The Nilgiris (literally, the “Blue Mountains”) are the first Indian biosphere recognized by UNESCO and are home to Indian Aborigines, the Adivasis. To remain self-sufficient and to educate their children, they created and developed a tea plantation, which today allows them to preserve their ancestral land without affecting its unique natural heritage.
Growth in the Adivasis population has created the need for a school and a hospital in the area. These services, which previously were only accessible after several hours of walking, are now available to children within their own communities, including girls who were often refused treatment and feared being beaten on their way to the schools further away.
Schools teach reading and writing, but also the tribe’s traditional dances and songs to ensure the survival of their traditions. Adults are also able to attend school with a view to working in the local hospital where patients are treated in their native tongue. Thanks to these initiatives, over 50 of these children are now pursuing higher education, and maternal and infant mortality rates have significantly declined over recent years.
"When I recently visited these Adivasi villages buried in the heart of the Gudalur valley, I found the community nurturing their own modest tea gardens, while their children studied arithmetic. What was once considered a backwards, uneducated community is now leading reform in the region through sustainable development? The hospital is efficiently run by trained Adivasi health workers who nurture a dream to see an Adivasi doctor graduate and work in their community. I hope their dreams come true."