Seva Nilayam's clinic in the 1970s
Seva Nilayam’s clinic in the 1970s


The origins of Village Service Trust extend back to the 1970s. Inspired by the example of Dora Scarlett, volunteers from the UK and India formed organisations to support the work of her rural clinic, Seva Nilayam.

Seva Nilayam’s leprosy centre was relaunched as Arogya Agam by John Dalton, Vasandham was started as an outpost of Seva Nilayam by Gunasekaran, and Village Service Trust was formed in the UK to help fund this work.

Arogya Agam rapidly achieved a dramatic reduction in cases of leprosy in Theni District, and then turned to wider community health issues, particularly TB control and mother and child care.

India’s economic liberalisation in the early 1990s brought many changes to the rural communities of Theni District, not least an interest in micro-credit and micro-enterprise.  Arogya Agam, Vasandham and Seva Nilayam helped build the women’s self-help group movement in Theni District with support from VST.

At the same time, Arogya Agam pioneered HIV education in the district with funding from the European Union, and ran a community care centre for people affected by HIV, TB and leprosy.

In recent years other organisations in Theni district joined our network, running programmes that include healthcare, micro-enterprise, Dalit rights, violence against women, children’s rights, and the functioning of local government.

Our current focus is on working with community organisations of poor women, Dalits, indigenous people, HIV positive people, transgendered and sex workers.