Khadija (University of Denver), Fall 2011

As a South India Term Abroad student, you will have the opportunity to engage with the Madurai community in a variety of ways. You will shop in markets and malls, discover your favorite lunch spots around the SITA Center, and cycle through a number of neighborhoods to class every morning. You will participate in field visits relevant to your coursework, become a member of a Tamil family, and through your directed field research project, you will engage in volunteer work, conduct interviews, and become a participant-observer on a topic of your choosing.

Directed Field Research is a required component and cornerstone of the South India Term Abroad academic program. You will learn about ethnographic research methods during the first part of the semester. With faculty mentorship, you will complete a research project during the second half of the semester. You will be expected to network with the Madurai community to conduct interviews and participate in activities relevant to your topic, and to supplement your interviews and participant-observation with library research. Expectations for this research are high. We hope that your SITA directed field research will lead to further research and revision, even after you leave Madurai. Future versions of your work might become senior theses, honors papers, or publications. It may lead to awards or graduate school work. We help you by connecting you with professionals, faculty, activists, and other individuals involved in your topic of interest. You’ll also be connected with a local college or university student who can help you with interviewing and translating. Some students are able to incorporate volunteer or internship work as part of their research and engagement with the community. You can research any topic you’d like, as long as your methodology is qualitative: surveys, interviews, participant-observation, and other methods you’ll discuss in your anthropology seminar. Please note that all independent field research projects must be completed in Madurai and are subject to final approval by the SITA Resident Director. Reasons for not approving a project usually involve ethical or feasibility concerns. Read some examples of completed directed field research projects below.

Daniel F. Bousquet, Fall 2007
TITLE: Illness and Disease at Pandi Koyil: An Introduction to Treatment Methods
DESCRIPTION: In this semester-long project, Daniel explores the treatment and healing methods used at Pandi Koyil. Healing practices at Pandi Koyil present a challenge for anyone who approaches illness and healing from a bio-medical perspective. Drawing on interviews, participant-observation, and anthropologies of suffering, illness, and healing, Daniel seeks to move beyond his own cultural assumptions to “analyze Pandi Koyil through the eyes of a devotee.”

Caitlin E. McKitrick, Spring 2009
TITLE: “The Abdomen is Not a Suitcase”: The Normalization and Control of Labor Accelerating Technology in Madurai DESCRIPTION: In this semester-long project, Caitlin interviewed obstetricians and gynecologists about childbirth practices. She finds that cesarean sections are becoming increasingly common and that labor inducing and accelerating drugs are used routinely, “without the consultation or input of patients.” Caitlin introduces her paper with the provocative question: “What does it mean for the lives and bodies of women when the power to make requests [for labor inducing and accelerating drugs] is taken away from them?”

Libraries and Archives

The SITA Center maintains a state-of-the-art library. You will find books on all facets of South Indian social, cultural, and religious life as well as social science theory books. All the final papers from past SITA directed field research projects are also in the library. Each year we purchase new books to keep our selection current and relevant. Ms. Nirmala will be happy to help you find what you need to complete your final papers and Directed Field Research project. The South India Term Abroad library can be accessed on-line. Select “your library” and then “style C” at the top of the pages. In addition to the SITA Center library, you may use The American College and Lady Doak College libraries, as well as the following speciality libraries and archives:

SCILET: Study Centre for Indian Literature in English and Translation
T: (0452) 253 3609
The American College
Madurai 625 002

SCILET is a research library, holding more than 10,000 volumes related to Indian Literature in English. Many of these are books of creative literature – novels, poetry, dramas, essays – written by almost 1,000 resident and expatriate Indians. Much of the library is also devoted to critical and biographical studies of these writers, as well as anthologies and histories of Indian literature, bibliographies, and other reference works. Recognising that at least half the new Indian writers in English are women, SCILET has devoted one section of its library to Gender Studies, with special attention to the condition and activities of women in India. SCILET subscribes to about 65 periodicals, many of them published internationally. The SCILET library is open-access. Its hours are 9am – 5pm on weekdays.

Mrs. Bimla Chandra Sekar, Director
EKTA Resource Centre for Women
Bethel Nagar
Bible Bhavan Street Ponmeni, Bypass Road
Madurai 625 010
T: (0452) 2381309 / 2382454
C: 9443377872

 EKTA is consistently working on gender-based research and studies. They publish reports on these studies, discuss them with women, and update them every three months. Reports exist on gender and the tsunami, family courts, gender and HIV/AIDS, and dowry violence. EKTA also has a library of gender-focused materials that may be of use to many SITA students studying gender relations and identity in Madurai.

Mrs. G. Andal, Administrative Director
Evidence God’s Mercy Illam 9B
P.T. Rajan Road, 8th Street (Near Singarayar Colony)
Madurai 625 002
T: (0452) 2526107

Evidence is consistently producing studies on Dalit related human rights violations, including Dalit socio-economic rights, Dalit discrimination, Dalit temple issues, Dalit discrimination in the government sector workplace. Evidence has an extensive archive of newspaper clippings focusing on human rights violations since 2006. Their archivist is more than happy to share his knowledge with SITA students. This archive will be a great resource for any student focusing on human rights in Madurai.

American Library
U.S. Consulate General Chennai, India
Gemini Circle
Chennai 600 006
T: (0442) 8574000

South India Term Abroad is a member of the American Library of the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, India. Students may request books and receive them via mail for their directed field research projects and any other final course papers. Opened in 1947, the American Library Chennai was established to promote understanding between the people of South India and the United States. It has excellent collections in the social sciences, business, management, and American Literature. Students can search the collections on-line, and request books through Nirmala.

