Old Age Home ShantiMalai
Traditionally South Indian Women are expected from a young age to help bear the burden of the family. Social factors prevent most women from even considering professional training. Their lack of basic education, the impact of the dowry system, and the demands of family life often restrict their opportunities to low-paying, hard physical labor and very difficult lives. In India, due to religious and cultural pressure, the situation of widows is particularly difficult. They are not supposed to marry again. They are not allowed to attend weddings and family occasions. Their family of origin cannot help them because they are impoverished. They didn’t only loose their husband, but their full identity as a human being. They feel guilty, ashamed of themselves and often commit suicide.
In 1996, Dr. Hugo Maier founded Shanthimalai Research and Development Trust, a charitable non-profit organization, to offer help for self-help to villagers in the Tiruvannamalai area, a largely rural and drought-ridden district in Tamil Nadu. What began with a day clinic, and the training of women health workers, has grown into a comprehensive support network for 40 villages, building Schools, offering trainings and a home for widows as well as creating jobs for thousands of local people.