The operational area of TSSS encompases Chirayinkeezhu, Thiruvanathapuram and Neyyatinkara Taluks of Trivandrum district and Vilavankodu Taluk of Kanyakumari District, Tamilnadu. The Operational Area of TSSS has been divided into Eight Regions;1. Anchuthengu
Ayroor, Mungode, Venniyode, Mampally, Attingal, Angengo, Poothura, Arayathuruthy, Thazamplly
Koithoorkonam, Murukumpuzha, Pudukurichy, Marianad, Santhipuram, Vettuthura, Puthenthope, St. Andrew’s, St. Dominic, Kochuthura, Pallithura, St. Joseph’s Kazhakoottom, Fathimatha Kazhakootom, Pallithura.
Pettah, Kumarapuram, Muttada, Pongumoodu, Monvila, Kosavarkal, Pullukadu, Chruvakkal, Thundathil, Mangattukonam, Chengottukonam, Kariavattom, Pangapara, Vikas nagar, Njandoorkonam, Avukulam
Valiaveli, Kochuveli, Vettukadu, Kannanthura, Thope, Kochuthoppu, Valiathura, Valiathura St. Xavier’s, Cheriyathura, St. Sebastian’s Vettukadu
Palayam, Kudappanakunnu, Christurajapuram, Kulasekharam, Peroorkada, Nettayam, Kanjirampara, Malamugal, Kachani, Punnackamugal, Poozhikunnu, Thrikannapuram, Nanthancode, Mudavanmugal, Vellayambalam, Thycaud, Killippalam, Manacaud
Vizhinjam, Poonthura, Edayar, Paruthikkuzhy, Palapaura, Poonkulam, Nelliyoodu, Peringammala, Vawammoola, Kakkamoola, Azhakulam, Karackamandapam, Ponnumamgalam
Adimalathura, Kochupally, Pulluvila, Pallom, Lourdepuram, Puthiyathura, Kochuthura, Karimkulam, Poovar, Paruthiyoor, Kollamkodu, Chowara, Vellalimbu, Karichal
Neerody, Marthandanthurai, Vallavilai, Eraviputhanthurai, Chinnathurai, Thoothoor, Poothurai, Eraimanthurai
SOCIO- ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE OPERATIONAL AREA
Majority of the target populations consists of Latin Catholics, Muslims, Dalits, and other backward communities. Major features of the land and people are worth noting here to provide the nature of the target communities. Trivandrum district has an area of 2192 square kilometers. As per the National Census of 2001, the total population of the district was 32, 34, 356 with 15, 69,917 males and16, 64,439 females. Among them, 10, 91,661 are urban and 21, 42,695 are rural people. Major religions in the area are Hindu (22, 02,112), Muslim (4, 31,512) and Christian (5, 95, 563). There are 3, 70 857 dalits and 20,893 tribal people in the district. Density of population in the district is 1476 per square kilometer against the state average of 819 per square kilometer. Sex ratio is 1060 women to 1000 men. Latin Catholics, Dalits, Muslims and Tribal communities are the most marginalized sections in the district. Latin Catholics and Muslims are mainly concentrated along the coastal belt depending on fisheries sector for their livelihood. Dalits live as the most marginalized communities within the fishing villages.
The socio economic realities of the target groups of TSSS, especially of Latin Catholics and Dalit Christians are worth discussing here. Education: In a state known for its high place in elementary education, Latin Catholics and Dalit Christians are at the bottom level of education both in quality and quantity. Majority of the older people is still illiterate among fish workers. Though the younger generation has more facilities for basic education, most of them dropout before completing high school. This prevents them from gaining any employment or higher education. Major reasons for this plight are lack of parental motivation, lack of community pressure and poverty of parents. These youth join eventually the millions of unorganized workers or the unemployed. Youth joining for professional courses are very few. General education alone is not enough for obtaining a job in the competitive global markets. Thus the poor are not able to climb up in the economic ladder of good living which is every one’s right.
