Under the Mango Tree – Alumni Meeting


Lamp lighting, what do you remember? Before any good events, we
started by lighting the lamp. Same way our meet was begun with a spark
of light lit by the youngest one in the group.

Followed by a song “Mel padi chavanum..”
The room remained silent, when it was broken by an ‘ice breaking’ activity for us to feel free and comfortable.


A memory…….. It came alive when we visited our favourite mango tree and played a few games along with tea and snacks.

Back to the school……


1. Meetings to be held twice a year May and December.
2. What do we call this meeting and the suggestion came as “UNDER
3. Objectives of this meeting: To help each other in professionally as
well as personally. Help the community.
4) Questions rose
*How to follow up and involve other old students especially people in the
*How to raise funds for the meet? And whether we can save money to
help others who are in need?
*Can we have a T- shirt for our group?
*Wat’s app group: How to make the “UNDER THE MANGO TREE” wat’s app
group interesting and useful others
5. Guide lines “of the meet “: 1) Punctuality, 2) Usage of cell phones, 3)
Stay back for overnight (if possible)
6. Committee: We created a committee for keeping the group alive and
decided that they’ll take initiatives such as informing the group and plan
for next meet (Maya, Nithya, Prakash, Ramesh, Mani, Vennila)


We ended the first day with a sharing session where we updated each
other about ourselves after we left Vidyodaya.


The second day session started with two power point presentations
which were on VBVT activities along with another one on the elephant
project by Manikandan, Ramesh and Vishnu.


We went on a visit to Thorapalli where we interacted with Rama aunty, Harasha anna and Ramdas uncle!

We also visited the lantana unit (elephant project). We then returned to the school.

1) Punctuality: Making sure everyone come on time
2) There were too many serious discussions because of the first time.
Probably we need to have more fun activities next time.
We ended it with a small activity which involved all of us to paint our
hands and put our hand impression as a remembrance.

Vidyodaya Children’s Expressions in the CONSTELLATION

Expressions: Art from children expresses their world in their own perspectives and has never failed to amaze us.


CONSTELLATION is a France based initiative: They work on the theme ‘Art to help the world’s children grow and connect in the world’. Their goal is to encourage the human, economic and cultural development of children and teens through artistic creation.

In the recent edition of their gallery the expressions of our Vidyodaya children has been published.

Download the PDF file .




Reversing the generation gap

What it means to showcase something to our elders and hear from them on what they have been doing all these years.

60 Health Animators from different villages visited Vidyodaya school and there was a mutual exchange of talking about their experiences. We had a presentation on our school, organization and its functions. AFC children had put up an exhibition on their craft and other hand-made products and explained to their elders on what they have been learning here in the course. In turn, the animators shared their experiences on how they support people in the community through various activities right from guiding them for appropriate health access, following up with pregnancy care, child malnutrition management  and so on . They danced together, questioned and learned from each other.




The fact that the animators have been working for the community without any expectations has really amazed the kids and made them realize what it means to work for their own community.

Below is what they got to say:
“We understood what they have been doing for the community. We didn’t know that these many people are working like this in our community. It was nice for me to know they do all these work without salary. I also liked the interest they had shown to take a training and do this work for our community.”

Children Camp

Children Camp has always proved to be effective – the learning that happens during these camps are intangible. Despite the freezing cold of December, we had a very interesting and exciting camp at
Gudalur campus during December 28th to 31st where the camp was run by the children itself. 84 adivasi children from different villages participated in the camp. VBVT Area education co-ordinators, teachers and members facilitated the program.

The camp included various activities including

  • Drama & dance
  • Learning craft,
  • Critical Thinking sessions through Movies
  • Introduction to Adivasi Munnetra Sangam and VBVT
  • Visits to Adivasi hospital and Just Change Soap Unit.
  • Team building activities





The objective of the camp is that the participants would learn varied things during this camp and they would take back to the community/villages and teach – during this process the children would become an anchor/leader/resource person in their villages. That way we can build young leaders in the adivasi community.

The benefits of the camp was immediately realized by the participants and their feedback has given the community hope and spirit to run many similar camps.


