Blog #34, Participant Reflection: Rebekah Scheuerle

11754297_10152883215522680_6874132018673846465_oEnjoy this guest blog by IDDS Aarogyam participant Rebekah Scheuerle. Rebekah was on Team Talir co-creating with Tribal Health Initiative new pathways to monitor and in future, improve children’s nutritional health in the Sittilingi Valley, a beautiful rural region near Salem, India. Prepare to be inspired by her insights about this summer’s project and her current work with JustMilk, incubated at IDDS 2008. Nandri (Thank you), Rebekah!round idds logo png

“The JustMilk Nipple Shield Delivery System (NSDS) was invented at an International Development Design Summit in 2008.” That’s a statement I’ve said countless times in pitches to potential investors, collaborators, and partners. I’ve always known what it meant, in a literal sense. I knew it meant that a team at a conference has been given a design challenge, and had invented a concept for a technology. I knew the conference was aimed at developing technologies for low‐resource settings. I didn’t know what it meant to be part of one.

JustMilk LogoI stumbled into awareness of IDDS when I started my PhD as a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge. I had moved to the UK seeking applied PhD topics focused on international development. Largely because of encouragement from a motivational labmate, an IDDS participant who was an NSDS inventor, Stephen Gerrard, I received the opportunity to work on the JustMilk project. Through my doctoral research and involvement with the JustMilk non‐profit ( I’ve gotten a chance to do technical development, fieldwork and business development for the project. We have now reached a pivotal time, as we are fundraising for our first clinical investigation to test the technology!

When I received the chance to attend IDDS Aarogyam I was elated. It was an opportunity to understand IDDS from the inside. Within hours of arriving I realised it was more than a conference or hackathon; It wasn’t just about the design process either. It was also about empathy. Empathy for not just for the communities we worked in, but for each other as well. This important skill I do believe will translate into the work and relationships participants will have for life.

My team had the opportunity to work with the Tribal Health Initiative (THI) in Sittilingi Valley. This inspirational private hospital provides medical care and health education to 33 nearby villages. Despite lack of consistent electricity and other infrastructural resources, THI has very cleverly developed initiatives to radically improve the health status of local communities (

A particularly striking innovation they showed us was a clever example of innovative engineering: a spring scale equipped with a sling for weighing babies, used in their previous nutrition monitoring programs. When a baby was weighed a lever automatically moved along a growth chart, indicating where a health worker was to place a mark to track growth. This device was effective regardless of health worker literacy level, a remarkable invention. In the demonstration, an actual patient weight chart was used, which demonstrated normal growth of an infant up until six months of age, followed by plummeting growth rates, due to subsequent introduction of inadequate supplementary foods.

Personally, I had a strong visceral reaction to this observation. As someone who spends most days reading about infant health in my doctoral research, I’m very familiar with child morbidity and mortality rates. Regardless, no amount of prior reading and intellectual understanding can prepare you for an emotional understanding, due to an observable, physical manifestation of harsh infant health reality in these rural regions. These realities are so easily blurred and dehumanised when put into abstract figures reported online. I hardly held back the tears when speaking to the health workers, who were able to so bluntly state these trends occurred in 40% of cases when the programme was in place. To them this wasn’t shocking. Being the first time hearing this, to me it was. Fortunately I made it outside before I cried.

Good nutritional status is key to preventing disease transmission. Unfortunately nutritional status is waning due to increased reliance on government rations of white rice over nutritionally beneficial, locally available alternatives. THI is keen to reinstate nutritional monitoring like they did with the infant weight scale previously, in order to understand the current nutritional status of the local communities.

Our IDDS team therefore sought to develop methods of promoting good nutrition, potentially to be used in this programme. We are working to develop integrated tools, through our project “Thalir”, for health auxiliary workers to monitor and record nutritional status in standardized and contextually relevant ways. These tools are meant to double as educational tools, since the health workers emphasised it’s through the diagnosis process they can most effectively educate community members.