Health is another serious concern among the target groups whether they are in the urban or rural areas. Crowded habitations in unhygienic circumstances cause to spread major and minor diseases throughout the year. The situation intensifies during monsoon when water borne diseases spread. Low quality of water and lack of proper sanitation facilities are the major causes for epidemics. Health education is not effective and sufficient. Health facilities for treatment and care are very costly and are not accessible for most of the population. The poor are forced to spend for medical treatment more money than that available for food and clothing. Ill health also affects their productivity and causes to loss of job and income.
Heterogeneous nature of the target groups:
The community as a whole belongs to several occupational groups such as fishermen (65%), construction laborers (20 %), small artisans (10%) and small farmers (5%). Economically and educationally situation of target groups is one of the most backward.
TSSS has been working mainly with the Latin Catholic communities, including Dalit Christians in Trivandrum because they are the most marginalized among the poor sections of society. Historically, Latin Catholics are multicultural and multi-racial communion of various ethnic groups. Latin Catholics are ethnic minority in India. It is fascinating to note that there are several castes and sub-castes among the Latin Catholics in Kerala. The reformation and renovation process which took place in other communities in the second part of the 19 century did not take place in this community. The various dioceses followed very different customs and traditions in the Church and community for centuries.
Major occupation :
Major occupation is fishing, marine and inland. As is well known, marine resources are depleting day by day due to man made and natural reasons. Global market forces and players have a great role in reducing these resources traditionally available to fish workers. Other opportunities are bleak for the fish workers because they are not trained nor exposed to any other area of work so far. Alternative employment opportunities are closely related to skill development and training. There are some small farmers and agricultural labourers among the target people. Their life is not secure due to irregular employment and lack of provisions for future security.
The lives of youth without higher education and skills have become vulnerable to many dangers such as drug abuse, mafia gangs, sex work, gambling, etc. They pollute the social life of the community and they are part of the problems of the community.
Situation of women:
Due to low level of education among men and age old traditions dominated by patriarchal values, the situation of women is very miserable. They work hard without any place in domestic decision making, not to mention about social decision making. Gender imbalance is very much visible in these communities. They are no where in the main stream social and cultural life. Majority of women is unemployed and depend fully on their men who dominate their lives in all thinkable manner. Parents give low priority to provide education to girl children who are given in marriage at a very early age with all consequent problems.
Population live in environmentally vulnerable situations. When Tsunami hit the Indian coast, our villages were highly affected causing lot of damage and disaster to men and materials. Marine environment is not at all protected against man made and natural disasters.
Housing has always remained a problem for coastal populations. Many of the families live in government land without a livable shelter. They are prone to sea erosion and other natural disasters like storm and rain.
The situation demands highly effective and meticulously planned interventions in the area of education, livelihood, health, employment, environment protection, disaster preparedness, human rights, women empowerment, etc. Human and physical capabilities of the target groups and the staff of TSSS need to be enhanced to address these inadequacies which make communities live a sub-human life.
Political and cultural realities:
Political participation of the target people is meager and for name’s same. Participation in periodical elections at various levels is limited by casting votes. Very few people are aware of political realities and the need for participation in political decision making in various levels. Youth are not trained to participate effectively. The people are historically depoliticized groups who need a lot of training and orientation to get capacitated to enter into genuine politics.
Politically, Latin Catholics are an excluded community. Political parties very often ignore the needs and aspirations of the community because the community is not politically organized and powerful. The church has not until recently deliberately promoted lay people into the political processes which would have pushed them to socio-economic development. Programs for building up political consciousness among the priests and lay people are few. As a result, we fail to challenge the injustice done to the community. We also fail to participate in mainstream political developments and decision making processes. Latin Catholic presence is nominal even in the Local Self government Institutions (LSGIs). There is also deliberate absence of interaction between people working in various political parties and the Church leadership. Ultimately, the people suffer and their poverty continues with injustice and social discrimination.
Cultural realities receive very low attention from these communities. Lack of basic amenities in life prevents people from finding time for cultural activities. This situation also affects the quality of their lives. The lack of self-respect and negligence to win and grow with others in the changing situation are noted as an influencing factor against their emancipation. Leadership issues are added to this situation. The lay organizations are fragile in vision, mission and strategies and are incapable of providing effective leadership to the people and guidance to the clergy in the matters of social and educational development process. The Community fails to grow like other civil society organizations and mainstream communities.