The story of Adivasi Tribal people in a south indian forest becoming self reliant – again!
Currently we are dedicating a percentage of Pink Namaste's proceeds to supporting a vibrant, well established and growing organistation called ACCORD (Action for Community Organisation, Rehabilitation and Development) ACCORD was born in November 1985 to help the Adivasi community of the Gudalur Valley in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu to take control of their own lives as they were being cheated and exploited and might soon have disappeared off the face of the earth, as is the fate of so many tribal populations worldwide.
We are proud to be developing our partnership with ACCORD with a perspective on future collaboration of developing trade and mututally beneficial exchange.
ACCORD is a registered society which has been working with the tribal communities of Gudalur (Tamil Nadu) for the past 30 years. It acts as the organizational back-up and support for Adivasi Munnetra Sangam, an association of the four major tribal groups in Gudalur, with nearly 15, 000 members. The focus and work of ACCORD has always been to ensure self reliance among the Adivasi community and ensure that they meet and interact with the rest of society on equal terms.
Towards this end, ACCORD has worked on ensuring land rights for the tribals - reclaiming more than a 1000 acres of lost land, implemented a host of livelihood projects including a landmark scheme to grow coffee and tea in reclaimed land, formed associations to market precious forest produce such as honey and brought back the idea of community owned property through Madhuvana plantation. ACCORD, through AMS, has supported tribal rights to forest produce, provided legal support wherever necessary and empowered the community in their fight to preserve their heritage and culture.
In March 1986 out of a small office in Thorapally, Gudalur, Stan and Mari Thekaekara started ACCORD as an activist group in response to the rampant land alienation of the Adivasis in the Gudalur Valley and to help the Adivasis organise themselves in order to assert our human rights - especially our land rights. They started with the central belief that Adivasis had to retrieve the ancestral lands taken away from them by force and deceit. ACCORD believed firmly that Adivasis had a genius of their own and that if people could regain their dignity, pride and self esteem, they could once more take charge of their own lives.
Thus began the ACCORD mission. For human rights, health, education, housing and culture; to redesign the systems necessary to help the Adivasi community cope with the onslaught of modernity on their way of life and to prepare them to emerge from their forest retreats with their heads held high. Proud of their culture and their people.
Read about the initial land struggle in our next blog!