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Exploring the Heart of Empowerment: Fieldwork at Totem Resource Centre in Wayanad



Introduction In the picturesque landscapes of Chennalode, Wayanad, lies a transformative NGO known as Totem Resource Centre. With a profound mission to amplify the voices of the unheard, address concerns of minority and indigenous groups, and protect their culture and dignity, Totem is a guiding light for social change. This blog delves into the enriching experience of fieldwork at Totem, exploring the advantages, learning opportunities, and skills gained while working in solidarity with the tribal communities of Wayanad.

Empowering the Marginalized Totem Resource Centre's primary mission is to stand in solidarity with the poor and excluded, working to eradicate poverty, patriarchy, and injustice prevailing in society. By providing socio-culturally specific and replicable models, Totem strives to uplift the lives of the minority and indigenous groups in Wayanad. The organization strongly advocates for the rights of these communities, defending their lives, lands, and futures, aiming to secure equal opportunities and rights that contemporary societies enjoy.

Fieldwork in Wayanad: Exploring the Tribal Communities Wayanad is adorned with several tribal communities, such as Sultan Bathery, Mananthavady, Valad, and Periya, and the surrounding areas. Engaging in fieldwork at Totem allows individuals to immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage and unique lifestyles of these tribes. It offers a rare opportunity to understand the challenges faced by these communities and witness their resilience in the face of adversity.

Advantages of Fieldwork

  1. Real-world Learning: Fieldwork provides hands-on experience and invaluable insights into the realities of the tribal communities. It bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

  2. Cultural Exchange: Interacting with indigenous groups fosters cross-cultural understanding, encouraging appreciation and respect for diverse traditions.

  3. Personal Growth: Fieldwork challenges individuals to step out of their comfort zones, fostering personal growth, and enhancing adaptability.

  4. Networking and Collaboration: Fieldwork often involves collaborating with various stakeholders, fostering networking opportunities that can be beneficial for future endeavours.


Gaining Essential Skills Fieldwork at Totem Resource Centre equips participants with a wide range of skills that are crucial for professional and personal development:

  1. Empathy and Sensitivity: Working closely with marginalized communities enhances empathy and sensitivity towards their struggles and aspirations.

  2. Communication and Collaboration: Fieldwork necessitates effective communication and collaboration with community members and fellow team members.

  3. Problem-solving: Addressing the challenges faced by tribal communities requires innovative and practical problem-solving skills.

  4. Cultural Competency: Engaging with diverse cultural backgrounds enhances cultural competency, a valuable skill in today's globalized world.


Understanding the Fieldwork Process Fieldwork at Totem begins with an orientation to familiarize participants with the organization's goals, projects, and methodologies. Participants work closely with experienced mentors and coordinators who guide them through the fieldwork process. They actively engage in community interactions, data collection, and participation in community events.

Requirements and Preparations To embark on a fulfilling fieldwork journey at Totem, participants should demonstrate a genuine commitment to social change and empowerment. Open-mindedness, respect for diverse cultures, and a willingness to learn are essential qualities. Proper research and understanding of the local culture and traditions help in forming meaningful connections with the tribal communities.

Experiencing the Field Fieldwork at Totem is an enriching and transformative experience. Living and working closely with the tribal communities allows individuals to gain profound insights into their daily lives, challenges, and aspirations. Participants witness the positive impact of Totem's interventions and witness the significance of community-led development.

The Motivation for Fieldwork The motivation to undertake fieldwork at Totem stems from the desire to make a meaningful contribution to society. The opportunity to bring about positive change, advocate for social justice, and work towards creating a world free from poverty, patriarchy, and injustice serves as a driving force for participants.

Internship Opportunities at Totem Totem Resource Centre also offers internship opportunities for individuals looking to make a difference. The internships provide structured learning and practical experience in the field of community empowerment, social advocacy, and sustainable development.

Conclusion Fieldwork at Totem Resource Centre in Wayanad offers a unique chance to engage with the tribal communities of the region, amplify their voices, and work towards inclusive development. It is a journey of personal growth, cultural exchange, and social impact, where participants acquire essential skills and experiences that shape them into empathetic and socially conscious individuals. Totem's vision of a world where everyone is respected and lives with dignity resonates with the core values of fieldwork, making it a fulfilling and rewarding endeavor for all those who choose to partake in this transformative journey.

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