Welcome to Nalamdana, a non-profit organization based in Chennai, South India. Nalamdana has explored the full range of communicative possibilities to reach out to marginalized and vulnerable communities for the past three decades. These include response-driven participatory street theatre, interactive games and puzzles, audio and feature films, television serials, and small group workshops (in schools, colleges, and workplaces). We invite you to join us in celebrating 30 years of transforming lives, spreading health awareness, and creating hope.
Nalamdana was registered as a Charitable Trust in 1993, and by April 1994, our journey began with a small office in a rented flat. Our founder, Uttara Bharath, had a vision – to design innovative communication methods that would deliver social messages to illiterate audiences in a way that was not just informative but entertaining.
The journey took a serendipitous turn when Uttara Bharath crossed paths with R. Jeevanandam (Jeeva) and his group of friends, who were already using street plays to create health awareness. This encounter led to Nalamdana’s first street show on ‘Health and Hygiene‘ in a Chennai slum in 1994. The overwhelming response marked the beginning of an extraordinary partnership that would change the lives of many.
Our core belief is simple yet profound – every individual, regardless of their background, deserves access to accurate and complete information. With this belief as our guiding star, Nalamdana has harnessed the power of innovation and entertainment to empower marginalized and vulnerable individuals and groups.
Our creative methods have reached more than 3.1 million lives through street theater, TV and film projects, community education, and Radio Thendral 91.2 FM. Our performances are specifically tailored for semi-literate and illiterate audiences in rural and urban Tamil Nadu. Over the years, we have covered more than 50 villages in Tamil Nadu and approximately 500 inner-city slums in Chennai.
Our journey is marked by numerous milestones. In just the last six years, we have performed 61 community dramas, 141 puppet shows, and school programs, and organized 72 film screenings and discussions. We have conducted health camps for truck drivers and produced 23 short films on key health issues.
Our commitment extends beyond entertainment and education. Through our Student Leadership program, we have awarded over 341 educational scholarships to disadvantaged students, helping them pursue higher education and fulfill their dreams. Nalamdana also operates Thendral 91.2MHz, a government-sanctioned community radio station that spreads entertaining and informative programs to vulnerable communities.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Nalamdana mobilized rapidly to use internationally validated health education guidelines. We developed audio, video, and print content in both Tamil and English to spread awareness about appropriate prevention and treatment measures. Our dedication shone brighter than ever in this challenging time.
Nalamdana has formed partnerships with companies like PayPal, Cholamandalam Finance, and Madura Micro Finance Limited to implement corporate social responsibility initiatives. Through these collaborations, we have extended our reach, touching more lives and making a profound impact.
As we celebrate 30 years of innovative and creative communication, we remind you that change begins with a simple belief – the belief that access to correct and complete information is everyone’s basic right. Nalamdana is not just an organization; it’s a beacon of hope, a symbol of transformation, and a testament to the power of creativity and empathy.
Thank you for being a part of our journey. Together, we look forward to another 30 years of empowering change, spreading health awareness, and creating a brighter future for all. Join us, and let’s continue our mission of making health and wellness accessible to everyone.
Best Community Radio Program on TB – 2015 – Awarded by “Reach Akshaya”, Chenna- THENDRAL COMMUNITY RADIO BAGS NATIONAL AWARD
Thendral Community Radio, situated at CHENNAI – NEELANGARAI has won Community Radio National Award for www.handwashing.com – awareness programme on Handwashing and sanitation under “COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT CATEGORY” Shri. ARUN JATELY, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India presented this prestigious award to Shri. R. Jeevanandham, Co-Founder & Director Nalamdana, at NATIONAL COMMUNITY RADIO SAMMELAN – 2016 held at New Delhi.
Nalamdana is a non political, non religious registered charitable trust in India – with tax exemption and permission to receive foreign donations. Friends of Nalamdana is a registered 501(c) 3 charity in the United States. We are listed on Guidestar and Charity Navigator. All local regulatory laws have been observed and audited balance sheets and reports are annually filed. Donations in the US and India are tax-deductible. You may review an interim Annual Report here and examine our 2015 Financial Statement here.
email@example.comNalamdana is registered as a charitable trust in India. All donations in India are exempt from Income Tax under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. Nalamdana has FCRA approval to receive foreign funds.