Thanks to IDDS Aarogyam I have therefore not just had a chance to better understand IDDS conceptually or to just develop design skills. I have become part of a family of passionate fellow innovators, with unique inspiration to continue working on projects in health, not just through JustMilk, but now through Thalir as well.hiveinnospace logo png

Blog #33, Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock

round idds logo pngWith just a few days before many of us depart for home, we thought you may appreciate a repost of this great blog by IDIN Summits Coordinator Sher Vogel: 

Many of you know what a rush it feels like in the final days to use every last minute to get your prototypes ready for display and turnover to the community. Then the fret as you scour to pack up the tools (not to mention your room) and find your passport that you lost somewhere between the Talent Show and the Closing Ceremony. And, at last, the sense of clarity as you finally sit down on your return bus or plane seat, take deep breath of release and think,  “Wow, that was it.”

Over the last decade I’ve worked for several international programs both short and long term. Most programs are sure to take the time before a program to prepare their participants for culture shock. Very few take the same, equally necessary time after a program to talk about reverse culture shock.

“What is reverse culture shock?” you may ask.

Whereas culture shock is the cycle of emotions (feelings of elation, rejection, and then adaptation) we experience when living in a new place and/or with new people, reverse culture shock is what we experience when we return from that experience—sometimes a mirror image of the first emotional cycle.

As opposed to a typical study abroad program or other international development volunteer experience, IDDS is not a simple two-way street of “my culture” and “the host country’s culture.” Instead, IDDS is like a Delhi-style traffic jam where all sorts of roads and pathways collide into one space and time. Over the course of one month, you learn not only how to adapt to, live in, and celebrate the culture and language of the host country (in this case India), but you also adapt to the culture of your roommates, other participants, and fellow organizers—people from Madagascar, Canada, Spain, Vietnam, Ghana, and elsewhere.  Even more still, you learn the completely new way of the IDDS culture and language: morning circles (whether you love or hate them, they’re there), using colored sticky notes for everything, thinking differently about poverty, and finding commonality in a passion to really improve livelihoods in a co-creative way.

You’ve crossed borders, languages, and several goats and chickens. And now you’re going back home trying to readjust to “normal life” and trying to remember why exactly you went to IDDS in the first place. Some of you may be feeling elated. Some of you may be feeling exhausted. Some of you (I know) are feeling everything in between and finding it difficult to articulate to friends, family, and even yourself exactly what it is you really feel and when and why you’re feeling it.

I’m here to tell you all each of your emotions are normal and ok. They are your emotions. And while you don’t want to be perpetually driven by emotions alone, you don’t want to ignore them either. They are a valuable part of your experience and can teach you things even after IDDS is over. It is OK to pause and enjoy each for what it is, even the tough ones.

Perhaps this is too “morning circle-y” for some of you and you’re thinking, “Sher, just give me some practical tips on how to deal with whatever this reverse culture shock thing is.” And so for all of you, my pragmatic friends out there, I want to share with you some good tips I’ve gleaned from the Peace Corps as well as other programs and articles I’ve found useful even in my own readjustment journeys. I’ve listed their websites below if you want to explore them further.

Each of the tips is important, but I cannot stress enough the value of staying connected. Whether you consider yourself to be social or not, I think we all understand well the value of community, even if it’s only one other person to share the experience with. But know that you have a whole network of people here to support you wherever you’re at (it’s called IDIN ;).  And they are only an email, a Facebook message, a text message, phone call, or dala dala ride away.

With IDDS love and support,

IDIN Summits Coordinator

Tips for Readjusting 

(This is a mashed list from multiple sources all listed below.)

1.  Expect the shock

  • Seek out international news so you don’t feel so abruptly cut off from your experience
  • Maintain a sense of patience and humor, similar to when you initially went overseas
  • Maintain a healthy diet, exercise, and other healthy habits

2.  Share your experience

  • Look for ways to use the new skills and knowledge you gained, e.g. giving a slideshow or talk at your local library or local community group,
  • Write about your experience, and share it with others, or submit it for publication
  • Visit elementary/middle/high schools to speak about your experience

3.  Stay connected 

  • Get together with others who have been to the same area as you (e.g. your local IDIN chapter!)
  • Get involved with international students or visitors that come your way
  • Keep in touch with the friends and contacts you met while you were away

4. Accept that you’ve changed, significantly or in part

  • Keep a journal. This will help you make sense out of what you are feeling, how you have changed, and what you have gained from your time abroad.
  • Continue to explore the new hobbies and interests you developed abroad. Look for ways to use new skills you may have acquired in your host country. Integrate the new “you” with the old.
  • Plan to use your experience abroad as a marketable skill. Transferable skills include working with diverse work teams, demonstrating flexibility, solving problems creatively, dealing well with change, taking initiative, willingness to take risks, demonstrating sensitivity to people from other cultural backgrounds, willingness to travel.

