See also THE MEDICAL FUNDATION
The main place in DACA :
On the initiative of Father Antony
Raj, a Jesuit who lives in India, himself a Dalit, a centre
for development and solidarity for Dalits (DACA) has progressively
been established in Madurai (Tamil Nadu). The long term aim of DACA
is to make untouchability disappear and give back
to Dalits their social dignity. To accomplish this, numerous
authorisations were required as well as financial means. It also
meant important building sites mobilising the energy and hope of
II. DACA HAS A TWO FOLD ACTION :
It supports human development through education: night school,
libraries, continuous training for village teachers, computer classes
It encourages economic development with structures adapted
to local needs: agricultural co-operation, incentives for creating
businesses, help for local crafts, micro-credits, management classes
for families or businesses.
III. SHORT TERM PLANS OF DACA :
- July 1999 : Inauguration of DACA buildings
- July 2000 : Official launch of DACA activities
On the Campus (actualities and projects) :
- At this time, 200 students live on Campus.
- DACA wishes to double this in the near future
This years' program
- 6 months Computer Training opened to 40 rural Dalits.
This course should soon be offered to more according to budget.
- Training Seminars (management, savings, education
- Schooling help and initiation to computers for all residents.
Being done this year:
- Construction of a hostel for the girls financed by the
Japanese Consulate in India. :
- New programs for professional training (media, mechanics
In the villages :
- Night School is present in 200 villages. This initiative relies
on local help from development relays (animations and co-ordination)
that meet every two months at DACA.
- Milking Co-operatives led by Women are progressively being set
up. They are already operational in O. Kovilpatti.
- 3 farms cultivating rice, sugar cane and fruits have been created
by DACA in Virudhu Nagar, Krishnankoli and Kuthiraikuthi to produce,
at a low cost, the food necessary for the children on Campus ;
they employ 7 people permanently and around 60 season workers.
- Groups for savings, self-help groups thanks to micro-credit
are co-ordinated and managed by DACA.
- Cultural activities such as acting, personal expression are
also co-ordinated by DACA
IV. LONG TERM PLANS OF DACA :
If the financial resources are sufficient, DACA would like to encompass
in its activities:
- A high school and a technical university, offering training
in Computer skills, Electronic Parts, plumbing and electricity,
two-wheels mechanics, woodwork, hotel skills.
- A preparation centre for Public Service Exams and for all jobs
which require an exam.
- A training institute for professors and school teachers
- An insertion help team and counselling for professionals
- A driving school
- A research centre on Dalits
- A documentation Centre
- A production unit for sound and audio.
- A publishing house
V. LIFE ON CAMPUS
For the moment DACA offers:
- A practical course in computer sciences for youths from a rural
background planning to work with secretarial skills. They are
taught how to use the basic software: Word, Excel, Power Point,
they are offered the opportunity to familiarise themselves with
the use of a scanner, a printer and the Internet (40 students).
Amuda and Mallika, teachers and responsible for the computer
- A free university residence for students attending the professional
high school in Madurai (Community College: 57 students), and for
those attending the neighbouring school (St Ann's High School
: 36 students).
NB. If financial resources allow it, DACA wishes to offer professional
training to these students and to widen this co-operation to other
- Help classes in English and Computer are given every evening
to each campus resident which motivates the students by creating
a working atmosphere hard to find in these youth's families.
- Sports and artistic activities (singing, dancing, personal expression,
mime and drawing) are organised weekly.
- Conferences on Dalit dignity which aim at reinforcing these
children's confidence or presenting historical figures in the
struggle against untouchability (M. Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar...)
are organised weekly.
VI. DACA ACTION IN VILLAGES
Team of people responsible for co-ordinating activities
led in the villages: Karuppasamy, Athithan, Sakiya, Kerthikeyan.
- Help for family savings in accordance with the family
project so as to procure a supplement of income.
For instance buying a sewing machine, thanks to the accumulation
of a little saving capital, will allow to develop a sewing
business. Other homes might start making brooms, toys, fantasy
jewellery, bags. Once a week, they will go to the city to
sell their production on the market
In the village of Koodakovil, Sumathi is responsible for
a self-help group and works on the sewing machine she bought
thanks to her savings.
- Night School is given thanks to development relays in 200 villages.
These are English classes and extra helps in all subjects taught
at school. The children are between 6 and 15 years old and work
in groups helped by adults: they can do their homework, read their
lessons and practice oral English
- Cultural activities, dancing, traditional music and personal
Amongst the cultural activities, the traditional Dalit drum, the
"parai" or "thappou" transforms a musical gift
used only for funerary rites into a proudness on feast days
A newspaper "Min Mini" (this means glow-worm in Tamil)
is printed in 2 000 copies every two months (10 numbers have already
been published) and is distributed in the 200 villages. It allows
the children to express their hopes, their expectancy and sometimes
"I respect all religions"
P. Muruheshwari (age 11)
Here are some extracts:
" When a seed falls it grows into a tree
When a tree falls it is used as firewood
When rain falls it forms rivers,
O human why do you say that it is fate, when you fall?"
P.Isakkiraj (14 years old, Devadanam
"Water will not stick to lotus leaves.
So also the words from politicians will never stick to the
A.Sakki ( 13 years old , Devadanam village)
"There is liberty to take the cudgel for the politician,
There is liberty to take the gun for the police
There is liberty to demolish the mosques and churches for
the religious fanatics
There is libertyto bomb the public places for the ultras
There is libertyto receive bribes for the bureaucrats
There is liberty to rape women for bogus sanyasis
There is liberty to form caste associations for the caste
Dalit hero, what is true liberty for you?
When will you get true liberty?
Learn! Unite Start your own liberation!"
Mahalakshmi (15 years old, Sivagiri village )
- Milking co-operatives.
For this particular activity, DACA has chosen to employ only women
so as to make them a privileged tool for female promotion in the
villages. The main and most operational of these co-operatives
is in O. Kovilpatti village.