offered a place to stay. At that time there were five employees. After a while complaints followed from neighbors because of noise, and upon moving to another building followed the same problem surfaced again. In one year the home had to change buildings several times. This was followed by financial problems and forced us to stop this project. Today, MM Trust provides another way of support to elderly in need: we provide them with clothing, food, counseling and other useful things that cater to their needs.
Our Board Members are all highly educated, skilled and experienced professionals. Through the SMART Academy we offer trainings and workshops for corporations, institutions and other organizations. All revenues go straight to MM Trust.
More information is to be found in the brochure, which you can download here. Be sure not to hesitate to contact us.
Student Lynn had been interested in doing something for women since the start of her internship. There were already many activities being done with this target group, so MM Trust was immediately willing to cooperate.
The choice was made to do a tailoring project, as many of the women she wanted to reach already had experience sewing. The order was made by the HoWest college to make carrying bags, which are to be sold in Belgium.
After all preparations were done, the organisation placed an advertisement in the local newspaper. The women who replied to it were then invited for an interview, along with some women the organisation already had in mind for this project. Women who already knew how to sew were preferred, as well as women from Thalakudi village and surrounding areas. Women from poor families were given priority, with specific attention for women from the target groups MM Trust is focusing on: Gypsies, Scavengers and Cremators.
A design was made for the bags, and Vally, a woman from the village who is an experienced tailor, and her man, who has a second job as a tailor in the village, educated the women to make the products.
The women of the gypsies and scavenger wanted to join the project, but were refusing to sign a contract. For handing out money we always wants to have things signed officially, to avoid problems. This made a lot of women unable to participate. Students Martijn, Severien and Margritte then decided to transfer the project to the Women Group, who were willing to sign. They took care of making contact with the Gypsies and Scavengers, and the women joined the group.
They also helped with the organization of the continuing of the project.
Now some decisions about the final design, in which HoWest requested some changes, are still to be made, after which the sewing can start. The women will sew the bags in their homes, after which they are to be shipped to Belgium where HoWest will sell them.
In the future, there are hopes to set up a proper shop, where the products can then be sold.
Children, youth and women from lower-caste families do not have much hopes for a better future. Their (mostly dangerous and tough) professions are being passed on from father to son, and schooling rates are low.
Being skilled in using computers opens many new doors: chances of getting employment increase heavily.
When MM Trust heard about another organization selling an old computer for a cheap price, we immediately took the opportunity. A project was started with two students who were doing their internship at the time, in which they were giving classes for the children, youngsters and women in the villages, using the limited resources they had.
It came out to be a big success, and especially the children were heavily interested.
After they left MM Trust further expanded the project, and classes were organized, now in a classroom with three computers and a teacher.
Unfortunately, the cost of this building, the electricity and the teacher became too much for the organization to carry. The decision was made to stop the project, and one of the computers was donated to a teacher working in a school in the area where the Scavengers are living.
If they can obtain the resources which are needed, we would like to start this project again. Some funds are needed for a classroom, the computers and a teacher. Now support is finally growing, in the form of funds from the Province of West-Flanders, hopes are this will be possible in the near future.
After organizing an awareness program at a school for children from the Dalit-community, the casteless, some members of MM Trust met the head of the school. He showed them how difficult it was for some of the slower learners in the school and how they really needed extra support.
Upon seeing this, we decided to do something for them. We arranged some extra people, to offer them the support needed.
From there on a program has grown, in which we yearly, before the start of the school year, link children with donors and also spend some of our own resources. De children then receive support by the form of books, uniforms and other things they need to go to school. At the moment 160 children are receiving support.
The poor communities of the villages mostly don’t have access to good health care. They live in remote areas, have difficulties arranging transport and are sometimes not aware of the help they need can receive.
Therefore, a couple of hospitals in Trichy decided to start a mobile hospital. This ‘Medical Camp’ visits the villages, to do preventive check-ups as well as to treat problems.
MM Trust is supporting them by (synonym motivating) the people to visit these Camps. Some among them are scared, or don’t really know what it is all about. Therefore, our volunteers go from family to family to distribute pamphlets and motivate people to pass by. Also, we try to signal needs to the hospitals, so they can organize certain examinations or treatments.
Being a small organisation, MM Trust always has to keep in mind that their budget is limited. To still serve the community as much as possible, we often organize awareness programs.
This consists of approaching a specific target group, to, by means of conversation, readings and activities, make them aware of a theme, give them knowledge and skills and motivate them to apply these in their own lives.
For this goal, the members of MM Trust are providing their knowledge and experience completely on a voluntary basis.
The themes of the programs range from health and hygiene to life skills, organic farming or HIV. The needs are always first assessed, after which we try to respond to the findings.
We also work together with other organizations for these programs, in both directions: if someone needs to get in contact with a particular target group where the other is working with, needs a speaker, materials or other support, people and services are interchanged. The social sector in Trichy is a network of actors, who together form one big organization: aid delivery. We approach the target group as one body.
Training and development
For this project the focus was mostly on children of quarry workers.
These are people who break big rocks into small pieces, and then sell them for construction purposes.
It heavy, dangerous work, which is being passed on from father to child. MM Trust wants to convey a change in mentality, and show this does not necessarily have to be the case, that by means of education the children can obtain a better future. They are being supported and guided by volunteers of MM Trust, who try to keep them in school. The problem was that after finishing their education they received their certificates, but they were mostly unable to get a job.
The children had already been showing a lot of interest in the English language, so when two students, both native speakers, came to do their internship, the idea arose to combine these two things into one project: organize English lessons for the children, train them in a profession for which the teacher in the area is qualified, and lead them to employment by using the network of the organization to place them in corporations with whom they have good understanding.
This project has run for some time, but was stopped because of a lack of people who wanted to give the courses.
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