©Namaste-Wings to Fly America

About the Kani:

To Indians living outside of the jungle, the Kani are often referred to as the "Forest Peoples." These "Forest Peoples" live in a secluded jungle region of the Western Ghats mountain region along the border between the Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Those living in the jungle have no electricity or plumbing and often build their homes high in the trees in order to remain safe from the wild elephants, dogs, and snakes that make living on the ground hazardous. Members of the Kani subsist largely on materials foraged from the jungle. When it is not monsoon season, men often walk for many kilometers, sometimes over multiple days, to reach nearby villages and sell plants that are used in ayurvedic medicical practices. However, because the jungle is designated by the Indian government as a national forest and the animals in the jungle are so unaccommodating, widespread agriculture is not legal or feasible.

Above: A Kani woman, believed to be in her eighties, skins seeds next to a basket she made. Many Kani are suspicious of outsiders, particularly westerners, who have previously often been Christian misisonaries who attempted to convert the Kani.

Below: During an English lesson by a Namaste America volunteer, children at one of Namaste's family houses play "Simon Says" and are instructed to "Make a mean face."

Above: Sundays are typically the only leisure day of the week in India. In this video, a group of teenage boys attempt to open coconuts to thank Namaste America's representative.