Read more about these tips on CNN’s article on Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock or Evergreen’s Re-entry Shock page. Explore more on reverse culture shock at, the University of Iowa’s IP’s page, or read Pacific’s article on “Returning Home.”  hiveinnospace logo png

Blog #32, Participant Reflection: Paul Chang

Paul (top left) and his team discuss their project at Tribal Health Initiative

Paul (top left) and his team discuss their project at Tribal Health Initiative

Paul’s entry to the design field happened while a grad student in systems engineering at Cornell University, where he was part of a student-led project to design low-cost medical devices. Paul heard about IDDS in February and was intrigued by the unique opportunity the summit offers to design an innovation in one month in partnership with a remote, low-resource community. It was a “perfect coincidence” to hear about IDDS just as Paul was finishing his degree. That said, it was a big decision to say “no” to job offers immediately after graduation.

The IDDS Aarogyam experience in India has affirmed his intention to develop products for people in need. Paul observed that many start-ups focus on trivial matters at a time when other people’s basic needs are not satisfied. He has already begun to share connections and act as a bridge between Cornell students and community needs in Nigeria, for example.

Paul’s IDDS Aarogyam experience with students and faculty from BS Abdur Rahman University has provided a rich local context and insights into how Indian people think. The diversity of backgrounds of participants and organizers from many countries has also been noteworthy. He describes how “remarkable, unique, and amazing” it has been to work with passionate volunteers at the summit.

Paul ChangThough he is from Taiwan, Paul will return to the US when IDDS finishes on August 1st. His ideal job is to work in the medical device field to solve real-world problems and generate solutions to improve people’s lives.iddslogo_2png

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Blog #31: Teams Begin Prototyping

The newborn temperature monitoring team converses with a health auxiliary worker.

The newborn temperature monitoring team converses with a health auxiliary worker.

From a hospital in rural Sittillingi valley to the busy streets of Chennai, participants at IDDS Aarogyam have spent the past few weeks learning and creating with doctors, nurses, health auxiliary workers, and patients themselves to tackle health-related challenges throughout Tamil Nadu. Read on to learn about each of the projects and stay tuned to see how they evolve over the next several days.

Encouraging Use of Helmets for Road Safety
In Tamil Nadu, road accidents are one of the leading causes of unnatural accidental death. Chennai is home to a bustling automotive industry and roads are clogged with a growing vehicle population. Among those are motorcyclists, who find that it is difficult to find helmets designed for children. This team hopes to develop a low-cost and effective helmet and optional child harness that will be appealing to motorcyclists and their passengers.

Preventing Anemia by Increasing Iron Intake
Iron deficiency anemia is a global issue. It is prevalent in the greater area of Kuthambakkam due to an iron poor diet, which can affect everyone. The team aims to create an innovative solution for introducing iron intake through drinking water.

Helping Newborns Breathe
When newborns are having trouble breathing, health workers can find it difficult to provide the proper resuscitation support until an ambulance arrives. Some resuscitation devices are costly, while other devices are difficult to use or require resources like oxygen tanks. This team is developing a resuscitation device that is user-friendly and cost effective.

Preventing Contamination of Medical Instruments
Busy health care workers struggle with keeping medical instruments clean and organized, which can sometimes lead to contamination of tools. This team will develop a “Smart Box” structure that allows for quick and easy organization of instruments in between autoclave cleanings, ensuring consistent and accurate monitoring of medical tool cleanliness.

Improving Elderly Population’s Access to Medication
Chennai’s elderly population faces challenges in accessing medication in a timely and cost-effective way. In some cases, the indirect costs to accessing their medication can surpass the cost of the medication itself. This team hopes to design a decentralized delivery service to bring medication to their doorstep at an acceptable cost.

