Kavitha (37) is from Pondicherry, but post her wedding to Aramugam (45), she moved to Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. Both Kavitha and Aramugam are part of the Irula tribe of Tamil Nadu.
Together they have three children - Nandhini (20) who is married and recently gave birth to a daughter. Their son Arulkumar (17) dropped out of school after 10th Standard and is now a carpentry apprentice. Their youngest is Amudavalli (14) who is currently studying in the 9th Standard in a local school.
Aramugam is deaf and mute. When they moved into the village, they made their living through working on the agricultural land cutting sugarcane and fishing. They were often hired by local contractors, and were forced to move around to find work.
Kavitha is a very dynamic woman and a natural leader in her community. She leads the local Self- Help-Group and organises many training programs for the women to empower them. But she struggled with the home that housed her family. Made with thatch and wood, it was difficult to keep the wind and rain out, especially during the monsoon season.
“Before, the rains used to come into my house,” said Kavitha. “Because of this it was broken and falling apart around us. We didn’t even have any space to sit or to sleep. It was a really difficult time for us.”
For years, the Irula tribal community has lived in kutcha houses made of bamboo and with thatched roofs. They live a hand-to-mouth existence as their occupation involves manual labour, fishing or rat-catching. Habitat for Humanity India partnered with the Irula community Kavitha is part of, to build homes with them.
“Habitat for Humanity India saw the dire situation I was in. They partnered with me to build a new home,” says Kavitha. “I am overjoyed to get to live in this new home with a kitchen, hall and bathroom. Here we have enough space to eat, sleep and rest!” says Kavitha.
Habitat India is serving the Irula community in Tamil Nadu during the COVID-19 pandemic, through Hygiene and Family Essential Kits that help them survive the lockdown.