Where We Work

Location and Target Groups:

Gingee is a town of about 25,000 people, 150 km southwest of Chennai (Madras) in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India. Our offices are in the town but we do most of our work in the surrounding villages, where we work with marginalised and exploited groups like Gypsies, tribal people, Dalits (untouchables), cobblers, quarry workers, washer men, and bamboo basket weavers.


  • Agriculture is the mainstay of the people. About 86 % of the active workers in the district are engaged in agriculture. Land holdings are highly fragmented and about 89.7% of the land holdings are less than 2 ha. Small and marginal farmers constitute the major chunk of the cultivators. The district also has a concentration of agricultural labourers. 
  • Unemployment, under-employment and migration to nearby towns like Pondicherry, Chennai, and Bangalore to find jobs are very common. Seasonal migration and migration to work in brick kilns, stone quarries, sugarcane cutting and other farm works are common among the landless people.
  • Almost 90% of the Dalits and tribal target populations are landless agricultural coolies. The day wage for male is around 150 rupees and for women it is only half of it.
  • The loss of traditional livelihood means, like hunting, agriculture, and collection of forest produce, have forced the Gypsies (Narikuravar) and the Tribal peoples (Irrulars) to the plains and they are now small time vendors, casual workers, bonded laborers in brick kiln and stone quarries with very little income and no permanent place to live in. The children also become child laborers, beggars in the bus and railway stations, some times with anti social elements.
  • A lack of skills, unemployment, poverty and loss of livelihood means are serious problems of these target group. Further, repeated drought and floods causes the target group face innumerable challenges in even surviving.


There is a high rate of illiteracy among the groups we work with (e.g. among Dalits (untouchables) 55% for men and 72% for women, and among adult Gypsies almost 100%). Parents cannot afford to send their children to school and often keep them at home to work or look after young ones. Of the children who do go to school, only 8% complete eight years of school.

Education can often be seen as a luxury, as it does not bring an immediate income –  when they send their children to school they will lose the income of the child. Therefore, parents are not at all motivated to send their children to school.

Caste Discrimination

In this area roughly a third of the people are low-caste (Dalits). They suffer discrimination in many areas. For example:

  • They are not allowed to use public services like water tanks, schools and clinics
  • They have to do menial work for little or no payment, such as clearing dead animals and burning the dead.
  • Females are often abused by higher castes; girls are teased and women sexually abused.
  • In tea shops they have to drink from separate glasses and are not allowed to sit on benches.

Children’s rights:

Denial of rights of children results in social evils like child labour, child marriage, Child abuse and sexual exploitation.

Child abuse:

  • 53.22% children reported having faced one of more forms of sexual abuse.
  • 21.90% child respondents facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse.
  • Out of the children respondents, 5.69% reported being sexually assaulted.
  • Children on the street, children at work and children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
  • 50% abuses are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.
  • Most children did not report the matter to anyone.

(Study on child abuse in India by UINCEF and Minstry of Women and Children, 2007)

Child marriage:

  • The practice of child marriage in rural India is deeply rooted in cultural values and grounded in social structures.
  • Poverty is one of the main determinants of early marriage. Poverty drives families to give their daughters in marriage in the hope that this will get ride of their economic burdern as soon as possible and secure the family’s honor.
  • Child marriage is also one way of preserving wealth in families of a higher socio-economic class. cultures, child marriage is seen as a way to protect the family’s honor by preventing the girl from marrying outside caste.
  • Protecting the Girl Child’s Sexuality; Woman’s sexuality and virginity play major role in preserving the honor of the family.
  • Inadequate Implementation of the Law e laws result in child marriages being conducted with impunity. Child marriage exists in the context of other gender-based unequal laws and practices.

Child labour:

  • Poverty can be termed as the main reason for child labor in India. The children of these poor unorganised laborers have to find some work to help run the family. They cannot afford to go to school when they do not have food to eat and when their other brethren go hungry. Hence children from such deprived families try to work as domestic servants, or in factories who employ them and remain uneducated
  • Unaware of their human rights and the rights of their children too. The children of such people normally become child laborers around their homes
  • Children whose parents have died or children of parents having chronic diseases or children of broken families do not have any one to care for them so for their survival they become child workers.
  • Greediness of employers to make more profit by employing children who can be paid low wages.
  • In appropriate school education and lack accessibility to quality education.


Gender Discrimination:

  • Gender discrimination places women as inferior to men. Through this, they are unable to participate equally in their marriage, or make choices about their sexual and reproductive health. Their role is often as seen as solely about giving birth to children to maintain the family, and therefore, women’s access economic resources are restricted.
  • Women constantly face sexual harassment and in Tamil Nadu the crime records reveal that more than 99% of victims of rape were acquainted with their assailants in some way.
  • Of the 677 cases of rape reported in Tamil Nadu in 2011, 675 victims knew the perpetrators, according to statistics compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau. The low caste and tribal women are more vulnerable to abuses and they are being abused by dominant high caste.
  • The female population is decreasing. To learn more, please visit the link to this article. 



  • Child survival is a challenge due lack of awareness on immunisation vaccines.
  • There are high levels of malnutrition and child mortality among the target groups.
  • Adolescent girls’ health issues are several and are not addressed properly.
  • Traditional health practices are common.
  • Safe drinking water and sanitation facilities are often beyond the reach of the Target groups.