Educating Couples About Alternatives to Birth Spacing
Many couples in Chennai want to space births by two or more years, but lack information about different methods and alternatives for birth spacing. This team hopes to educate both men and women about family planning.

Improving Nutrition in Rural Villages
Lack of a healthy and balanced diet often contributes to risk of disease in rural India. This team hopes to develop a set of tools for health auxiliary workers to improve infant nutrition monitoring. 

Improving Measuring and Monitoring of Temperature in Newborns
Health auxiliary workers often lack the proper tools for measuring and monitoring babies’ temperatures, and temperature is not the only indicator that signals a baby may need to be taken to the health center. This teams hopes to develop a low-cost temperature monitoring device that incorporates educational decision-making tools for health auxiliary worker and the mothers and babies they care for.

Blog #30, Aarogyam (Good Health) in Action, A Story from the Field

Newborn temperature monitoring team, Sudy in red.

Newborn temperature monitoring team, Sudy in red.

This is a guest post from Sudy Storm, midwife and herbalist, with a Masters in Public Health and a Master’s Candidate in Medical Anthropology from Oregon State University. Sudy is also part of the Healthy, Compaasionate Birthing network ( She and I are on one of two teams co-creating with Tribal Health Initiative (THI) in a remote indigenous farming area of Tamil Nadu state. Our team is co-designing with village and THI healthcare workers a device to measure and monitor newborn temperature, which is especially critical in the 1st month of life.  This is the story of a young mother and the positive impact Tribal Health Initiative has made on the life of her family. Prepare to be moved by it!

A new mother lay on the bed beside her five-day-old son in the Tribal Health Initiative (THI) postpartum room. The village health nurse (VHN), who gave permission for us to ask the new mother for an interview told our research team that the mother had lost her first two babies within days of their births. As we approached her bed, the new mother smiled shyly and nodded her head to our request for an interview. She told the story of her losses following delivery at the government hospital and how she was handed the small bodies of her babies without any explanation of their deaths.

She waited the recommended two years to conceive again, and this time she made the 50 km trip to the THI for her antenatal care. Had the distance not been so long, she would have delivered there as well. But she brought her new son to THI as soon after delivery as she could. The kind, compassionate nurses who care for the tribal patients welcomed her and her son. They monitored her seemingly healthy baby, giving the new mother confidence to trust this time her story would have a happy ending.

This story is not uncommon at THI. This patient-centered model of care is the base on which this facility stands. All village Health Auxiliaries (HA’s) have been carefully chosen by their tribal communities to be trained as healthcare professionals and provide the first point of contact between THI and villagers who need care. In addition to mamababy care, the HA’s have recently been focusing on hypertension and mental/emotional wellbeing. They are committed to walk in service and improve the health of their neighbors.

THI is more than just a private healthcare facility in a country where the infrastructure lacks the resources to care for its citizens. It is a model of local empowerment for a people who now know they have the capacity to care for themselves and guide their own destiny. More information on this place of holistic health and healing can be found at: .

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Blog #29, Community Visit to Tribal Health Initiative!

Tribal Health Senior Staff Prema sharing their model with IDDS participants

Tribal Health Senior Staff Prema sharing their their model with IDDS participants


Two teams traveled to more remote villages served by the Tribal Health Initiative (THI) several hundred kilometers southwest of Chennai. Our purpose was to meet the founding doctors, their amazing hospital staff, and health auxiliaries who provide care at the village level. We also had the privilege of visiting homes and mothers with newborns, as well as farmers practicing organic agriculture.

The people of this area are called the “Hill Tribes”. They were completely without healthcare until Dr. Regi George and Dr. Lalitha George founded THI 23 years ago ( Inspired by Gandhian principles, Tribal Health Initiative provides essential medical services to surrounding villages, and has initiated several projects toward agricultural and economic sustainability, aiming toward truly holistic health.

Satiya (HA) in Velanoor village

Satiya, Velanoor Village Health Auxiliary

The purpose of two Aarogyam (“good health/wellbeing”) teams is to work in partnership with local healthcare staff at the hospital and village levels to improve mamababy health by early detection and management of temperature fluctuation in newborns. We are working to design a simple, affordable solution to maintain optimal temperature for babies at home, focusing on mothers and village health workers called “Health Auxiliaries”.

