INDIA: Coorg Organization of Rural Development
Coorg Organization of Rural Development (CORD) is a volunteer organization committed to community development and to providing a sensitive response to social segregation, economic exploitation, cultural alienation, and other dehumanizing processes suffered by the poor. As a volunteer, you will have the opportunity to work with children, including special needs children, as well as helping in a variety of areas from public health to business that supports community development.
CORD was established in 1981 with the commitment to total development for the poor, especially for the tribes in the southern part of Karnataka State in India. CORD envisions a society founded on justice and peace, devoid of all forms of disparity, where all people enjoy equal rights and opportunities and receive their rightful share in the abundantly available resources; thus emerging economically independent and socially dignified.
CORD enables all the people, irrespective of caste, creed, race, or gender, to discover their inherent abilities, explore opportunities to optimize their potential and build skills and capabilities to create better futures.
CORD is located in the southern part of Karnataka, India, with palm-fringed beaches, Maharaja’s palaces, ancient sculptured temples, the largest Tibetan settlement outside of Tibet, wildlife sanctuaries, science hill ranges, and India’s “Silicon Valley,” Bangalore.
CORD is governed by a body of people committed to the cause of social justice and human welfare in cooperation with professionals proficient in community development.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES AT CORD
- Child and adult education
- Teach special needs children
- Provide public health awareness and education
- Provide general healthcare screens
- Provide skills training and support in general business, development and marketing
- Share skills and knowledge related to organic agriculture
- Help with agriculture projects
Building and Construction:
- Provide skills training and education in engineering, building and construction.
- Participate in engineering, building, and construction projects when funding is available
ACCOMMODATIONS AT CORD
Volunteers are hosted in a double-occupancy guest room adjacent to the CORD office. Each bed has a mosquito net that reaches the floor, and there is a bathroom attached to the guest room with a flush toilet and running water for bathing.
The office is situated in the small town of Kushalnagar, which offers easy access to buses, auto rickshaws, internet, international telephone booths, market, etc.
Meals, made of organic foods, are prepared in the home. Volunteers who have special dietary needs or food allergies should note their needs on their volunteer application so Village Volunteers can notify the CORD staff in advance.
Purified water is provided for volunteers.
Electricity is available most of the time. Should the power fail, there is a back-up generator that lasts 12 hours.
Volunteers can access the internet at the CORD office or at an internet cafe in town.
Volunteers have the option of laundering their own clothing or paying a fee to have it done for them. All volunteers are asked to launder their own undergarments.
Reflections on Shammi’s childhood and family
I come from a Christian joint family, with father, mother, grandma, grandpa, 2 sisters, 2 brothers, 2 aunts and their 3 children. My childhood was good and comfortable when I think of that time. Our wants were limited and we were satisfied with whatever we had. In my childhood days, I was always with my family and relatives. My contact circle was very, very small.
The challenges Shammi faced getting an education
Since ours was a joint family and my father and mothers’ income was limited, with no ancestral property, we had economic limits. We shared common books, uniforms, fees, food, clothing, and shelter. Church activities kept us busy and satisfied. Parents gave good convent education for all five children in our family. After reaching higher secondary and college education level, I felt we were not able to spend money unnecessarily.
What inspired Shammi to do the work and how she got started?
After my college degree, my first position was in a hospital as a cashier. In that hospital I was able to see the life and sufferings of the people and I felt that life is more important than anything. This thinking made me change and I started helping people who are in need. Later after marriage, my husband Roy started an NGO. I became part of the group and worked with minority communities, poor and underprivileged groups. Later we focused on the socio economic and education issues in tribal populations in CORD. I believe only education can change the lives of people.
What obstacles did Shammi face?
Many!! Many times there was no support or solidarity from others. There was also very little guidance and never enough financial support.
What are the hopes for the future of CORD?
Surely I hope that I will reach my goals with the help of like-minded people and friends. It may be slow and steady, but surely I hope for the best.
How has your work with Village Volunteers affected CORD?
Village Volunteers has been very positive and supportive. It has been a helping hand. I was in the dark whether to continue my work in Kushalangar or other places. But my partnership with Village Volunteers made me stronger and able to make decisions to continue my work with the Adivasi/tribal/minority and community children in the Coorg area.
How does your community benefit from having volunteers?
Volunteers are useful, helping in office work, doing field visits, and working with the tribal communities. We also receive gifts and funds for improvements in children’s education systems. Personally, volunteer fees helped CORD to stand on its own and be independent. This gave me a more dignified life. Thanks to Village Volunteers and Shana, we will continue our friendship with them long into the future.
Thank you Village Volunteers and all the volunteers who visit Coorg, Kushalangar.