Local Organizations
There are hundreds of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) or voluntary organizations working in Madurai. Past SITA students and alumni have worked with many of these organizations through volunteering efforts and Directed Field Research projects. Academic year students will participate in an internship with one of these organizations. This guide is intended to help students, faculty, and alumni identify and contact appropriate NGOs. All of the NGOs listed in this database have agreed to work with SITA students in one capacity or another. Please refer to the volunteer opportunities section of each profile for an idea of the sort of work that is needed. Some of the organizations are religious-based, while many others are secular. Some receive foreign funding in the form of grants or sponsorships, while other smaller organizations are entirely locally funded and supported. All of the listed NGOs are registered in India. This list is by no means an endorsement of any organization over another, but instead is intended as a field guide for students and alumni. There are many other hard-working, effective, and worthy NGOs working in the field. We’ll add them as we find them! Unless otherwise noted, the directions given are from the SITA center. Bus numbers and routes may change, so be sure to check with the organization before you go!

Akshaya Trust
hunger, homelessness
Mr. Krishnan
Akshaya Trust
9, First West Main St.
Doak Nagar Extension
Madurai 625 010
T: (0452) 4353439 / 2587104
C: 9843319933

In August 2002, Mr. Krishnan, who has a degree in hotel management and catering science, began distributing food to the mentally-ill and geriatric homeless in Madurai. He began by feeding 30 people each day, and he is now feeding over 150 people three meals a day. His route encompasses 110 km in and through Madurai. Nearly all of his funding is local, as he does not invest in advertising of any kind. Together with his two assistants, Mr. Krishnan also supplies clean water, clothing and hair cutting services on his rounds. Akshaya Trust has also bought land and drawn up plans to build a home to shelter 200 aged and mentally-ill homeless individuals. The plans for this home have been finalized and they just received the money to begin construction on the ICU block of the home.Once the Akshaya Home has been built, volunteers will be welcome there. Those interested in learning more about Akshaya Trust can contact Mr. Krishnan, who will be more than happy to explain his organization. An auto rickshaw from the SITA Center takes about 30-40 minutes.


Arogya Agam
community health
human rights
Mr. Pandian
Arogya Agam
Aundipatty 625 512
Theni District
T: (04546) 242306
C: 9443356428
Arogya Agam was originally founded to do leprosy work but now undertakes a variety of medical and social programs. The organization still assists the government services in leprosy work and also in Tuberculosis. The NGO is active in community health and women’s development work. Around 200 women’s self-help groups with 4000 mainly Dalit members have come together as an independent federation – Theni Sudar Pengal Iyyekam (TSPI). TSPI is taking over Arogya Agam’s role in managing the self-help groups, mobilizing credit from banks, and is strong on advocacy. Advocacy and activist issues include campaigns against untouchability, sexual and domestic violence, and infanticide. Arogya Agam was the first NGO in the area to take up AIDS prevention activities in 1993. The organization now leads a district level program on AIDS prevention and care. Arogya Agam also runs a district program for AIDS prevention and advocacy among women in prostitution and has taken on the UNICEF school AIDS program in five districts of Tamil Nadu. Recent initiative have focused on assisting other rights-based organizations focusing on women in prostitution, Arivanis (transgendered people), Adivasis and Arunthidiyars. Although Arogya Agam still runs medical programs, it is concentrating more on rights-based work with the most marginalized communities and believes in building independent people’s organizations.Contact Mr. Pandian to discuss volunteer options and projects for Arogya Agam. Theni District is several hours outside of Madurai. Call Arogya Agam and they will be happy to give you bus directions.


Association for Rural Uplift (ARUL)
childcare for underprivileged children
Mr. David Ganaiah
Mr. David Ganaiah founded ARUL in 1999. ARUL runs three different orphanages and helps over 120 children. One of the orphanages is in Ooty, one is in Kodai, and the third is in the outskirts of Madurai. These orphanages take in both boys and girls. Wardens stay with the children at the orphanages, and during the day they attend a nearby school. ARUL is a Christian organization but it is not compulsory that the children they take in be Christian. Fifty percent of ARUL’s funding comes from local churches and Christian organizations, and fifty percent comes from churches in the US. A few years ago, ARUL began collaborating with American volunteers to run a three week English language camp for the children in their orphanages. This camp takes place in July and is funded by Rotary international. The children go to Tamil medium schools so it is difficult from them to retain the English that they learn during the year.Mr. David is very excited about working with SITA volunteers or interns. He would love for a SITA student to run an English language camp for his children during the year, so that they can attempt to retain what they learned during the month of July. He is very eager to have the children interact with native English speakers. Volunteers could also teach an art class for the children or some other kind of after-school activity. David is also looking for someone to help him set up a website. It is best if volunteers bring a translator. Volunteers may come weekdays after 5pm and all day on weekends. It is located on the outskirts of Madurai about 20 km from the SITA Center. Call Mr. David for directions and he can advise you on the best bus routes.


Birdsnest Home
home for underprivileged girls
Ms. Pushpallela Parker
Birdsnest Home
Inside Rachapuram Compound
K. Pudur
Madurai 625 007
T: (0452) 2562101
Birdsnest is one of the oldest operating private orphanages in Madurai. Birdsnest is currently home to 35 underprivileged female students, ages eight to mid-twenties. The home itself is set inside a large compound which includes a secondary school and a vocational school for tailoring and technology. The girls attend the nearby school. Birdsnest also offers them extra tutoring classes. Because Birdsnest has been operating in Madurai for so many years, old “birds” come back to work and volunteer at the center. Birdsnest helps its young women attend college, and then will help arrange marriage and work opportunities. The young women can also elect to receive vocational training and Birdsnest will help with their job placement. The girls are sponsored and supported throughout their stay at Birdsnest. Birdsnest is a Christian organization.Mrs. Parker, who runs the home and lives there full time, is extremely welcoming of volunteers. Volunteers can help with spoken English classes, nightly tutoring, and reading practice. Or volunteers can organize a class for the girls to teach them song, dance, drawing, photography, etc. Volunteers are also welcome to simply come to play games and spend time with the girls. Currently, Mrs. Parker is looking for a volunteer to work with the girls on their English handwriting. It is best if volunteers bring a translator because many of the girls don’t speak English well and Mrs. Parker is not always available for translation. Volunteers can come weekdays from 5-6:30pm or in the evenings on Sundays. Check the timings before you go!At the bus stop across from the post office (near Ashok Bhavan), ask for a bus that goes to Alagarkoil. Take the bus to Maathathani bus stand near Alagar Nagar. Birdsnest home is approximately 1 km past the bus stop on the right side of the street. Enter the compound through a gateway that says Birdsnest School. The home is back and to the right. Birdsnest home is approximately 10-15 minutes from the SITA Center.