The second IDDS team’s project to improve health through natural nutrition, and will be the subject of an upcoming blog. Both teams return to the field the week of July 20 to continue the co-design process.

group photo Velanoor-THI #1THI visit #1--Madheshuri & Prema

We are excited to share progress this month and beyond–stay tuned! iddslogo_1png
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Blog #28, Community Visits: Chengalpattu Medical College and Hospital; Overview of Our Projects!

Chengelpettu photo 1 from DaniVanakkam (Hello)!  Chengalpattu Medical College and Hospital was founded in 1965 in Chengalpattu City in the Kanchi Puram District of Tamil Nadu State. It is a public hospital under the Ministry of Health, and is free of charge to the 4,000 patients served each day. Besides having multiple specializations including Pediatrics and OB/GYN & Family Welfare (family planning), it has been designated by UNICEF as a Baby Friendly Hospital. This is a prestigious designation for hospitals that meet 10 guidelines centered around breastfeeding by all new mothers and other criteria related to ensuring a healthy start to life. Family Members are free to visit and bring favorite foods.Chengelpettu from Dani 2

FOCUS OF AAROGYAM (“Good Health”) PROJECTSsee next week’s posts for updates!

1. Helping Babies Breathe–low cost equipment and solutions are needed to prevent asphyxia in newborns

2. Ensuring Adherence to Cleanliness Practices--methods to promote optimal sterilization practices to prevent disease transmission will be explored

3. Involving Men in Birth Spacing--men are a critical part of the family planning equation, yet are rarely involved in the process. This is particularly important in India, where 70% of the women who want to space their next births are using no family planning.

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Blog #27, Community Visits (cont’d); Kickoff of Aarogyam Today!

idds-logo_4pngWe are thrilled that participants from 20+ countries have arrived for Aarogyam (“good health”) global health summit! Today, July 6 kicked off the International Development Design Summit, which runs through August 1st in Tamil Nadu state. During the first week we will have speakers about challenges and opportunities for improving healthcare in India and many activities around innovation, entrepreneurship, and product design for developing countries. And we will learn more about the four community partners we will co-design innovative solutions with beginning next week.


DCIM100GOPROco-design innovative solutions to their major healthcare concerns.0.

COMMUNITY VISIT TO Kumuzhi and Karanpuducherry Villages (Vandalur)

These two villages are located near BS Abdur Rahman University, location of the Summit, and have a close relationship with the university. Our team met with the former leader of the village Panchayat (smallest political division in rural areas). They are part of a network of Panchayats sharing best practices re: providing free water and electricity for villagers, education and meals for the children, etc.

There is a local clinic our projects teams will visit to explore possible collaborative projects. Health challenges are related to malnutrition, anemia, menstruation-related issues for women, and alcohol abuse. To improve sanitation and hygiene, there is a plan to provide a toilet for every family by October 2019, to curb the practice of open defecation.



Farming is the main occupation, though the villages have already begun to create alternate employment, including hosting production by, a welding business, and the new home of Hive InnoSpace.

The villages are noteworthy also because they managed to break the caste system, which is still active in the poorest Panchayats in India. 68%-70% of India’s population remains rural.

Look for future blog posts after some of our teams will be interacting with the villages.

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Blog #26 Useful Tamil Phrases and Greetings

நன்றாக நீங்கள் அனைத்து வர

Wondering what’s written above and what language? ‘Welcome to you all’ in Tamil.

Hello, Namaste, Vanakkam (Hello), Swagatham (Welcome). A warm welcome to you all to Chennai, an abode for all of us for next few weeks at IDDS Aarogyam. Our team is all excited to see all the participants arriving, registering and preparing to kick-start IDDS Aarogyam tomorrow.

Below are some useful Tamil words and phrases. It’s important to know a different language as knowing a different language will give us different vision towards life as explained by Federico Fellini an Italian filmmaker. Well, here are some basics of Tamil language to start with. Sari? (Okay?)

Most of the sentences below are used for everyday life conversations, so they might come handy if you memorize them.

