Emmaus International

The Emmaus movement is sorry to announce that Martine Sawarimuthu, a social activist for more than 45 years, has died. He was a founder member of Emmaus Asia, member of the Emmaus International board and Director of Emmaus organisation, VCDS.

150225 Deces Martine Savarimuthu

Profile of Martine Savarimuthu & Kousalya Seethapathy  – India 1980
The son of farm workers and a Dalit, Martine Savarimuthu studied under Father Pierre Ceyrac in Madras (now Chennai) where he trained to become a social worker. He subsequently went on to become a lawyer. Martine devoted himself to the Dalits (previously known as the Untouchables) and to defending their civic and social rights. He founded the Village Community Development Society (VCDS) with them, funded by Swallows from Sweden, and that was how he discovered the Emmaus Movement in 1984, with VCDS becoming a member in 1992.
Kousalya Seethapathy is from a higher caste. Her parents allowed her to go to school, which girls from her village were not allowed to do. She gained the conviction that women’s independence could be achieved through education and work. She married Martine in 1977, defying tradition and her family’s opposition, and was consequently excluded from her caste. In 1980, she and Martine founded VCDS, which fights for the rights of poor women and for education for children. The American Biographical Institute named her Woman of the Year in 2000 for India. Kousalya Seethapathy was elected onto the Emmaus International Executive Committee in 2007.