In the United States, tax-deductible donations may be made through Friends of Nalamdana, a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization under the Internal Revenue Service tax code. Our registered address is:
Treasurer, Friends of Nalamdana.
6 Briggs Street, Salem
Massachussetts 01970 USA
For additional information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Development of Health Communication materials project – MFI – Nalamdana MOU was signed between MFI and Nalamdana to make ten short films of duration 5 to 8 min, under the theme health and nutrition, which can be used to create awareness through training and development
amongst the community in rural India.
Completed films under the following topics:
Nalamdana celebrates 25 years on December 3, 2018.
In 2016, Chola Murugappa engaged Nalamdana to undertake Phase 1 of the ‘Drive and Thrive’ Project. Goal of this project is to improve the health, and wellbeing of long-distance truck drivers, cleaners and their families. This included baseline visit, health camps and developing IEC materials.
Completed other activities under this project:
Rotary Global Grant – 2015 onwards – Wash in Schools and Community: Joint Project – Reaching out to underserved communities and their children. The project called ‘Indriya Kuzhandaigal – Naalaya Thalaivargal! (Today’s Children are Tomorrow’s leaders). Constructing individual house hold toilets and creating awareness on the importance of toilet usage in schools and communities.
Nalamdana started their own Community Radio station, Thendral 91.2 FM in the office in January 2014 with permission granted by the Home Ministry, Govt of India. funded by the Rotary Club of Madras Coromandel and Nalamdana’s funds raised for the purpose. Began with programs that were collaborations with the local community and content experts. They were awarded a special project from Dept. of Science and Technology- NCSTC – Govt. of India- Under this, produced 365 Episodes on Women’s Health by involving local urban community women groups. And Nalamdana team created and produced 60 songs and jingles on various health issues, festivals, and National leaders’ biographies. Thendral continues to broadcast daily and enjoys a strong listenership in the broadcast radius in South Chennai.
The Australian Border Security Force- (ABSF), New Delhi, partnered with Nalamdana to address and reduce human trafficking from coastal Tamilnadu- Phases I and II for a total of 4 years. Toured and worked in coastal villages of Tamilnadu.Chennai- Mamallapuram, Pondy, Cuddalore, Velankanni, Nagapattinam, and further south till Rameshwaram and Ramnad dist. This project combined the use of alcohol, its bad effects, and fishermen using their traditional fishing boats to secretly ferry these poor ill-informed migrants, many from Sri Lankan refugee camps in Tamilnadu to Australia. An indirect approach ensures the reduction of resistance to the message. Nalamdana identified and partnered with the Coast Guard and local Police to help stranded boats. They willingly shared their printed materials and helpline information. (Nalamdana always secures permission from law agencies and requires clearance to work in any geographic area.)
Awareness campaign on Civic maintenance and Environmental Sanitation – Short-term pilot project at Kannagi Nagar and Semmencherri re-settlement area -Duration: December 2011 – January 2012
Under this project, a five-day theatre workshop was conducted from 12th to 16th July at Tirupathi for 15 artists.
The trained team was divided into two teams – Tirupathi and Chittoor team and each team performed 9 plays
at their respective ART centres. A total of 18 performances were completed from September to October,
2010. GHTM Thendral PAS model replicated to ART Centres at Govt. Hospitals in Tirupathi and Chittoor, Andra
Pradesh. Nalamdana made songs, Jingles, and audio materials in the local language (Telugu).
In connection to the previous theatre training and performances, UNICEF had requested Nalamdana to do a short-term project from September 2010 to December 2010 addressing the same WES issues focusing on the Thally block of the Krishnagiri District. Nalamdana conducted a refresher theatre training workshop for the 30 select UNICEF volunteers. These trained volunteers were split into three groups and each group was given specific dates to perform the role-play in the 50 identified villages of the 50 panchayats in the Thally block.
