Who We are

1984 – 1986 : The Beginning

1984 – 1986 : The Beginning

Stan & Mari come to Gudalur Stan & Mari arrived at Gudalur in 1984 to work on the Paniya farm at Kayunni and were exposed to the various ways in which the tribals of Gudalur were cheated of their rights and subject to daily humiliation.  An incident that struck a chord in them was the subtle ostracisation one young Paniya women faced as she sat down on a seat in a public bus. Their experiences convinced them to start ACCORD in November, 1985 along with K T Subramaniam, a Mullakurumba youngster from the nearby village of Kappala. It was officially launched on March 1st 1986 from Thorapally, Gudalur. They were joined by Chathi, KG Bharathan and Vijayan. The team were frequently approached for help with ration cards, land disputes and individual problems. Soon, however, word spread, and groups of Adivasis began landing up at Thorapally asking for help and advice.  The common thread among all the issues was the loss of their land, which had unmoored them financially as well as socio – culturally.  Stan & Mari recognised that for…

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1986 – Hope in a medicine chest

1986 – Hope in a medicine chest

1986 also saw the beginning of our health care programme, spurred by three maternal mortalities that could have been prevented with simple interventions. As luck would have it, we were blessed with 3 professionals from the medical field, Drs. Roopa and Deva as well as Ms. Sujatha D’Magry.  Together they trained the first group of community health care workers from women selected from within the community. If planting tea changed the way society viewed them, then their role as medical professionals completely transformed it….

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1986 – 1998: Phase I

1986 – 1998: Phase I

The Season of Tea In 1986, ACCORD supported in the planting the first adivasi tea in Thirkapetta, Ayankolly with volunteer French students on land that had been partly repossessed by the tribals. Not a single local person thought Paniyas were capable of planting tea. They scoffed at the very idea. The adivasis were equally doubtful. We chose tea, because it was part of the mainstream economy, well supported by the government and could also, in time, act as proof of possession of land. We had one more key reason for selecting tea despite our environmental concerns.  Tea was a status symbol. Our aim was to elevate the Adivasis from mere local labour, to become tea planters. It certainly changed their position in society. It was the ideal crop for people who were handling money for the first time. If they needed money, they could pick a bit of tea and sell it, earning enough for that night’s meal. Also, it made them credit-worthy for the first time in their lives. This was a regular…

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1988 – Cheenum, Thudi & other manifestations of Adivasi Culture

1988 – Cheenum, Thudi & other manifestations of  Adivasi Culture

The first Adivasi festival was held on January 1988, a heady success which gave the team a huge lift.  We produced a film called ‘Today, we dance for ourselves.’ This was followed by an intensive drive for awareness about the land alienation which was taking place at a devastating pace….

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1988- Land to the First People & the Birth of AMS

1988- Land to the First People & the Birth of AMS

Once we began our work mobilising the community, the animators took to it like ducks to water and soon, “sangams “ started coming up in tribal villages all across Gudalur, often without any  intervention from us. It was decided that we would stage a public demonstration, as a sign of our unity and strength and to present the government with a list of demands. Thus was held a massive demonstration on Dec 5th, 1988, in which 10, 000 Adivasis came together, at the end of which we launched Adivasi Munnetra Sangam (AMS). Go to Our Story Go to Previous Timeline                                                                              Go to Next Timeline    

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1989 – Right to justice

1989 – Right to justice

Our attempts to take back lost land continued in full swing.  Bettakurumbas and Kattunaickens reclaimed land their ancestors had been cheated of in Chembakolly. They parked there in the cold wet monsoon, braving elephant, boar, leopard and bear attacks in makeshift centres. To help consolidate their claims they planted coffee, tea and pepper. This was…

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1989 – Housing & More

1989 – Housing & More

ACCORD has, in many ways, been blessed with the service of visionary people in every field. Housing was no different.   While we have always known the need for better housing in the villages, especially with access and availability of bamboo and thatch decreasing, we never really had a vision for it beyond thinking of it as a roof and walls. All of that would change with the arrival of young architects, Anu and Krishna, from Gudalur. The first housing project was in Kozhikolly village, Devala headed by Cauvery Bopaiah, followed by the housing project at Veramanga by Krishna, all leading up to the project at Kottaimeedu village in Devershola in 2016. Education also had its beginning this year with the first balwadi  (elementary child education center) being started this year at Kottamangalm by Jacintha Vincent along with Kalyani and Theyakunnu Meenakshi. Go to Our Story Go to Previous Timeline                                         …

