Adigathur is a small village located in Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu. With 680 households, the village has a population of 2800; the community comprises of cobblers, snake charmers, and a nomadic community, which after being on the move for centuries has finally come to call Adigathur its home. The village has an elementary, and a secondary school. The nearest high school is situated a few miles away in the nearest town.

SECT intervened in Adigathur panchayat under our “We Sustain” programme, with a vision to develop this project into a workable model that operates on the principle of growth via sustainable development, which can be adopted and implemented by any small to medium sized village/panchayat across India.


 At Chittikadu, where the initial survey is over, we will be working on:
a. Refurbishing the government school and make a couple of toilets
b. Providing desks, benches, fans in the classrooms
c. Make a few toilets in the panchayat
d. Help with provisioning of drinking water

SECT joined hands with Mr. Elango Ramaswamy, an Ashoka Fellow, and founder of Trust for Village Self Government who has built a name for himself in the community for setting up Panchayat Academy and has also developed the nearby Kuthumbakkam as a model village. Under the guidance of Elango, SECT embarked on a first of its kind concept of ‘’Village Fellows”, with the aim to form a group comprising of the panchayat’s people for a realistic understanding of the issues faced.

All 5 members on board, who incidentally were all women – Thenmozhi, Jeevitha, Anitha, Gayathri and Neeli – underwent a selection process developed loosely based on Ashoka Fellows’ selection and work under the supervision of panchayat head Mrs. Sumathi, a strong-spirited leader who believes in our cause and aims for the socio-economic growth of its residents.

The fellowship entails an honorarium paid to the Village Fellows. In a short span of over two years, they have been able to drive a significant change in the village. An old building was refurbished for conducting weekly medical check ups, conducted pro bono by Dr Balaji. The same building also doubles up as a community center where women folk (who earlier had to travel for over 3 hours each day, to work in farms or factories) work as local entrepreneurs for making handicrafts and accessories, and has thus provided them with the opportunity to earn their livelihood, much closer to home.

Doctor visits are scheduled periodically to keep help the villagers lead a healthy life.

Under the Prime Minister’s scheme of “Swachh Bharat Shauchalya Yojana,” toilets co-funded by SECT have been set up in the village for the nomadic community, providing them the fundamental right of having a cleaner and hygienic environment to live.

With the second year focused towards self-sustenance, SECT aims to set up a fish-harvesting site at the village, that would enable the nomad community to direct an additional source of income to the village and provide better living options to their families.

Providing computer training to school children and Village Fellows along with English language training post a literacy grading assessment of the students.

We believe all this has been possible in a short time as it is helmed by motivated women who want to make their lives and the lives of others in their community better. Their empowerment has been an example to others, especially women, in the village to voice their concerns. There are several challenges that they face, but they are steadfast and unified. For women, who have lived their entire lives in a mostly patriarchal society, they now have a voice. It is the voice of hope, a voice of change.