Along with the theatre performance, a baseline survey of the same villages was also conducted to analyse the quality of water and safe water practices of the villagers. Addressing Alcoholism and domestic violence – Several partner NGOs requested Nalamdana to address this issue. Creating a special drama and staging this widely helped us understand how to make that script into a training short film- “Nandavanathil” became a much sought-after raining film used widely to trigger discussion and reduce risks for women of all ages.
GOAL project launched in 2010 Jan. This 3-year project was funded by Standard Chartered Bank, U.K., through the Naz Foundation, Delhi. This project which has been running successfully for 5 years in Delhi and 2 in Mumbai, uses a team sport as the medium to approach various issues and engage with 13 to 19-year-old girls on life skills. The girls are groomed as champions and the promising ones are sent for tournaments, or as coaches and life skills facilitators in this program. This project is implemented by Nalamdana in his 4 locations including schools and communities in Chennai.
Safe Child Project funded by ART Venture, Singapore-based organization. This was an interactive art-based project where a play was performed in schools and communities, on child protection & Rights. Workshops and counseling sessions were also conducted in schools where children learned about the issues, created artwork on them, and then presented them to each other in an organized forum. This play has now been made into a feature
film, by Nalamdana, called “Maya Changu” (the magic conch). This short film is specially commended by the Censor Board.
Water and Sanitation Project funded by UNICEF, Chennai. A unique project that uses community theatre, as a tool to highlight issues on hand washing, teeth brushing, proper use of toilets, and safe drinking water. The community participants were trained by Nalamdana to create the plays and scripts, as well as act them out. During the year 2009, Nalamdana successfully staged 160 theatre performances with trained cultural teams performing in 10 blocks of Krisnagiri district. This program aims at spreading awareness through theatre and has addressed a wide range of issues related to Water-Environment & Sanitation (WES).
Nalamdana moves into their own office in Neelankarai- bought with our Corpus fund which became free to use by now.
Funded by World Education- Boston– Reproductive Health and Sexuality sessions were conducted for Adolescent girls. This Girl Child project for 3 years covered local colleges and communities, and partnered with four other NGOs in TN and Andhra Pradesh. Several training materials were developed. Shared widely. Released “Kuyilum, mayilum” audio tape.” In 2006-2009 -. A beneficiary’s forum for sharing their views and experiences as well as an audio CD of songs and a “Pennin Perumai” flip chart on a menstrual cycle about issues related to the girl child were developed by the target audience, in this project
TECH-(Seattle) and Centre for Disease Control-(CDC) Atlanta funded a two-year project in the Government Hospital for Thoracic Medicine (GHTM)Tambaram which is one of the most unique ongoing projects being undertaken by our organisation- as it is in a service provider site.
MASA- UNESCO FUND: Starting Nov. 2006 to April 2007 Nalamdana received a pilot project approval from the ‘MAKE ART/STOP AIDS’ PROJECT with funds to hold monthly role plays and dramas on the same campus- and also introduce a novel cable radio ‘Thendral‘ (Public Addressing system inside the hospital) The project name called “Are you well?”, art in hospital project. Over the last 6 years, this project has been sponsored by:
UNESCO & UNAIDS, Gere Foundation India Trust, (MA/SA initiative), Ford Foundation, U.S., WHO-SEARO, Tamilnadu State AIDS Control Society, (TANSACS)
Hospital project and CR in Govt hospital site (2005 – 2018) A Unique project in Tambaram GHTM Hospital (Govt Hospital and largest ART treatment centre for HIV-positive and TB-affected patients from three states. Nalamdana started with monthly dramas in their open-air auditorium. CDC Atlanta and I-Tech funded regular role plays outside Outpatient clinics and wards. Soon this expanded into setting up a radio room and connecting wards through cable- relaying of epical programs created through doctor/nurses, and patient care givers participation. Funded through 2005-2008 by Make ARTS/STOP AIDS (MASA), UCLA, The Richard Gere Foundation, W.H.O SEARO for gender-sensitive programming, and finally the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation for the final year’s radio programs. Outcomes measured through external evaluation. Presented at several international meets and seminars.