English Phrases                                                    Tamil Phrases

English Greetings                                                  Tamil Greetings:
Hi!                                                                                  Alo!
Good morning!                                                      Kaalai Vanakkam
Good evening!                                                      Maalai Vanakkam
Welcome! (to greet someone)                                    Vaazhga!
Thanks                                                                    Romba Nandri
How are you?                                                 Eppati irukkinga? (or) Nalamaa?
I’m fine, thanks!                                             Nallaa irukéan! (or) Nalam! , Nandri!
And you?                                                                      Nienga?
Good/So-So.                                                                   Sari
Thank you (very much)!                                            Romba Nandri
You’re welcome! (for “thank you”)                              Paravaa illa
Hey! Friend!                                                               Alo! Nanbaa!
I missed you so much!                                       Unnai rumba izhanthu vittéan.
What’s new?                                                                 Enna seithi?
Nothing much                                                                Onnum illai
Good night!                                                                   Iravu vanakkam
See you later!                                                          Apram paarkalame!
Good bye!                                                                       Poittu varén!

Asking for Help and Directions

I’m lost                                                                     Enakku vazhi theriyala.
Can I help you?                                                       Unakku udhavattumaa?
Can you help me?                                                 Enakku udhavi seivienkala?
Where is the (bathroom/ pharmacy)?               Kazhivarai / Marundukadai Engéa?
Go straight! then turn left/ right!                   Néraa ponga! Idathu/Valathu thirumpunga
I’m looking for john.                                    Naan johnnai théduréan. (or) John irukkara?
One moment please!                                                          Oru nimidam!
Hold on please! (phone)                                                         Irunga!
How much is this?                                                             Idhu evvalavu?
Excuse me …! (to ask for something)                           Mannikanum (or) Alo!
Excuse me! ( to pass by)                                              Mannikanum (or) Alo!
Come with me!                                                   Ennodu va (informal) Ennodu Vaanga! (formal)

How to Introduce Yourself

I                                                                                                  Naan
You!                                                                                          Nienga!
Do you speak (English/ Tamil )?                            Nienga (english/ thamizh) pésuviengala?
Just a little.                                                                           Konjam konjam.
What’s your name?                                                              Unga péranna?
My name is …                                                                       En péru ……….
Mr…/ Mrs.…/ Miss…                                                    Thiru…. / Thirumadhi…. / Selvi…..
Nice to meet you!                                            Ungalai santhithathil magizhchi (or) Magizhchi!
You’re very kind!                                                                Nienga romba nallavar.
Where are you from?                                                 Nienga engirundhu varrienga?
I’m from (the U.S/ Sri Lanka)                                     Naan …… irundhu varéan.
I’m (American)                                                                      Naan (american)…..
Where do you live?                                                      Neinga engéa vasikkirienga?
I live in (the U.S/ Sri Lanka)                                          Naan …… il vasikkiréan.
Did you like it here?                                                            Ingu nalla irukka?
What do you do for a living?                                           Enna vélai seirienga?
I work as a (translator/ businessman)                          Naan ……. Vélai seiyaréan.
I like Tamil                                                                      Enakku Thamizh pidikkum
I’ve been learning Tamil for 1 month                   Naan oru maasama thamizh padikkiréne.
Oh! That’s good!                                                                 O! Romba Nalladhu!
How old are you?                                                       Ungalukku ethanai vayasu?
I’m (twenty, thirty…) years old.                                   Enakku ….(age)… vayasu.
I have to go                                                                       Naan poga véndum.
I will be right back!                                                       Naan udané thirumpuvéne.

Wish Someone Something
Good luck!                                                                                  Nallathu!
Happy birthday!                                                                  Pirandha naal vazhthu!
Happy new year!                                                                   Iniya putthaandu!
Merry Christmas!                                                                   Iniya kiristhumas!
Congratulations!                                                                     Paaraattukkal
Enjoy! (for meals…)                                                             Nanraaga saappidunkal
Bless you (when sneezing)                                                    Nouraandu vazhga!
Good night and sweet dreams!                                                Nalla thoungunga!