Boys Town Society and Girls Town Society
children at risk
child labor
The Joe Homan Charity
2 Magi Villa
Roman Mission 1st Street
YMR Patti
Dindigul 624 003
Dr. Narayana Raja
Madurai Institute of Social Sciences
Alagarcoil Road
Madurai 625 002
Boys Town Society is based in Tirumangalam. Boys Town Society runs Boys and Girls Towns in Tamil Nadu as well as Children’s Villages. BTS also administers several other projects, including Education for Life, Joyful Learning (teacher training and classroom materials for rural primary schools) and Home Sponsorship (students who cannot attend school for various reasons qualify for this project, in which they can complete their studies from home, under the guidance and regular visits of BTS staff members). Each Boys Town is a residential community of 85 boys between 11-18 years of age, all from backgrounds of extreme poverty. With guidance from a Boys Town Director and assistant, Boys Towns are run by the boys under a parliamentary system, which allows the children to learn responsibility from an early age. The children receive free education, routine medical checks, and participate in a number of extracurricular activities, such as sports and crafts. At the end of their schooling, the boys receive vocational counseling and get help with job placement. Boys Town Society is run by the Hoe Homan Charity, which is based in the UK. The project also runs the Madurai Seyashram Girls Home, which was founded in 1956. The home supports over 100 girls, all of whom are orphans or “semi-orphans,” between the ages of 5-17. The project provides education for the girls up to 5th standard. The older girls attend a nearby government school.The organization has a long history of working with international volunteers. Please refer to the volunteer page of their website for more details.Boys Town has many locations across Tamil Nadu. The closest to the SITA Center is in Tirumangalam, which is several hours outside Madurai.


Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion (CASSA)
women’s reproductive rights, sex-selective abortion, gender equality, female infanticide
P. Phavalam and Ossie Fernandes
11 Kamala 2nd Street
Madurai 625 002
T: (0452) 2530486
Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion (CASSA) is a campaign body, formed in 1998, which consists of social action groups, women’s organizations, human rights groups, child rights groups, advocates, educators, researchers, and professionals from various fields including doctors with the mission to prevent the declining child sex ratio in Tamil Nadu and to protect and promote the reproductive rights/health of women and girls.Contact the office to discuss internship opportunities with them.CASSA is located on the road perpendicular to the SITA Center. It is the road that you take to reach Mallagai Sweets. The building is unmarked, so just ask someone to help you locate it.


Center for Education, Development, Action and Research (CEDAR)
capacity building for NGOs
Mr. T. Chinnaraj Joseph
Plot No. 46
Pasupathy Nagar
Madurai 625 017
T: (0452) 2649293
CEDAR was founded in 1994 with the goal to enable NGOs to make effective use of the space made available to them by emerging socio-political, techno-economic, and cultural contexts to address issues related to poverty. CEDAR aims to provide support to emerging NGOs to ensure their effectiveness and efficiency.CEDAR is happy to work with interns. Contact Mr. Chinnaraj Joseph for more details.CEDAR is a 15-20 minute auto rickshaw ride from the SITA Center.


Dalit Solidarity / Community Care Trust
community development for Dalits
Rev. Fr. Z. Devasagayaraj
T: (0414) 7232121
C: 9443086588
Mr. C. Savarimuthu
Director, St. Mary’s Health Center & St. Patrick’s Home
T: (0415) 3267267
Rev. Fr. A. Albert Felix
T: (0414) 557560
C: 944395-57650
Rev. Benjamin Chinnappan
Dalit Solidarity Inc.
P.O. Box 112
Hines, IL 60141
T: (US) 708-612-4248

Dalit Solidarity [a U.S. 501(c)(3) charity] and its sister organization, registered in India, Community Care Trust, work in Villapuram district in Tamil Nadu to provide educational opportunities, healthcare, employment training, social development, and housing to Dalits. The organization includes St. Mary’s Health Center, which was established in 2002 and provides services to thirty villages, encompassing 15,000 people. St. Patrick’s Home, founded in 2000, houses approximately 80 students in grades 6-12. Students are provided with tuition, room and board, books, uniforms, and healthcare. In 2003, St. Patrick’s Community College was founded to provide higher education in nursing, teacher training, and automotive mechanics. Since 2005, the organization has provided one-bedroom cement homes for widows.This organization has much experience working with volunteers.  Dalit Solidarity is partnered with Service Adventours, which brings groups of individuals from the United States on service learning tours.


Development Association for Training and Technology (DATA) / Paving Ways for Development Services (PWDS)
agriculture, micro-finance, fair trade, construction technology, childcare and education, community health, HIV/AIDS
Mr. Reji Chandra, Director
Mr. Leo Joseph Emmanuel, Volunteer Coordinator
11, Kennet Cross Road
New Ellis Nagar
Madurai 625 010
T: (0452) 2603652 / 2605486
Mr. Chandra C: 9443384832
Mr. Emmanuel C: 9442542582
DATA is the Madurai-based office of the larger statewide organization, PWDS. PWDS began in 1975 to aid palmyrah workers. Since it has expanded to focus on other vulnerable communities such as rural artisans, marginal farmers, women, children, dalits, tribal communities, and people living with HIV/AIDS. PWDS has many different projects and programs going on across Tamil Nadu that all aim at empowering the community by promoting people’s organizations, generating community awareness, building community competencies, linking with mainstream services and resources, and influencing government policies. Specifically, DATA works to coordinate network development projects and organize capacity building programs for the many community outreach projects that PWDS is involved in. At DATA, they run a program to develop and offer training in areas of relevance to development. They also provide market support for rural artisans and community-based enterprises. They have opened a shop, called “Palma Corner,” where local artisans can display and sell their work. This shop supports the livelihood of artisan communities as well as promotes fair trade practices.Those interested in interning with PWDS should browse the website, develop a project proposal, and contact Mr. Emmanuel to get approval. You will have to be organized and proactive if you are interested in working with DATA. DATA welcomes all who are interested in being exposed to and learning about community development, so they would be happy to work with SITA students on development-focused Directed Field Research projects.DATA is walking distance from Periyar bus stand (11B, 25 series, 1 series, 48 all go from OCPM to Periyar bus stand). From Periyar bus stand, call DATA to get walking directions. DATA is very near the Seventh Day Adventist’s higher secondary school.