A Tsunami at the end of 2004 resulted in major havoc along the coastal villages of Tamil Nadu. Nalamdana dipped into their resources, raised funds locally toured the affected areas for over 2 years, and used theatre to address key issues in post-tsunami resettlements. This was documented in the film-“Nambikkai” (Hope). After the major flood of 2015 in Chennai, again Nalamdana responded to the affected population and children of Chennai. Theatre is a powerful medium to reach traumatised populations and address some of their immediate psychosocial as well as information needs.
The first Tamil feature film (for training and education) on HIV produced by Nalamdana – “Pesu Maname Pesu”. Filmed the second part with the renowned Dr. Suniti Solomon answering questions on the issues raised from the first part, both were formally released in the two-part film in March 2002. Broadcast on the national channel, DD2 to a wide audience, the participatory contest received 400 letters (days before social media), and the best ones were read out the following week and prizes were given. Since then Nalamdana has made four feature films that have been televised and are still being widely used by educational institutions and NGOs for teaching and training through sensitively produced entertainment education. Aadi Maatham (HIV), Nandavanathi (alcoholism), Maaya Changu (child abuse prevention – specially commended by the Censor Board), and Nambikkai (post-Tsunami rehabilitation). Several songs (collaborations with famous singers like SPB) and short educational films have also been made on a range of health and social issues.
The Earthwatch Collaboration Maternal and Child Health Communications Research Project addressing nutrition from 2000 to 2006, covered both select urban and rural populations in Tamil Nadu. This was funded by volunteers through Earth Watch Institute, Boston. Pilot research sites and urban children sites at daycare centres, drama workshops, interactive games, adolescent girls’ micro-groups trained through video, and school children reached through music. Materials and tools created from this project are still in use.
This network of Earthwatch volunteers continued to engage with Nalamdana after their term. March 2006 saw the formal establishment of ‘Friends of Nalamdana’ in the US, bringing together a group of folks who have volunteered with or had contact with Nalamdana in some meaningful way. The non-profit was established with 501(c)(3) status to make donations in the US tax deductible. FoN has been a critical force in raising funds among US-based supporters to enable Nalamdana’s work in India.
Ford Endowment towards corpus for sustained commitment to HIV / AIDS as an issue – 5 years of project work was accomplished. 120 Community dramas. Theatre Workshops and training Programs and awareness audio, video, and print materials developed for HIV & AIDS Awareness.
FCRA permission received from Home Ministry, Govt. India, New Delhi after 5 years of clean audits and scrutiny. Not many Indian NGOs have this and it is getting increasingly tough to get this permission. FCRA certification allows an NGO to receive funding from overseas.
Student Youth Education and Leadership Program started to help students from economically challenged backgrounds complete their high school. This program was launched at Nalamdana’s 100th drama with a special event in Chennai.
The Ford Foundation– New Delhi supported Nalamdana to cover 111 urban slums in Chennai. A combination of street theatre, followed by community-based interactive workshops and linking the target audience to local service providers followed. Lessons learned were later applied to other projects. Research findings from HIV work data from this period were published in the International AIDS Journal. In 2000, the Ford Foundation gave Nalamdana, and a small group of effective NGOs in India, an endowment for “Nalamdana’s outstanding work in the field of HIV. This allowed Nalamdana to buy their own office space in 2008.
Jeevanandham, Oyyavandhan, and Sampath officially join Nalamdana. The first awareness street theatre program was organised shortly thereafter at Malligaippu Nagar, an Urban slum in Chennai.
Incorporation of Nalamdana as a non-profit on December 8, 1993. Founded by Ms.Uttara Bharath. The first three trustees during registration- Uttara Bharath, Nithya Balaji, and Tara Thiagarajan. Uttara met Mr. Jeevanandham and invited him to take part in Nalamdana.