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1990 to 1994 – A hospital for us, for our livestock too

1990 to 1994 –  A hospital for us, for our livestock too

The need for a hospital had slowly started manifesting among the community. Slowly but surely, patients were beginning to land up in our office. As has always been the case, some benevolent entity high above heard our call and gifted us with Dr. Nandakumar and Dr. Shyla who, along with Roopa, Deva and our first group of community health workers set up the fledgling Gudalur Adivasi Hospital. Subsequently, the first batch of nurses were selected from the community and provided intensive training – Padmini, Sita, Patta, Meenakshi, Ambi, Janu and more. During this same period, Marimuthu Srinivasan joined us and we experimented with providing families with chickens, goats and cattle. Marimuthu also trained the first batch of “barefoot vets”. Our first attempts to preserve the culture treasure trove of the Adivasis of Gudalur also starts in this period with the arrival of Anita and Manu who worked with Lalitha and others from within the community. Go to Our Story Go to Previous Timeline                                                                   …

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1995 –1998 : Mahasabha, Self Reliance & ATP

1995 –1998 :  Mahasabha, Self Reliance & ATP

The plan for ACCORD had always been to pull out in 10 years and try and ensure that within that time, the community be enabled and empowered to ensure their needs and access their rights. Accordingly in 1995, more than 1000 members from the community got together over a period of few days and discussed the future of the movement. This meeting led to the continuation of ACCORD and the need was put forth to have a fully functional Adivasi Hospital as well as a school. Vidyodaya school, set up by Ramdas and Rama, to cater to the needs of the children…

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1999 – 2005: ATLM and More

1999 – 2005: ATLM and More

More than a 1000 Adivasi families had become tea growers through the dedicated efforts of AMS & ACCORD. However, we came to understand that they were being systematically cheated in the sale of their produce and thus was formed the Adivasi Tea Leaf Marketing Society.  Daily produce was collected from all the farmers and sold in bulk to a local tea factory for a fair and remunerative price. Once again, the adage of Unity is Strength was proved. This year also saw an all women Adivasi team visiting Germany. Over this period, the area team, especially the animators settled into their role of empowering and supporting the community in all their needs, be it in obtaining a community certificate or in guaranteeing a roof over their heads during the monsoons. Go to Our Story Go to Previous Timeline                   …

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2006 – 2010: Our Forest, Our Right

2006 – 2010: Our Forest, Our Right

In the end of 2006, the landmark Forest Rights Act was passed by the Indian Parliament which finally recognised the right of Adivasis to live in and conserve the forests they have called home for Millennia. Since then one of our most important tasks has been to work with the community in order to ensure that their rights under this act are secured. This work is ongoing and we have made significant inroads into creating…

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2011 – 2016: New Ventures, New Challenges & The Way Ahead

2011 – 2016: New Ventures, New Challenges & The Way Ahead

The year 2013 saw the revival of Ecoscape, a responsible tourism venture located in Madhuvana Estate and supported by the Adivasi community of Gudalur. All proceeds from the enterprise are fed back into the community. This is meant to act as one of the pillars of our journey towards Financial Self Reliance. http://www.ecoscape.co.in/ PLENTI is another project aimed at bringing about financial independence of the organisation and involves senior professionals from abroad visiting and living here and donating their services to the community. http://www.plentiproject.org/ Starting 2013, ACCORD has worked on implementing a number of programmes supported by Tata Trust. Key among them include livelihood schemes such as bee keeping and skill training as well as pilot housing project using community labour and locally sourced eco friendly materials. 2016 saw a paradigm shift in ACCORD’s work with the decision to develop a new generation of community leaders who will continue with the work. Accordingly a youth programme has been launched to identify and groom tomorrow’s leaders. As the community grapples with the changing times and lifestyles, these young men and women are beacons of hope to lead them into the future. Go to Our Story Go to Previous Timeline  

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