Padavedu, located in the Thiruvanamali district of Tamil Nadu is an exceptionally lush and tidy countryside. And here, between the Vanniya and the Malayali populace, the Srinivasan Services Trust (SST), a well-respected and recognised affiliate of the TVS group, is shaping lives for a better tomorrow. En route to Padavedu, the Santhavasal reserve forest is dotted with 140 hectares of tamarind, lime, amla trees besides quick growing fodder grass which the SST, along with the locals, worked on for three years. The aforestation effort is not only added to the green but is estimated to produce saleable forest products, gradually benefiting the locals while preservation and respect towards the environment is maintained.
“Since 1996, when the SST was formed, the trust members at various levels and groups have tremendously transformed education, self employment and the surrounding.” Notes K S Krishnan, a retired IFS officer who is now a consultant with the trust. “Indeed, for me a lifelong dream of working independently on something that I loved has been fulfilled and I am passionate about it,” he adds.
Krishnan, with his team of educated members tour the region coordinating issues that need redressal. Be it noting appeals for more constructions and repairs of home, speeding issuance of bank loans, or getting the bridge built on the Kamandala River in the Javadhu hills. Above everything, the most exemplary trait to be witnessed here is of how the trust has invoked a sense of confidence, pride and responsibility among the dwellers. More than investing money, the moral of self-help and sustenance is being instilled by the trust. Women are in the forefront in this, divided into numerous self-help groups and with support and care from the trust. They have excelled in adding upto Rs 2,000 into their monthly income. This comes from producing handicraft from banana and palm fibre, sheep rearing and jungle products. The Sri Koottamalaigo-palaswamy women self-help centre is an index of this venture.
At the same time, education is also being given impetus. A number of schools have been given reasonable financial and logistical support. The Santhavasal higher secondary school, started way back in the ’60s, was recently upgraded by the trust providing better lavatories, boundaries and notably a chemistry lab. The Aangan-wadi at Kesavapuram is a quaint little space for younger children, where facilities for a small playground along with quality study materials, a biogas kitchen and a children’s bathroom have