I never thought I will be able to teach something like craft. It has given me  immense confidence” – Kethi, Young Trainer

I feel sad to leave after this camp yet I have learnt so many things from the camp. I am motivated to go back and teach in my village” – Kutti Krishnan, Participant

Despite the cold everyone took part in all the activities with great interest without complaining” – Karalan, Facilitator.

This is an opportunity for us to thank Srinivas who rode a 1000 km cycling tour in the Nilgiris(Blue Mountains) from the 10th Dec to 17th Dec to raise funds for this camp. Thank You Srinivas – such support always helps us.



Alumni Meeting – Vidyodaya School

The idea of the meeting up or coming together as ex- Vidyodaya students, was something that took shape in a less than 2 weeks. The WhatsApp group, “Under the Mango Tree”, formed by a bunch of Ex- Vidyodaya students, played a significant role in spreading the message as well as speeding the whole process of getting people together.

After much discussion on WhatsApp, students in the group came to a consensus that there should be a meet on the 24th December, even though many would be unable to attend due to various reasons. Everyone felt it would be impossible to agree upon a date when everyone will be able to attend. More importantly, they felt that there was need to start something of this nature as soon as possible, before the idea disintegrates.


On 24th December, the ex-students of Vidyodaya gathered at the school at about 10.30 am. The majority of people gathered were observed to be those living close by and working in the hospital or in the Shola Trust. Even though many didn’t turn up, the group represented roughly 6 or 7 batches that have passed out of school.

The session commenced with a game introduced by Rahul anna. As Vidyodaya tradition called for it, everyone sang ‘Channeri’ to inaugurate the meet. The meeting dealt with questions relating the meet itself. The question of whether there is a need to come together and the purpose of the gathering were discussed extensively. People felt that there is a need to meet at least once in 6 months. People raised important points about bringing people together to share experiences, as everyone seemed to be pursuing different paths. It was felt that with the increased communication, there is a possibility of becoming a united support system for each other in the times of need. This will also help in bringing everyone forward.

Other than these questions we also shared what we were all doing. Everyone seemed to be venturing into diverse territories. It was rather interesting to learn what each of us were doing. In this light, someone also brought out that this is a platform to have real conversations about each other’s happiness and problems, and hence build strong bonds. There was a smile on everyone’s face as we evoked memories of our school days.


Another important aspect raised was the need to share and communicate with younger Vidyodaya children to inspire as well as guide them. Towards the end, the most crucial aspects on how to bring more ex-students together was discussed. A core- committee was formed to organise future meet-ups. To bring more people together, it was suggested that we make a list of the 6 or 7 batches of ex-students, so that everyone from their respective areas will take up the responsibility of communicating and bringing more people together. However, at this stage we agreed to not include younger children in these meet ups. Akshara’s and Vennila’s batch was decided to be the youngest batch to be invited.

Finally we all decided to brainstorm and gather ideas for the future functioning of these programmes. The gathering finally came to an end with delicious food.


Science and Maths exhibition in SSA School

The teachers and students of our SSA school held an exhibition of Science and Maths projects that they had developed. There were 30 science models and 10 Maths models. In addition to this there was a display of their handicraft products also.

The exhibition was inaugurated by the Head Master of the Gudalur Higher Secondary school and he was so impressed that he insisted that all the teachers of the Higher Secondary school and the children from class 6 upwards to visit the exhibition.

Children busy with their own models
Busy with our models


Do you see what we have to show you?
See how the straws have become pillars for our maths models!
ATM machine? what does that mean?
would you like to solve this puzzle??
would you like to solve this puzzle??
This is how we could learn properties of air.
A green place for everyone!

The Science and Maths models were designed depending on the levels of children and almost all the children got a chance to present and explain their models. So there were simple models from addition and subtraction to electricity and windmills. The Science models included nutrition had varieties of greens, dhals, tubers, fruits and so on. There were also models of separation of garbage, water harvesting and of land use. The Maths models included weights, angles, triangles, addition, subtraction multiplication, dimensions and so on. There was a good display of handicrafts also and some of these were also sold.

It has given the children and the teachers a very good boost to their morale and they plan to have another public programme in January. Cheers!