Solving a Misunderstanding
I’m Sorry! (if you don’t hear something)                                    Mannikkanum!
Sorry (for a mistake)                                                                 Mannikkanum!
No Problem!                                                                        Onnum prachanai illai
Can You Say It Again?                                                         Thirumba sollunga?
Can You Speak Slowly?                                                      Porumaiya pésunga?
Write It Down Please!                                                           Adhai ezhuthunga!
I Don’t Understand!                                                               Enakku puriyala!
I Don’t Know!                                                                         Enakku theriyaathu
I Have No Idea.                                                                     Ennaku theriyala
What’s That Called In Tamil ?                                         Thamizhil enna solvaarkal?
What Does “gato” Mean In English?                             Englishil “lingua” enraal enna?
How Do You Say “Please” In Tamil ?                   “Please” enbathai thamizhil enna solvaarkal?
What Is This?                                                                             Idhu enna?
My Tamil is bad. En …                                                       (thamizh) romba mosam.
I need to practice my Tamil                                              Naan thamizh pésa véndum.
Don’t worry!                                                                           Kavalai padaathey!

Tamil Expressions and Words
Good/ Bad/ So-So.                                                      Nallathu / Mosam / Appadithaan.
Big/ Small                                                                              Periya / Chinna
Today/ Now                                                                           Indru / Ippothu
Tomorrow/ Yesterday                                                            Naalai / Nétru
Yes/ No                                                                                  Amaam / illai
Here you go! (when giving something)                                      Indhaa.
Do you like it?                                                            unakku idhu pidikkuthaa?
I really like it!                                                            Enakku idhu romba pidikkuthu.
I’m hungry/ thirsty.                                                    Enakku pasi / thagam irukku.
In The Morning/ Evening/ At Night.                       Kalaiyil / Maalaiyil / Rathri (or) iravil
This/ That. Here/There                                                  Idhu / Adhu. Ingu / Angu
Me/ You. Him/ Her.                                           Enakku / Ungalukku. Avanukku / Avalukku
Really!                                                                                      Nijamavaa?
Look!                                                                                        Paarunga
Hurry up!                                                                                  Siekkiram!
What? Where?                                                                     Enna? Engéa
What time is it?                                                                  Ippo mani enna?
It’s 10 o’clock. 07:30pm.                                Ippo 10(patthu) mani. Ezhu nuppathu(7.30)
Give me this!                                                                    Adhai enakku kodu
I love you!                                                                     Naan unnai virumpukirén.
I feel sick.                                                                      Enakku udambu sari illai.
I need a doctor                                                             Daktarai paarka véndum.
One, Two, Three                                                           Onnu, Rendu, Moonu,
Four, Five, Six                                                                Naalu, indhu, aaru
Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten                                            ézhu, ettu, onbadhu, patthu
Source/Read more:

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Blog #25, Community Visits: Kuthambakkam

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Members of the organizing team visited three of the four community sites where projects will be co-created. Here is an overview of our visit to Kuthambakkam .community visit #1 (Jimena) (6) community visit #1 (Jimena) (5) Community visit #1 (Jimena) (4) Community Visit 1 (Jimena) (3) community visit 1 (Jimena) (1)

The area uses an integrated rural habitat and economic development approach to improve living conditions in rural Indian villages. This includes working with local people to replace all thatched huts using cost- effective and innovative building materials, as well as providing basic infrastructure. Emphasis is placed on working through the village government (panchayat), and experience gained is shared through a local Panchayat Assembly. The panchayat ecosystem has constantly tried to work for an inclusive society in bridging gaps created by the caste system through generating opportunities of livelihood, education and health.

Shri. R. Elango is a native of Kuthambakkam village and was educated in the village school. Kuthambakkam is only 35 kms away from Chennai on the Chennai – Bangalore National Highway, yet proximity to the city did not bring big changes to the village, which remained poor for generations. During his boyhood he watched violence in his village, particularly drunken men beating women. Petty quarrels often became violent group clashes. This sparked an idea in Elango’s mind to find solutions for the violence.

His passion was fueled when he became a chemical engineer and earned a substantial wage. He started using the money to rebuild the village community and organized youth groups, women’s groups, and farmers’ groups for empowerment. The Kuthambakkam village has become a model in the region. Other villages are looking to adopt the approach, and panchayat leaders have come to learn from the project.

We look forward to helpful projects coming out of our collaboration! Follow the blog for updates on more communities and projects to be conducted with community members.

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