Friends of LAFTI Foundation

Supporting the work of Land for Tillers' Freedom (LAFTI)

Your Subtitle text
News and Events


After spending an amazing month working with Iraqui refugees through the Collateral Repair Project in Jordan (, American University student, Meera Shanti, joined Krishnammal and the staff of LAFTI for a six week internship in India.  Follow her through LAFTI's many villages and read her observations at


With a grant from Seattle-based People for Progress in India (PPI), Del and Suzanne Livingston of Spanaway, Washington journeyed to LAFTI in July to instruct LAFTI workers on building biosand water filters.  Del and Sue have previously worked with Quaker groups in Kenya to make use of this life-saving technology.

First developed by David Manz at the University of Calgary, biosand water filters are an inexpensive household-based technology that can remove up to 99% of bacterial and viral contaminants from water. Waterborne illnesses are the second leading cause of childhood mortality in India, and dysentery and other related conditions are common in the villages of Tamil Nadu, especially among Dalits who often live some distance from village wells or other sanitary water sources. Fuel for boiling water is increasingly scarce.

While Suzanne instructed those involved in the project on health and sanitation, Del worked with an area welder to build five molds, into which cement is poured. Theoretically, up to five filters can be produced per day. Filters are now installed at LAFTI headquarters in Kuthur, and at the site for brick making for the new houses to be built. As villagers come to work on the housing projects, they will also be introduced to the biosand water filters, which, together with bathrooms, are now incorporated into the design of the new houses.

Biosand water filters have also been installed in schools and clinics, and in the two LAFTI children’s hostels in Valivalam, and at the Gandhigram Workers Home. Filters were also given to the Health and Sanitation Department at Gandhigram Rural University, which is testing them for use in their village outreach program. People are now coming for training in the technology from both inside and outside Tamil Nadu.

On Diwali, all LAFTI workers will be given biosand water filters for their homes. Since they live in many different villages in Thiruvarur and Nagai Districts, it is expected that this will help introduce the biosand water filters to a larger public.


In February 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, traveled to India to study Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence.   Gandhi's philosophy of peaceful resistance had a lasting impact on how Dr. King shaped the U.S. civil rights movement.   He visited several freedom fighters, including LAFTI's founders, Krishnammal and S. Jagannathan.

Fifty years later, Martin Luther King III retraced his parent's footsteps through India.  He met Krishnammal, and she shared stories about her historical visit with Dr. King.


Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi congratulated Krishnammal Jagannathan for winning the prestigious Right Livelihood Award, known as the "Alternative Nobel."


Krishnammal Jagannathan and LAFTI were honored with two prestigious international humanitarian awards.   The Opus Prize was presented at Seattle University on November 18, 2008 and the Right Livelihood Award was presented in Sweden on December 8, 2008 in a ceremony at the Swedish Parliament.

The Right Livelihood Award was be presented to Krishnammal and her husband, S. Jagannathan, and their organization Land for the Tillers' Freedom (LAFTI) "for two long lifetimes of work dedicated to realizing in practice the Gandhian vision of social justice and sustainable human development, for which they have been referred to as 'India's soul'.  Since Jagannathan is no longer able to travel, Krishnammal represented both of them at the Award ceremony.  Krishnammal's daughter, Sathya Jagannathan, and David Albert, Friends of LAFTI Foundation Board member, were in attendance.  David had nominated the Jagannathans for the Right Livelihood Award.

Opus Prize Award

Currently in its sixth year, the Opus Prize is a $1 million faith-based humanitarian award and two $100,000 awards given annually to recognize unsung heroes of any faith tradition, anywhere in the world, solving today’s most persistent social problems. It is the world’s largest faith-based, humanitarian award for social innovation. Opus Prize winners combine an entrepreneurial spirit with an abiding faith to combat seemingly intractable global issues like poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease, and injustice. Opus Prize winners demonstrate that change is possible, empowering and inspiring all of us. The Opus Prize Foundation selects universities as partners to organize and execute the Opus Prize selection process and award ceremony. Through these partnerships, students are challenged to think globally and inspired to lives of service. Seattle University hosted and administered the 2008 Opus Prize honoring Krishnammal and two other humanitarian leaders from Burundi and Nicaragua. All three are unsung heroes who address problems with a commitment to service and social entrepreneurship. Visit the Opus Prize Foundation website to learn more about the history of the Opus Prize. The Seattle University website contains articles and videos about Krishnammal and the two other recipients.

Opus Prize Award recipients for 2008:
Michael Woodard, Maggie Barankitse (Grand Prize winner), and Krishnammal Jagannathan

The Right Livelihood Award

According to their website, "The Right Livelihood Award was established in 1980 to honor and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today. 

"It has become widely known as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize' and there are now 128 Laureates from 56 countries.

"Presented annually in Stockholm at a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament, the Right Livelihood Award is usually shared by four recipients.  One of them may receive an Honorary Award, given to a person or group whose work the Jury wishes to recognize but who is not primarily in need of monetary support. The others share the prize money of 2,000,000 Swedish kronor (approximately USD 310,000). The prize money is for ongoing successful work, never for personaRecipients of 2008 Right Livelihood Award:l use.

"The Right Livelihood Award is widely recognized as the world's premier award for personal courage and social transformation. Besides the financial support, it enables its recipients to reach out to an international audience that otherwise might not have heard of them."

Recipients of 2008 Right Livelihood Award:
Asha Hagi (Somalia)
Amy Goodman (USA)
Krishnammal Jagannathan (India)
Monika Hauser (Germany)


Krishnammal and K. Vengopu, LAFTI manager, visited friends and supporters around the U.S. during the month prior to the Opus Prize ceremonies.  Events were scheduled in Northampton (MA), Philadelphia (PA), Washington DC, Raleigh (NC), Greenville (SC), San Diego and San Francisco (CA), and Olympia / Seattle (WA).  Krishnammal delighted in sharing "greater moments in my life" , along with her many stories.

Website Builder