Development of Humane Action Foundation (DHAN)
agricultural development, community banking, capacity building
Mr. M. P. Vasimalai
DHAN Executive Director
DHAN Foundation
18, Pillaiyar Koil Street
S. S. Colony
Madurai 625 016
T: (0452) 2610794 / 2610805
F: (0452) 2602247
The DHAN Foundation is a professional development organization founded in 1997 with the objective of bringing highly motivated and educated young women and men to the development sector. The DHAN Foundation brings new innovations to rural development and works to improve development interventions and to eradicate poverty in vast areas of the country. The Madurai office is the national headquarters. There are presently five main project areas, in addition to ongoing efforts at policy change at the national level.

  • The Kalanjiam Community Banking program focuses on women at the panchayat and village level. Through this program, DHAN helps women’s self-help groups pool resources to get credit through large banks.
  • The Vayalagam, Tankfed Agricultural Development Programme works closely with local farmers for conservation, development, and careful management of Tamil Nadu’s water tanks.
  • The Tata-DHAN Academy is a management institution that offers an 18 month post-graduate program in development management.
  • The DHAN Foundation also works to bring information technology to poor rural communities. A pilot project in Rainfed Agricultural Development offers the hope of increased productivity for farmers.
  • “Democratising Panchayats” aims to strengthen participation and institutional effectiveness at the village level.

Interns with the DHAN Foundation must commit to at least six months of service. Contact Mr. Vasimalai if you are interested.

DHAN would be happy to help you with local bus routes if you call and ask.


women’s development
Mrs. Bimla Chandra Sekar, Director
EKTA Resource Centre for Women
Bethel Nagar, Bible Bhavan Street
Ponmeni, Bypass Road
Madurai 625 010
T: (0452) 2381309 / 2382454
C: 9443377872
EKTA, which means unity, is a training and resource center working towards gender equality. EKTA conducts awareness training for women on the socio-economic and political changes that impact women’s and children’s rights. EKTA is active in capacity building, outreach in the schools, discussion forums in local colleges, study circles, and networking and advocacy with other like-minded NGOs. EKTA is active in campaigning for new legislation and legal protections for women. The organization also provides socio-legal counseling for women in need. They also do gender and masculinity training for men in a hope to end gender-based violence. EKTA has a training center in Kodimangalam, just 10 km outside of Madurai, which provides training for women in need and conducts awareness campaigns about child rights in the surrounding villages. Currently at the training center, they are conducting a tailoring training program for local girls. EKTA is also consistently working on gender-based research and studies. They publish reports based on these studies, discuss them with women and update them every three months.  Reports exist on the following topics (available at the SITA Center):

  • gender and the tsunami
  • family courts
  • gender and HIV/AIDS
  • dowry violence

EKTA welcomes interns! Please consult EKTA’s website to develop a project that fits your own interests and fulfills the needs of EKTA’s current campaigns. English and art classes are popular projects. EKTA always needs help with data interpretation and data input for their current studies and research. Currently, Mrs. Bimla is searching for people to help EKTA develop its website. Mrs. Bimla is also happy to work with SITA students on their Directed Field Research projects. EKTA has a library of gender focused materials that may be of use to many SITA students studying gender relations and identity in Madurai.

From OCPM, take any of the buses going downtown (11B, 25 series, 1 series, 48) to Simikkal. Change at Simikkal for bus 73. OR go to Periyar bus stand (11B, 25 series, 1 series, 48) and change for bus C1 or C3 to Bypass Road. Get off at Ramnagar Stop near to Nagappa Motors. Call for walking directions from there. EKTA is approximately 30-45 minutes from the SITA Center.


human rights
Dalit rights
Mrs. G. Andal
Administrative Director
God’s Mercy Illam
9B, P.T. Rajan Road, 8th Street
(Near Singarayar Colony)
Madurai 625 002
T: (0452) 2526107
Evidence was founded in 2006 by a group of employees at People’s Watch. This organization works to monitor human rights violations and promote social justice throughout Tamil Nadu. Their main focus is on issues on Dalit human rights, and they want to see that government authorities are held accountable for infringing on Dalit rights. The main activities of this organization include monitoring human rights by sending researchers into the field to get the facts of human rights violation cases. They then produce research studies and fact finding cases focused on these violations to provide the government with solid evidence of their infringement on Dalit human rights. Evidence also works to orchestrate media interventions and release the true facts of human rights violations to the public. They follow human rights cases through to the court, and then they organize round table discussions with NGOs, students, government officials and politicians to discuss the issues of these cases. Every three months they organize a strategic training program for Dalits and others interested in learning how to monitor human rights and mobilize their community. through this training program, Evidence has helped to organize the Dalit Civil Rights Forum which initiates demonstrations and public protests about human rights violations. Evidence is also consistently producing studies on Dalit related human rights violations, including:

  • Dalit socio-economic rights
  • Dalit discrimination
  • Dalit temple issues
  • Dalit discrimination in the workplace (government sector)

Evidence has an extensive archive of newspaper clippings focusing on human rights violations since 2006, and their archivist is more than happy to share his knowledge with SITA students. This archive will be a great resource for any student focusing on human rights in their Directed Field Research project.

Mrs. Andal is a former SITA host mother, so she is very enthusiastic about working with SITA students! Interns will be asked to go out into the field and help with fact finding on cases of human rights violations, edit English appeals for social justice, or create and maintain a website.

