Literacy for Kurumbas

By 1985 I learnt the Kurumba dialect to the extent that I could do a phonemic analysis of the language and write a basic grammar for the same.  Using modified Tamil script I was able to write down the language as well.  By then I also translated the New Reader Scriptures of the BSI which is a life of Christ taken from four gospels.  But now the problem was the Kurumbas must be taught to read and write before the materials would be published for them.

Planning a literacy for Kurumbas is a near impossible task as their hamlets are so small and so scattered in the Nilgiri jungles.  One has to walk two three hours into the jungles to see two or three houses there.  Again another half hour or one hour through the most difficult terrain to find the next two houses.  I had names of forty Kurumba hamlets in my list.  But they are found scattered in the border jungles of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.   How to plan literacy program for such a group was my problem.  Out of the 40 names that I had in my list, I had only visited some 10 with atmost difficulty.  There were two government settlements where they had twenty or thirty families, one near Aravenu and the other near Manjacombai. Children were either not interested in studies or others were in some government schools till they were twelve or fourteen years old.