A letter from our Founder Senthilkumar Gopalan
Dear Friends and Well Wishers of Payir,
Warm greetings. My love and regards to everyone in your family.
Mid 2005, we started our work in earnest at Thenur village. Today, 11 years later, we have grown to be a part of life for the people of 18 villages. In this period, we have ventured into providing primary health care, strengthening elementary education, increasing nutrition levels of children, facilitating Government – People interaction both at community and individual level, creating public infrastructure, boot-strapping new income generation ventures, building new community sacred groves and fostering social solidarity.
As with any growing organization, we had our teething problems, our grand successes, abject failures and enormous challenges to surmount. Our most satisfying experience include eradicating production and delivery of illicit arrack (locally brewed liquor), facilitating in forming Panchayat Level federation for Women self-help groups, establishing strong health referral network, getting support from teachers of the Government schools for strengthening elementary education. Its a fact that for many children, Payir is where they spend their happiest moments. Above all, the local Payir family – a strong set of 50 grass-root workers, constitute 95% locals and with an average age less than 35 has been our greatest strength.
We have had some big challenges in bringing about Panchayat empowerment, building employable skills, creating new employment opportunities, penetrating into parental attitudes and with our agriculture initiatives. Many of our friends and my mentors, almost all our well-wishers have given us a very positive feedback of our work here – mainly on the breadth of work, the speed of development and the local ownership. Lately, such recognition has come from media too. You along with the community are all part of this success. Your continued support has brought us where we are right now.
I believe, it’s too early for us to talk in terms of financial self-sufficiency or sustainability. As my mentor, Dr. Regi George of Tribal Health Intiative points, we need to concentrate more on program and process sustainability than the financial part of it. I firmly can say, in Payir, we have come quite a long way in this process. Many of the activities are being run and owned by local resources – they bring in new ideas and know how to take it forward and my role is mostly guidance.
Keeping our operational expenses at about Rs. 40 lakhs per year with less than 10% overheads and still serving close to 25,000 population in multitude of areas shows the team’s commitment. I need to have the independence to think away from financials and deliver where I am best at – being a grass-root worker and leader. I appeal to you to give me this strength. You all have been a great support to me and Payir. Please continue to do so – contributing more for the cause. Let us together take our efforts to the next level.
I personally, derive a lot of energy from all of you. I am sure you will “Give me this energy”.
With warmth and best regards