Evidence is only a 5 minute walk from the SITA Center. It is located directly next to the Program Assistant apartments. Leave SITA and take a left on H.A.K. Road. Take a left when you reach the T intersection. Go straight through the busy intersection at P.T.R. Road. Pass Rainbow Tailors and a Ladies Fancy shop on your right, and then take the first right. Evidence will be at the end of the block on your right.


Family Planning Association of India (FPAI)
family planning
Dr. Louis S. Paulraj, Branch Manager
FPAI Madurai Branch
FPAI Bhavan, FPAI Road
TNHB Colony
Ellis Nagar
Madurai 625 016
T: (0452) 2601905 / 2604373
C: 9442035900
FPAI has 40 branches throughout India with its headquarters in Mumbai. The Madurai branch was founded in 1977 to work in the community on family planning. Since then, they have expanded to work with HIV/AIDS and adolescent health. FPAI is organized around five action areas: access, advocacy, adolescents, AIDS, and abortion. The office is located on a large campus, which includes two hospitals. One is devoted to HIV+ patients, who are treated for opportunistic infections and offered counseling. Their staff members also visit the homes of these patients to counsel families and train them to take care of an HIV+ patient. The other hospital is used for tubectomies and abortions. 26% of tubectomies in Tamil Nadu and 36% of abortions in Tamil Nadu are done in this center. All tubectomy and abortion patients receive counseling and must learn about all their family planning options before receiving the surgery. In 2009, they also began offering vasectomies. However, they only receive 3 to 4 vasectomy patients a month. FPAI Madurai also runs a Young Women Information Centre. This centre travels around to rural areas and offers young girls health education and counseling. Girls can learn about menstruation, HIV/AIDS, and family planning. In 2007, FPAI Madurai opened the Community Care Centre. The purpose of this centre is two-fold. First, it acts to integrate HIV education into conversations about reproductive health. All those that come to the centre for family planning are also offered HIV/AIDS testing. The centre also acts to increase rural access to HIV and family planning information. They have a vehicle that goes out every day to offer pregnancy and HIV screening to local villages.FPAI Madurai asks for a minimum 2 month commitment from interns. They have a guest house for those that need a place to stay. They are also happy to help SITA students with Directed Field Research projects.  For field research or internships, obtain an official letter from SITA explaining your project and submit to Dr. Paulraj.FPAI is only a 5-10 minute walk from Periyar bus stand. Call to get walking directions from the bus stand.


Grace Kennett Foundation (GKF) and Madurai Childline
female infanticide
child rights
child abuse
Dr. (Capt.) Augustus Samuel Dodd
Minimal Access Surgeon
Medical Superintendent of GKF Hospital & Director of Madurai Childline
Grace Kennett Foundation Hospital
No 8 Kennett Road
Madurai 625 016
T: (0452) 2601767 / 4344777
The Grace Kennett Foundation has been in operation in Madurai for over 55 years. The organization’s mission is to “work with competence, compassion and commitment for the sick and the needy, to help the victims of female infanticide and abandoned children first to survive and then to ensure the right of the child to a family.” The foundation advocates children’s rights, works against child abuse inside and outside the home, and advocates against child labor and child trafficking. They run Childline 1098, which provides 24 hour assistance for children anywhere in Madurai. GFK trains local women as community health workers. The foundation believes that all children have the right to a family and therefore assist with adoptions, both in-country and internationally. Finally, GFK has a large hospital, which provides high quality care to those in need.GFK is happy to take female interns for a variety of different projects. Contact Dr. Augusts Samuel Dodd between 10am – 12pm or after 7:30pm if you are interestedGFK is very close to Periyar bus stand.


Helen Keller Service Society for the Disabled
rehabilitation and employment for the disabled; eye hospital
Nicholas Francis
Director of Rotary Helen Keller Talking Book
Rotary Helen Keller Talking Book Library
Madurai 625 014
T: (0452) 2641446
F: (0452) 2641490
The Helen Keller Service Society for the Disabled offers rehabilitation and employment for disabled people living in Madurai. The organization employs visually challenged and other disabled people in industries such as chair refinishing and envelope making. Additionally, an eye hospital in a village outside of Madurai provides a community-based care approach, focusing on rehabilitation, training, and high quality medical care. The hospital trains local women to work as community health workers, providing follow-up care after patients receive surgery or other medical assistance. The Madurai-based Talking Book Library offers a unique opportunity for visually impaired people, who can either come to the library to use the listening facilities or borrow audio books using the free postal lending service.Interns can help with spoken English classes in the evenings with small groups of visually impaired students at the Rotary Helen Keller Talking Book Library. Contact Nicholas Francis if you are interested.After the income tax office, take a left at Rotary Hall. Helen Keller Society for the Disabled is opposite Viswanathapuram bus stop on the right.


Love and Care Children’s Home
village welfare
Rev. Dr. John Arul & Mr. Wesley
Love and Care Office
#1 Old Natham Road
Madurai 625 014
T: (0452) 2642834 / 2527765
John Arul C: 09994341333
Wesley C: 09843459083
Love and Care is a Christian organization overseeing the welfare of eight villages by teaching village residents skills and providing services. Love and Care operates two orphanages around Madurai, housing about 350 orphans. The children attend school on site and are provided with vocational training courses. Sponsors in the UK and US provide for the children’s needs.Love and Care is happy to work with interns. Mainly they are looking for English speaking volunteers to teach English classes for the children between 6-8pm on weekdays, mornings on Saturdays, and after 2pm on Sundays. Interns should contact the main office to set up an appointment to establish a schedule and meet the staff. They prefer Christian interns.The main office is located on P.T.R. Road (Old Natham Road). The building is not marked with any signs, but it is directly across from Balamandir School. The orphanages are located 3 km outside the city and buses only run there 3 times a day, so it is best if interns can arrange auto rickshaws.


