Katradi After-School Centre
In 2018, Thilagavathi Palani, principal facilitator of Katradi and an accomplished Kattaikoothu performer, approached Katradi founders and spoke of her dream of building a centre for the children in her village. She showed photos of a dingy, abandoned room, with crumbling walls and broken floors, lit with a single tube light where older children helped younger ones with their homework. Impressed by the spirit of this community, Katradi built a small centre in Kalavai Kootroad village meant for 40+ children. Thilaga also pioneered an Outreach programme to serve children in far flung tribal communities like Irular and Boom-boom Mattukarar
We built a strong group of youth running all our sessions on gender, caste, environmental awareness, life skills development using Kattaikoothu theatre, Bharatanatyam and Ultimate Frisbee. We ran our signature Lorry Lolakku performances in 2018 in those districts, where several of the children participated in building awareness on gender equality, fighting stigma against menstruation, speaking up against child marriage and more.
The gender camp in May 2019 held at the Centre hosted 15 youth from Arunodhaya Centre for Street and Working Children. This urban and rural exchange was a huge success and the youth leaders that emerged from the programme spearheaded different activities at the centre once the COVID-19 crisis struck the following year.
In August and September, 2020, the Katradi After-School Centre at Kalavai Kootroad started a free kitchen, feeding 150+ kids who were falling into malnutrition since Government schools hadn't started and they could not access that one meal a day. The kitchen was also open to old people and parents who could not afford to cook. The kitchen was closed when parents finally got work and could provide for their children.