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The village of Mangamanuthu surrounds St Marcellin High School. It is about 17 km east of Dindigul, a regional centre inside the state of Tamil Nadu. It is extremely poor, has suffered from years of intermittent drought, and the principal economic activity is subsistence farming and farm labouring.

In our first report after we returned from India you can read what we encountered there and some ideas that were developed by the group in response to the conditions we found.

When we returned to Scotland we presented the report and supporting photographs and videos to both the school and the wider community in Dundee and as far afield as Glasgow. What had started as a school based project soon began to spread as more people gave their support and said that they wanted to help.

Soon we were in a position to act on one of the three areas in our report: to try to provide some new houses for the poorest families in the village. We consulted the Marist Brothers in India who, after careful costings. indicated that initially £750 would secure a plot of land and build a small but secure house. We had raised enough money by this time so we opted to build five houses to start off the project, and the laying of the first foundations can be seen here.

It was then agreed that while labour and equipment was on site to build the first extension to the school the same workers could construct these houses, saving the labour costs.

However the Commonwealth Games hosted by India drove up construction costs and land prices by over 500% so that today to build a new village house needs just under £4,000.

Our plans to rebuild a large part of the village took a setback and we have had to revise our original time scale. But we have still agreed to try to complete more houses and this year are in the position to build three more at a cost of £12.000.

The Villagers decided to name the houses afterplaces and people who had raised the funds and we were surprised to find plaques on each of the completed houses naming each one after the Schools who were first involved, or the Project founders, and also the SVDP, in Dundee, who donated a substantial sum to the Project.

Unfortunately the completion of one of the houses had come too late for one of the families, whose baby son was bitten by a snake and died as he was asleep in his old house shortly before the handover of the new home.

The brothers suggested that if we were looking to help the villagers earn a little money then we might be able to provide some livestock to help supplement the income of the villagers. Goats were best suited to the ongoing drought conditions so it was arranged that subsequent groups going out to Mangamanuthu would bring enough money to be able to buy some goats for breeding. The handovers can be seen in these photographs.

Sunbsequent visits have shown a healthy increase in the goat herd to the extend that there are now enough to be self sustaining, and once the kids mature some are being sold, and others are being used for more breeding, and also there was enough income generated to buy in fresh stock to maintain a healthy gene pool.

And to think that a wag in Dundee had remarked that the goats would simply be eaten!

Mangamanuthu first view
Our first time in the village in 2007
The housing is fragile and often dangerous, and offers little protection from the elements or poisonous creatures.
huts in Mangamanuthu
Through a doorway
A glimpse inside a house, and its young resident!
Laying the first foundations
Laying Foundations
Douglas' House
One of the first Houses, named after one of the founders of the Project
The House named after Lawside Academy where the Project started
Lawside RC Academy House
St Paul's House
The House named after St Paul's Academy which has provided the Project with a base
The House named after the Dundee Branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society, donors to the Project
SVDP House
The Gift of Goats
The handover of the first goats
We still have a way to go!
More old houses