Madurai Non-Formal Education Centre (MNEC)
poverty relief
community development
Mr. P. Manoharan
Executive Director
Plot No 15, Fathima Nagar
(Near JK Kalyana Mahal & First Assembly of God Church)
Bypass Road
T: (0452) 2386135
C: 9443477515
MNEC is a very large organization working on many fronts, in particular poverty outreach (working in slums and villages). MNEC is active in organizing women’s self-help groups and they have been very active in organizing large women’s day celebrations for Madurai. MNEC also has an HIV/AIDS awareness and outreach campaign. They work with commercial sex workers and they have a home/clinic for HIV+ individuals. If you would like to intern with MNEC, please contact the Director, Mr. Manoharan and specify the length of time you can commit to a project.From OCPM, take any of the buses going downtown (11B, 25 series, 1 series, 48) to Simikkal or Periyar bus stand. Change at Simikkal for bus 73 or change at Periyar for bus C1 or C3 to Bypass Road. Ask for Fathima Nagar on Bypass Road. Call for walking directions from there. The office is down a side street on the left.


child rights
women’s development
Brother S. James
Maria Complex
Ashok Nagar, III Street
Madurai 625 016
T: (0452) 2384630 / 2384270 / 2383339
Nanban is a very large organization working primarily for child rights and against child labor. Nanban has a school as well as an outreach center. Nanban conducts street outreach, home visits and school placements for street children. The organization has a drop-in center, as well as foster homes for boys and girls. Children in these homes maintain their own panchayats for self-governance. All Nanban children attend summer camps during the summer for fun and confidence. The main center has an auto training program for female auto drivers, and offers workshops on car mechanics and motorcycle repair. The organization has several income-generating programs, including a large Danish bakery, care and motorcycle repair workshops, training units, and a large farm on the outskirts of Madurai.Brother James is happy to work with SITA students and alumni. He will help you set up a Directed Field Research project and/or internship that suits your skills and interests.From OCPM, take any bus to Periyar bus stand (11B, 25 series, 1 series, 48). Change there for bus 26, 68, or 54. Look for the large sign for Nanban Auto Workshop.


New Life Centre
home for handicapped children
Mr. Ebenezer Christopher
New Life Centre
#19, First Main Road
Chandrakanthi Nagar
Bypass Road
Madurai 625 010
T: (0452) 2380924 / 4351924
C: 914522524392 / 919842179709 / 919345102661
The New Life Centre is a Christian organization which maintains a home for socially neglected and handicapped children in Madurai. As of 2009, they have 13 children in their home. The children come from families that are unable to financially support them, but their families remain involved in their lives and visit the centre often. Three of the children study at a special school for disabled and handicapped children. One child, who is unable to attend school, studies at the centre with the assistance of special-needs teachers. The rest of the children attend mainstream schools, and two are enrolled in university programs. The centre provides children with medical care, clothing and food. The New Life Centre also has an office in Chennai that does at-home care for 65 disabled children. The New Life Centre does not have any foreign funding. They rely solely on domestic contributions and sponsorship. It is a project of Word for the World in Chennai.Interns can come in the evenings to work with the children, either by teaching songs, playing games, or simply spending time with them. They would like to have interns teach the children basic computer skills. From Periyar bus stand, take bus C1 and get off at the Purimani bus stop on Bypass Road. You will see an ICICI Bank on Bypass Road. Take the first right after the ICICI Bank. The New Life Centre is located on this street about 200m down on the right. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the New Life Centre from the SITA Center.


Women’s Emancipation and Development (WED) Trust
women’s health
women’s development
Dharma Neethi, Managing Trustee
WED Trust
Madurai 625 566
T: (0455) 2243210
C: 9940836150
WED Trust’s mission is to empower women and children in all spheres of life through education, training, and intervention programs in addition to networking, campaigning and lobbying. WED provides family counseling and legal aid to women in need. WED deals primarily with infanticide, feticide, and dowry harassment, as well as all forms of domestic violence against women. To date, WED Trust has settled well over 1000 cases. WED also provides family counseling and reproductive and child health awareness education. WED has organized women sangams in the area. These women’s groups have  been successful in raising funds and savings to make credit available for health, education, and small business. WED Trust has a cultural team which uses street theater as a means of educating communities across the state.Contact Mrs. Dharma Neethi to discuss and organize internships.WED is located about an hour outside of Madurai, so you will need to hire a car or call WED to get local bus routes.


child rights
child labor
Mr. Jim Jesudoss
Vidiyal Main Center
6, AA Road
(near Govt. Polytechnic)
Madurai 625 011
T: (0452) 267 5632
C: 9443335630
Vidiyal was founded in 1996 as an organization for street and working children. Since then, the organization has grown to include drop-in centers located in seven slums in Madurai. Children attend after-school tutoring, participate in cultural programs, learn different skills including dance, cooking, martial arts, and painting. The children are very active in the Vidiyal Child Rights Movement, which has links with other NGOs and child rights movements in India. Through street theater, demonstrations and other campaigns, the children work within the community in an effort to realize the goal of universal human rights. In addition, children visit different historical and religious sites in Madurai, attend and conduct training sessions, and participate in social forums across Tamil Nadu. Vidiyal also runs a short-stay home for women and two shelters for boys and girls, a medical center, and a drop-in center for working children.Vidiyal has opportunities for evening tutoring. Interns and volunteers must commit to a minimum of one month, during which they must come one night per week.From OCPM stop take any bus to Periyar Bus Stand (11B, 25, or 1). Turn right as you exit Periyar Bus Stand and follow the side of the road. Pass under the bridge, and cross over to the left hand side over some railroad tracks. Continue walking on the left-hand side of the road, past Govt. Polytechnic. Madura College will be across the street. Follow the road to the left of the next bridge for 500 m and Vidiyal will be on your right.


