It was a path-breaking moment when the idea of the Community Project was conceptualised by Dr.Bro.George K.J. In the year 1999, while accompanying some staff and students on their annual camp, he stumbled upon Kombuthooki, an interior village of this hilly area. He was surprised and appalled to find many adjoining villages and hamlets (22 villages and nearly 100 hamlets) with around 15,000 residents cut off from outside world, without any basic facilities or means for a dignified life and livelihood
Though original inhabitants,(Malaialis-Scheduled Tribes)- these tribals have no land and no source of income. There are no basic facilities (water, electricity) or roads in the region.The world was not aware of them till the start of this Community Project. The people were exploited to work as labourers in nearby estates. They were plagued by years of superstition and age old restrictions, such as child marriages and women being excluded from the mainstream.School was a distant dream for the children of the area.
Obstacles were many…It was not only financial hurdles for the effective start of the project. Convincing the children and parentsof Kombuthoki and the neighbouring region -to dispel generations of superstitions and misbeliefs was not an easy task. There were also numerous practical difficulties of construction in the rocky, dry, forested land.
Inauguration of the Community School
With meagre facilties and a few well wishers and the sole objective of a life changing project for the people of Kombuthooki ,its neighbouring villages and hamlets and providing quality education to the poor first generation learners, Bro.George K.J initiated the Community Project in 2000 at Koravankadu which is near the village of Kombuthooki with just 7 students. Later, on 12th December 2001, with the blessings of the village elders, “The Community School ” and “The Community Centre ” were launched.
Initially Bro.George K.J and his collaborators collected children, both boys and girls –(age 3yrs to 16yrs). They were grouped not by their physical age but by their mental capacity to learn.
The small beginning made great strides-the numbers increased to 100 and soon to 235.Today(academic year 2014-2015) the Community School has a total strength of 836 (all of them first generation learners)-475 boys and 351 girls.
It is important to note here that Salem district was topping the list in female infanticide. But today, with the intervention of the Community School,which believes in educating the girl child and providing equal opportunities without any gender bias, the situation has changed drastically and the number is almost nil in Kombuthooki and the neighbouring villages.
Recognition: A fully completed Community Building was inaugurated in the year 2002. Initially approved up to Std V, the school was upgraded to High School in 2007 and Higher Secondary in2008. Though recognised for nearly a decade, lack of funds remains the major road block. We seek government and other sponsors and well wishers to be a part of this 21st Century Human Empowerment programme.