Veeranna Arahunashi (aged 59) lost his battle with COVID today (26 Aug 2020).
Veeranna was an awe inspiring teacher, movement organiser, creative farmer, and a pillar of strength to Arunodaya Poirada, a civil society organisation and farm-school located in Papinayakanahalli, halfway between Bellary and Hospet, co-founded by Sr. Mary Mathew with Veeranna. ESG partners with Arunodaya Poirada in multiple social justice and environmental initiatives.
As Bellary district was ravaged by massive illegal iron ore mining during the 1990s and 2000s, just about every official of the Government of Karnataka abandoned caring about impacted villages. Children were worst affected. Mining forced families out of farming, pastoralism and just about anything they were doing to survive. Families, including children, ended up eking a living by working in mines. Children began to drop out of schools as infrastructure was devastated by mining. Little kids were forced to pick up iron ore nodules falling off mining trucks, so they could sell them and supplement merger family incomes.
Sr Mary Mathew and Veeranna worked tirelessly through this grimy situation, without a thought to their own safety, security and their futures. In its initial years, Poirada’s school was in a shack, helping a small group of children to get back to school. This critical intervention evolved over time into a full fledged school, then a boarding school for children in need, and thereafter a farm school even. Thousands of children have benefited in the process.
Veeranna and Sr. Mary never allowed disappointing responses to their appeals for support from various foundations. Working with local villagers they continued to raise little monies to build the school, and our the decades. Poirada today also promotes a variety of socio-economic and environmental justice initiatives, and income generating schemes for women. Hundreds of kids and their families have gained help in the process to claw out of acute poverty. Children educated at the Poirada school have found a footing to survive in a competitive and merciless world.
With Veeranna’s passing, Bellary district has lost a tireless social activist, anti-mining campaigner, inspiring teacher and peoples’ organiser.
Veeranna’s wife and two kids are yet to absorb the impact of his absence.
Condolence messages to Veeranna’s family may be passed on via email: [email protected]