Vasuki Seva Nilayam
short stay home for women
Mrs. Imtias Beham, Secretary
Mrs. Jothi, Rehabilitation Officer
Vasuki Seva Nilayam
4/357 EB Colony
Madurai 625 017
T: (0452) 268 9077
Imtias C: 9443679887
VSN is a short stay home for women, which has been in operation since 1982. VSN provides residential care and protection to women and children who are destitute, deserted, victims of marital violence, domestic violence3,situational crises, and victims of poverty. The women and children can stay at VSN for a maximum period of two years. VSN is currently housing 20 women. VSN provides these women with counseling and therapy. VSN also provides in-house vocational and skills training, including tailoring, embroidery, craft work and other homemade industries.VSN is happy to have volunteers, even for short periods of time. Volunteers and interns can conduct activities with residents
Any form of interaction would be welcome, including teaching dance or songs. Volunteers can play indoor sports or games with the children. VSN conducts regular meetings on topics such as women’s liberation and empowerment – interns would be welcome to conduct relevant skits/games/activities at these meetings. Finally, anyone with computer skills would be more than welcome to help and/or teach the staff. I
VSN is off New Natham Road. Take New Natham Road from SITA past the movie theater, past Ramakrishna Math, until you reach Iyer Bungalow. You will pass a large net browing center and then you will see Meenakshi Medical shop on your left. Three streets after Meenakshi Medicals you will come to a road split by a ravine/dam on your left. Turn left there. VSN is about 500 m down this road on your left located in a building labeled “Association for Social Health in India.” VSN is about 10-15 minutes away from SITA by auto and 15-30 minutes away by cycle.


Thayagam Trust
Miss S. Neela
Thayagam Trust
4-3/8 Kulamangalam Main Road
A. Kosakulam
Madurai 625 017
T: (0451) 264 3616
C: 9994141640
Miss Neela began the Thayagam Trust orphanage in 2005 by taking two children into her home. Now she has 30 boys and girls staying with her, all of whom she views as her own children. She wants to empower the children living with her and encourage self-help and self-reliance. As many of the children have come from difficult circumstances, she offers them counseling services. Miss Neela also wants to enhance gender equity and feels that it is important to give proper attention to adolescent girls. The children all eat their meals, sleep and study in Miss Neela’s home and go to a nearby school during the day. Miss Neela lives there with the children and cares for them herself with the help of her daughter Ruby. Thayagam Trust also offers other services including education camps in poor rural neighborhoods, blood donation camps, women leadership and equality camps, and an eye camp to help those with cataracts.Miss Neela welcomes SITA students to intern at the oorphanage! She would love SITA students to come on weekdays from 4:30-6pm and all day on weekends. She is looking for help with:

  • English classes
  • art classes (dance, singing, painting, photography, etc)
  • data entry
  • website creation and maintenance

Kulamangalam is about 15 minutes from the SITA Center. Current bus routes offer no direct route from Chinnachokkikulam to Kulamangalam, so the best option is to take an auto. If you call Miss Neela, she would be happy to give your auto driver directions.


Teddy Trust
community development
Mr. Ramesh and Mrs. Parvati
Teddy Trust
Tenkasi Road
Tirumangalam 625 706
T: (0454) 928 4500
Teddy Trust is administered by Teddy Exports. Teddy Exports employs around 400 local people to produce items like back massagers, cotton shopping bags, and other textiles that get sold abroad. Through Teddy Trust a percentage of the profits go to community welfare programs. One of Teddy Trusts’s main programs is the local school that they run with special programs for disabled children. They also run a community health center which provides low-cost or free health care, particularly to young women and passing truck drivers. Teddy Trust also has an AIDS awareness campaign that uses street theater to educate villagers about the spread of HIV. Through its “Healthy Highways” Project, the Teddy Trust has set up two booths on highways to provide information and HIV prevention for truckers. The organization also works with community sex workers in Madurai, providing counseling and using peer educators to promote condom use.Teddy Trust welcomes volunteers. Mainly they are interested in SITA students helping in English classes in their school. But if students contact them with another internship project in mind, they will be happy to accomodate you.Teddy Trust is about 45 minutes outside ofMadurai. If you call their office, they will be happy to help you wil local bus routes.


Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative (TAI)
T.T.T.I. Post, Adyar
Chennai 600 113
t: (0442) 254 2302 /254 2355
Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative was launched with the objective of increasing the coverage of HIV/AIDS prevention with sex workers in Tamil Nadu. TAI implements a community-driven STD/HIV/AIDS prevention program in 14 districts in the state. The project addresses male and female sex workers in these priority districts. The initial target of 34,500 sex workers has now expanded to nearly 50,000 male and female sex workers. TAI implements a community-driven prevention program with the guiding principle of making the community understand the burden of the disease, take responsibility for prevention and take control of their lives. The approach fosters sex worker ownership of the program and empowers them to take control over their lives and gain the right to better health. The program consults with the sex workers and creates a space for them, giving them a role in decision making and management of the project, and building their capacity to accomplish these goals.


SUDAR Foundation
women’s development
Mrs. Vijaylakshmi, Director
Zoe Timms, Founder
Old No. 2, New No. 11
P.T. Rajan 4th St. (Sonayar Kovil St.)
Madurai 625 002
T: (0452) 252 7147
C: 9486693800
The SUDAR Foundation provides scholarships and skill-based classes to underprivileged women who are dedicated to higher education and careers. SUDAR is a secular, nonpolitical organization that works with women from 16-29 years of age from underprivileged backgrounds. Each course period they enroll 40 women. The center has five classrooms, a computer lab, and a library. SUDAR offers a one-year diploma course, as well as teacher training, classes in business, communicative English, basic computers, health courses and environmental classes. SUDAR also brings in guest lecturers from nearby colleges, local industries and abroad.SUDAR has opportunities for SITA students to help conduct spoken English classes in the evenings (5pm) with local women.’SUDAR is a 5-10 minute walk from SITA. From SITA, take a left on P.T. Rajan Road. Then take your second right (at a corner shop with lots of sodas in the window). SUDAR will be the second or third building on your left. It is well makred with a large sign.


