Tropical Research & Development Centre (TRDC)

Working in one of India’s poorest districts

Of all the NGO visits I have done till date, my visit to TRDC has by far been the most unique. A good five-hour drive from Bangalore, TRDC works in 61 villages in the district of Haveri and 30 villages of Karwar District. Wikipedia will tell you that by road, Haveri is about 340 km from Bangalore on the NH-4 towards Mumbai. It also reveals that the name Haveri is derived from the Kannada words havu and keri, which means place of snakes. So if you’re the adventurous kind like me, you can image how excited I was for the trip down.

But what a Google/Wikipedia-search won’t tell you is that a large percentage (60% according to TRDC) of population in Haveri are landless labourers.

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How it all began

Knowing Mr. Anil Abbi’s story puts everything that TRDC does into context. After all, they work in a fairly unknown (to layman) district that’s quite a drive away from urban life.

Mr. Anil Abbi hails from the district of Haveri himself (Yes, it’s a story reminiscent of the Shahrukh Khan starrer Swades) He was born here and went to school till grade 10 at one of its many schools. He was sent to pursue further studies at Dharwad where they had relatives (or relatives of a relative as that is an acceptable norm in India). He went knowing no English but returned a decade later, with fluent English and a PhD in Chemistry under his hat, at the age of 28. Had it not been for the request of friends, family and farmers back home, he would have gone down the regular working-life path.

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A glimpse into the lives changed

The impact TRDC makes can be seen in more ways than one – from first-generation lerners getting an education to womens’ workload being lightened to farmers being assured of atleast one crop per year.

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Volunteering Opportunities

Check out their website for the latest volunteering opportunities with TRDC. And incase you’re difficulty figure something out for yourself, just shoot them a general email; Anil Abbi will surely help find something specific for you to do. They however prefer longterm volunteers as it takes time to understand their different projects. Also, their projects are located 4-5 hours outside of Bangalore. So paying a visit itself may take a week or so after one starts volunteering – as visits are planned once/twice a month at best and your visit will be combined with this.