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Life in Londor

Life in Londor

History

The vast majority of the children we support come from a community known as Londor (a very small number come from elsewhere). Londor are an ancient nomadic tribe from Southern India who traditionally would travel from town to town begging at temples and religious festivals. They travelled long distances by foot as families and slept on the street. They were poor and socially excluded.

Londor today

Sometime in the last 100 years the people of Londor began to settle in small villages around the large city of Chennai. While many community members still travel to reach temples and festivals, they mostly live in more permanent mud huts or plastic sheet houses.

Over time the Londor community have been given small unwanted patches of government land which they have made their own. However, because of extreme social stigma they live completely isolated from neighbours close by. Sometimes they are also physically separated from others by tall concrete walls.

Despite communally owning the land they live on, their houses are unsuitably small, uncomfortable, often dark and leaky, sometimes dangerous. Children and parents live and sleep together in one room, which is unhygienic and lacks essential privacy.

Life in Londor for children

From birth to around the age of 5 children are of most use to their parents. They can be taken begging and give the potential for their parents to earn more money – people will give more money to a ‘cute’ looking baby.

After this age most children are allowed to run free. Most do not attend school as they have no way to get there and no one to ensure they go. Some do attend local government run schools but the class sizes can be large with mis-matched ages and the teaching standard can be poor.

Boys and girls have limited access to clean clothes and food and many have sores from sleeping on the floor and playing naked.

When young girls have reached puberty they can be married and their parents will start searching for an appropriate husband. The Londor community operate under a dowry system and the girl will go to live with her husband’s family once she is married. Usually one year after marriage the girl will be expected to bear her first child and will be forced to drop out of school altogether.  

With the small amount of education each child receives and their limited experience of life outside of Londor, it is highly likely that they will bring up their own children in exactly the same way their parents brought them up.

Life in Londor for adults

People grow up quickly in Londor – many parents have had their first child as young as 16 years old.

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are principle begging days. Community members travel to temples and earn money from other temple visitors. Some men from the community even perform acts of self-harm on themselves in order to earn more money.

The rest of the week can be dull and slow. Some may be lucky enough to find field or farm work, while others turn to drink to pass the time – alcohol is often very cheap and suppresses hunger. What’s more, there is no education about the harm caused by alcohol consumption. 99% of adults from the Londor community are unable to read or write. No one has any savings to pay for further education or training.

Life in Londor for women

Women have it the toughest in Londor, as both the principle beggar, child bearer and home keeper.

Girls are married young and have children shortly after this. There is no birth control to prevent pregnancy and women are very quickly back to work after labour - sometimes the next day! Some women share a husband and must share their home with their husband’s other wife and her children.

Women give their earnings to their husband, which means they have no money to save themselves. They can be forced into drink by their husband and they become addicted easily. There is a horribly high level of domestic violence towards women, which is largely fuelled by alcohol addiction.