NWTWS has been working in the Nilgiris Wynaad since 1978. Our project was originally designed to address health issues and later began to tackle various other problems facing the Tribal community in ways appropriate to their needs, priorities and cultures.
Medical care was completely lacking in the area, even for the simplest of ailments. An outpatient facility and dispensary was built at Ambalamoola on land provided by the Tamil Nadu Government. The clinic soon gained the trust of Tribal patients from far and wide and a 12 bedded in-patient facility was added in 2000. Additionally, medical camps and health education was conducted in remote villages. Field work of this kind continues to this day.
From time to time new health issues emerged. For example, in some villages in the 1980s, a high prevalence of Leprosy was found. This led to the training of a Tribal team which conducted comprehensive survey, enumeration and treatment programmes. Tuberculosis remains a persistent challenge. In co-operation with the Indian Government, NWTWS is controlling TB through detection, health education programmes, surveys and intensive therapies.
A more recent initiative is in the field of childrens education and includes a Residential school and Hostel for 140 children. Apart from formal education, sports, cultural activities, especially music & dance, is encouraged, helping to boost self esteem and confidence as well as preserving Tribal culture and heritage.
Drinking water wells were dug in scarcity areas. Tea and coffee plants distributed among Tribal families and communities to improve their socio-economic stability. This move has also helped in the effective utilization of their land. Through an innovative Livelihood Enhancement Programme, cows and goats have been offered to Leprosy survivors as a means of generating income and improving quality of life.
In support of our work, funds have generously been given over the years by donor groups in the UK and Belgium, local Government agencies, and individuals from around the world. Our seventeen acre tea, coffee and pepper plantation, continues to provide a modest financial support for our operations.
Today many of our staff are from nearby Tribal communities. For NWTWS and our partners, many on-going challenges and issues remain.