The project was founded in December 2004 and became part of help alliance since 2011.
The two ethnologues Dr. Hilde Link and Prof. Dr. Matthias Laubscher, started the project after they themselves had experienced the misery of the tsunami in 2004. They founded the project for the inhabitants of “their” fishermen’s village.
Thus Prana had not only helped immediately and directly after the Tsunami, but also competently initiated several long-term projects: A tutoring school, school meals, a therapy center for handicapped people, tailoring workshops and the Lucky-Child-Project.
Currently 170 children are attending the tutoring school, 21 women participate at the tailoring project and 12 outcasted children and their female relatives found a new home in the Lucky-Child-Project
The Prana project pursues a clear strategy: People living in destitution shall not turn into beggars or petitioners that depend on support. The people are offered a living base via schooling and medical program, which should enabled them to create new perspectives themselves and leading them into a free and self-determined life.
The core is the tutoring school: children from three religions (Hinduism, Christianity and Islam) und two castes (farmers and fishermen community) and from the Dalit community (oppressed, no caste) attend the same village school together.
Apart from attending regular classes they may play, draw pictures and dance, sing and laugh. There is a Yoga instructor teaching them very successfully Yoga and by role plays the children learn how to deal with conflicts. Besides the children also experience that having a different religious background and belonging to another caste is no reason for being hostile, but that they should strive for a peaceful coexistence.
Since one of the main problems was malnutrition and a bad health status, a school meal has been introduced. When the children switch from regular schools to the tuition they receive a healthy drink composed by a doctor and at the end of the school day as well as a well-balanced meal with rice, vegetables and fresh fruits. For virtually all children living in unbelievable poor conditions this is the only warm meal they get every day.
In the therapy center of the project handicapped children receive treatments and their mothers learn how to continue practicing at home. These therapies are very well accepted because traditional treatment methods are combined with physiotherapy. In the therapy center mothers are encouraged to escape isolation and to take part in the social community while gaining more self-awareness. The fact alone that children with handicaps are cared for and what counts much more, the smaller and greater successes, help the people to get a better reputation in village community.
Other women from the village participate in the sewing and tailoring courses of the project. The women are instructed by a female master tailor. They bring their own fabrics after finishing the course, the sewing machines may be used, the women may ask for advice and sell the result of their work independently. Thereby they’re able to generate a small income which also brings a little more independence from their husbands.
A special part of the project is the “The Lucky Ones – Unit”. All over India people believe that there are certain persons who bring misfortune just by their existence. This implies exclusion, outlawing and stigmatization for the women and their children: they are outcast by their families.
Prana has created a model institution which is also supported by help alliance: The “unfortunate children” and their mothers are enabled to escape from poverty and distress themselves with the help of training and therapy programs. They can start a new life in a different social surrounding, independently from traditional conceptions. This is how unfortunate children turn into lucky children.
The success of the project is reflected, among other things, in the growing independence of the “lucky children”, some of whom Monica Nowak has looked after personally since 2003: Sangeetha works with a Master of Business and Administration, Preethi with a Bachelor in the same subject, Jaga has become a very ambitious young teacher, and Praveen works in a restaurant bar that is one of Chennai’s top addresses after training in hotel management and catering.
The special school is also so successful that an above-average number of students graduate with top marks. The state awards scholarships for these cases, but these only cover part of the study costs. The help alliance has made it possible to set up a study fund from which the missing funds are made available in the form of a loan. This gives young, talented people from the poorest backgrounds a chance that would otherwise be denied them.