Sadhana Trust
dyslexic children
mentally challenged children
Dr. N. Nammalvar, Managing Trustee
Sadhana Trust
No. 11, New Natham Road
Maduari 625 002
T: (0452) 253 1629
C: 9994992229
Sadhana Trust was founded in 1989 by Dr. Nammalvar, who is a retired psychiatry professor. Sadhana Trust’s main goal is to mainstream mentally challenged and dyslexic children. They run a school for mentally challenged children where they prepare the children to be mainstreamed. Then they implement inclusive education programs in nine different schools. At each school they have set up a resource room for mentally challenged children where they can receive speech training, parent counseling, etc. There are two special educators and one speech therapist on staff at each of these schools, and they help to train mainstream teachers about disabilities. They also run a medical camp where disabled children can receive free corrective surgery and intervention. And they have public awareness campaigns to ensure equal opportunities and prevent discrimination of mentally challenged youth. Also, they run a program called Home Base Training that works with immobile disabled children at home.Sadhana Trust is interested in working with students on research. They always have surveys and data that needs to be collected (for example, they just did a survey on the use and effectiveness of hearing aids), and they would love to collaborate with SITA students for Directed Field Research projects or internships. Contact Mr. Nammalvar to discuss your interest and schedule.Sadhana Trust is about 10 minutes from the SITA Center on New Natham Road. It is near the Race Course Colony bus stand.


Reaching the Unreached
rural poverty
old-age care
Brother James Kimpton
Founder and Director
G. Kallupatti 625 203
Theni District
T: (04546) 236230 / 236645 / 236785
RTU has been working in partnership with the rural poor in Theni District, Tamil Nadu, since 1974. RTU was founded by Brother James Kimpton, who still runs the organization. RTU is a dynamic, wide-spread organization working on a number of different projects at the village level:

  • general clinic focuses on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention; care for AIDS orphans; home sponsorship program; training community health workers
  • education; offering school through 12th standard for 950 local children; helping place students in medical and engineering colleges
  • children’s villages for orphaned and destitute children; the organization places children in homes with “mothers” who are widows or abandoned women. RTU takes responsibility for all care of these children until they are either married or settled adults
  • housing program; provides decent houses for families. RTU has built more than 60 entire villages – over 8,000 homes
  • eldery; RTU provides a weekly stipend for elderly villagers who are unable to work for thier livelihood. RTU also provides home for elderly individuals who are unable to live independently
  • youth development; educate and train youth in areas of sex and sexuality, HIV/AIDS and global warming.
  • human rights and women’s empowerment; educate and train women in domestic violence issues and women’s law
  • employment; on March 31, 2009, RTU had to close their employment program that trained and employed local villagers in batik making carpentry and masonry. This department was shut down due to new income tax regulations, and it means that 80 villagers will be out of work. RTU is trying to find ways to keep as many of these employed as possible.

RTU has been extremely helpful for SITA students with Directed Field Research projects in the past, and they welcome volunteers and interns anywhere from one day to one year. They have a guesthouse where long-term volunteers can stay, as its distance from Madurai can make it difficult. Generally voluntees
work in their education department or help to build houses, but feel free to propose other projects.

RTU is several hours outside of Madurai. Call and they will be happy to give you bus directions.


Polyagam Trust
eye care
David Ganaiah
C: 9842010035
Polyagam Trust was founded in 1995. They run one orphanage but they mainly work in the field of eye care. They run an eye-camp in the villages surrounding Madurai to provide the community with free eye-care. At the eye-camp they screen for cataracts and help to send those who need it for surgery. They provide eye care and spectacles free of cost to those who cannot afford it. They are also involved in HIV/AIDS awareness, education and screening in the villages surrounding Madurai. And they are beginning projects concerning consumer rights.They welcome volunteers and interns to assist with their medical camps anytime! Contact Mr. David and he would be happy to arrange a schedule with you.Polyagam Trust is located on the outskirts of Madurai about 20 km from the SITA Center. Call Mr. David for directions and he can advise on the best bus routes.


People’s Watch
human rights
Mr. Henri Tiphagne, Director
volunteer coordinator: Cynthia
No. 6 Vallabai Road
Madurai 625 002
T: (0452) 253 9520
Henri Cell: 9894025859
People’s Watch is a national-scale human rights organization dealing with:

  • custodial violence (death and torture while in polic custody)
  • caste discrimination
  • violence against women
  • human rights education
  • Right to Information

There is a constant flow of foreign interns working with this organization. They encourage those interested to look at their website and choose an area or project of interest. Students should propose a project that fits People’s Watch needs but also their own personal goals and interests. Some have helped create and edit manuals in English. For those interested in long-term work with People’s Watch, they do have a guesthouse available and they will provide volunteers with lunch.

Take a right at the petrol station in Bibikulam, and then follow the road to the left. After about 400 m, the road will curve to the right. People’s Watch will be another 500 m ahead on the left. Sign in at the small visitor’s office before entering. People’s Watch is 5-10 minutes from the SITA Center.


Goodwill Social Work Center women’s women’s development
children’s development
child rights
Professor J. Christopher Daniel
Goodwill Social Work Center
no. 5, South Street Extension
Singarayar Colony
Madurai 625 002
T: (0452) 253 1175
The Goodwill Social Work Center is committed to the development of children and women, family social work, and children’s rights. The GSWC has a number of on-going projects, all with the goal of empowering and uplifting impoverished and dysfunctional families.

  • Micro Enterprise Development Program for Poor Urban Women offs income-generating activities for female-headed households.
  • educational sponsorship for children in dysfunctional families in and around Madurai
  • home and school placement service3s for children in need
  • two-wheeler mechanics class
  • advocacy work on behalf of women, children, and members of socially oppressed communities (Dalits)
  • Children’s Rights Center in Yannai Malai wto provide child rights education and outreach

The Goodwill Social Work Center has partnered with a number of different NGOs in Madurai. It provides training and capacity-building for emerging NGOs, and has held several NGO conferences in Madurai to facilitate communication and dialogue. The organization has also worked closely with funding partners in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, as well as the Indian Govt., on many of its projects.

Dr. Christopher Daniel is an academic as well as a practicing social worker, and he is happy to help with Directed Field Research projects and questions. There are many different programs at GSWC, which means flexibility in terms of internships.  Possibilities include:

  • teach workshops
  • help with NGO training and capacity buildin
  • work on child rights education program
  • work in the after-school center in Yannai Malai

From the SITA Center, take a right on P.T. Rajan Road, then take
the first left (there is a small temple on the corner). Pass Andre’s Hospital on your right, and cross the next intersection. The Goodwill Social Work Center will be on your left.


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