Craft Week at Marutham Farm School, Tiruvannamalai

Adivasi Foundation Course children and the teachers visited Marutham Farm School, Tiruvanamalai for the Craft Week. Who wouldn’t love learning new craft, songs, dance, games during exposure visits – that is what we did in Marutham School. Every day was fun learning

    • We had 25 crafts to learn – we distributed ourselves among all the craft sessions so that we can bring back all the craft to teach others too.
Clay work
Clay work
Embroidery work
Embroidery work
Leather work
Leather work
wood work at Marutham
wood work at Marutham
Bamboo work
Bamboo work
  • We did hill climbing for the first time – we also learnt how the hill and the Arunagiri Children’s park was created by the Marutham Team.
  • We also got interested when we saw water conservation system, organic agriculture methods, waste management and self-sustainable small business run by women community there.
  • There was a 2 day Mela at the end of the program were craftsmen from different places were invited to showcase their artifacts (available for sales too). Our Vidyodaya teachers also joined us – we did showcase some of our tribal products.
  • There are few things that we thought we should start doing in our place too
    • Water conservation
    • Waste segregation
    • To start the craft we learnt during our craft sessions here

Slow Learners

The other day we had a group of visitors from Maharashtra who are working with government schools trying to motivate teachers and support them in their teaching methods. One of the problems they posed to us was –

What to do you about slow learners? Do you have any specific materials for slow learners? How do you deal with the emotions of the children (and psychologically affected feelings) when children are moved to a lower level?

For a while our teachers who were present seemed perplexed and did not answer. Then they began a whispering discussion among themselves. One wondered what was going on. While they answered the question as best as they could, we had a discussion afterwards as to what was it that had them so perplexed.

The group, in turn, could not understand why we do to specific materials for slow learners. Also they could not accept the fact that our children do not feel upset or disturbed when they are moved to a lower level. We too, could not, at that point answer why.

A day later we discussed this issue as it was a festival day and very few children were in the school. We wondered whether we could not answer the question posed because we did not have a proper understanding of slow learners.

Shanthi said – we don’t have a category called slow learners. All the children are at various levels of learning and it doesn’t really matter to us at what level the child is. There are always some who are fast is some subjects and slow in others. Not everyone is fast in all subjects. Our children do to know that they are slow and their friends do not think that they are moved to a lower group because they are slow. We have moved Manikandan three times back and forth during the year according to how he has studied in the 2 -3 month period. So those who are slow need some support and they
get it anyway as we give individual attention to children.

She added, “We do not have any materials specifically for slow learners. We do have materials but for all the children and all the children use all the materials. If a child finds any one set of materials difficult, then the child does either a repeat or moves on, but comes back to the difficult material at a later stage.

Sivagami – we have seen in another school where they have a separate class room for slow learners with a separate teacher. These children will always find it difficult to integrate with the others. In our school we don’t categorise children in that way. This is why we found it difficult to answer when they asked what we do with slow learners.

She added – As long as children did not feel that one group was higher or lower level than the others, they do not see it as a promotion or demotion.

Shanthi – We do not change groups just once a year and so the movement from one group to the other is not such a big event. Practically every month different children (maybe 4 – 5)move groups.
Some children are reviewed every month, some every 3 / 6 months and so on.


Maybe it is an adivasi cultural aspect, but we take people of what they are and don’t put labels on them because once you do that then we tend to look at them differently and even to discriminate
sometimes. Acceptance of situations, things in nature etc makes one non-judgemental. Children are children, as far as we are concerned. Different children need different kind of attention and because of our group-system and also because we are a small school, we can give the attention they need.
Maybe we should observe non-tribal children when we group children the next time.

Later in the day, with these thoughts still in my mind, I also recalled that children are grouped according to academic levels only during the class time – which is perhaps for 3 hours in a day. The rest of the time they work in mixed groups (for craft, games, assembly, singing, dancing, acting, lunch time) which is for another 3 hours. So they don’t stay within the same the group the whole day /week/ year. This could also be the reason why children in our school don’t feel bad or are even aware that they are slower or faster than the others – leading to a feeling that they are higher or lower than others.

Thank You “The Funding Network”

Thank You ‘The Funding Network‘ to help us raise funds for our ‘Adivasi Foundation Course’ program. It means a lot to us.

Adivasi Foundation Course enables adivasi youth who are ignored by the normal education system to learn to imagine creatively, reason systematically and learn continuously, to confidently interact with the outside world and possibly become anchors in their community by exposing them to various skills and knowledge while staying rooted in their values.