Ignited by his previous experiences, and educational attainment, advocate Mr Susai Raj established CECOWOR in 1992 to support marginalised people in Gingee to improve their lives. This was led by a conviction that you can only have a deep understanding of the problems faced by local people if you from the very affected communities yourself.
Advocate Mr.Susai Raj who is the Founder of CECOWOR holds; M.Com (Master of commerce) from Loyola College, Chennai, LL.M. (Master of Laws), Diploma in Rural development. He also attended; Courses on NGO Management at Denmark, Peace keeping and peace building at Austria, and a course on culture creativity coexistence at Denmark.
He has been an active member of AICUF (All Indian Catholic University Federation) which is affiliated to PAX ROMANA-International Movement of catholic students. “We were born in an unjust society and we are determined not to leave it as we have found it” was the declaration of AICUF. In further hence to the declaration he has committed himself for the transforming lives of the dehumanized low caste community that he hails from.
He served as Youth convener of Dalit (low caste) Christian Liberation Movement, a state level movement that fights to assert their rights both in the church and from the Government. From the experiences of organizing and mobilizing youth, and the struggles he has undergone including prison life, he was further strengthened to stick to the goal of changing an unjust society. He also worked as participatory action Research trainer at a grassroots organization called NEL (New Education for Liberation) and worked as project consultant for Indian Social Institute, Delhi, Conducting pre funding study and evaluation of projects by NGOs in Tamil Nadu
With the ignited commitments and experiences he and the team members who were the first graduates from the weaker sections have dedicated to work for the change in the life of the marginalized people. So the organization CECOWOR came in to existence. They have deep understanding of the problems faced by the people because they themselves are from the very affected communities.
In 1990 the team members made an assessment of the deep rooted problems of the dehumanised communities, volunteering to give their time by getting involved in non-formal education and dropout education in the surrounding five villages. This was in the year the Tamil Nadu government announced a scheme to give the bride Rs.8000 during the marriage provided that they have completed 8th standard schooling. The voluntary members of CECOWOR found out that there are 15 to 20 girls at the marriageable age in three of the surrounding villages, but no one was eligible to get the marriage benefit from the government as they did not complete 8 years of school.
So the volunteers organised these girls and helped give them evening private education and prepared them to directly appear for 10th standard government exams. In 1994 about 120 girls appeared for the exams. Even though only about 30% of them passed in the exams, all of them got 10 standard fail certificates which made all the girls qualify to get the marriage assistance as they are above 8th standard.
In order to make a systematic approach to the problems, it became clear that a formal organization was needed. So CECOWOR legally came in to existence on 24th August 1992.
Since then, with its limited resources and voluntary works, CECOWOR has been making efforts for the liberation and development of marginalized people like women, children, dalits (low caste) and other rural poor.
In the continued search to make full peoples participation, CECOWOR over the years has learned many approaches, and has developed its capacity to deliver development service more effectively and efficiently than before. People concerned have been the main actors of the programme and their knowledge and their participation have been the key elements our projects. These led them toward having better control over their life and enjoy benefit of combined strength and group spirit. Giving basic awareness education, capacity building, community organization combined with some life skills has been the strategy for uplifting peoples lives.
From a cluster of 3 villages, CECOWOR has expanded its horizon to whole of Gingee taluk helping out thousands of women, children and youth in the 181 village panchayats.