SEDS, the Social Education and Development Society, was founded in 1980 by Rajen Joshua and Manil Jayasena as a grassroots development NGO, motivated by the desire to help the poorest of the poor in the drought-prone area of Anantapur District in Andhra Pradesh. In the early days, the main focus of the work was on community development by way of non-formal education and small loans to skilled target communities like cobblers, basket weavers, blanket weavers and others.

As Anantapur is the second most drought prone area in India and much of its natural resources are depleted, it soon became clear that environmental problems would have to be tackled first, if peoples’ livelihoods were to be made sustainable. Starting in 10 villages near the small town of Penukonda a scheme of pioneering work was developed which aimed to empower local communities and improve their environment. Initially small nurseries were started for homestead plantations and planting of avenue trees along village roads. Re-a-forestation and more sustainable agricultural practices were introduced. From 1990, SEDS started using a more participatory approach, through the formation of Community Based Organizations. Involving the communities more in the effort made them actual stakeholders in the development process of the region. Throughout the years the scope and area of the work increased and the fruits of the sustained efforts became visible in the greener environment and the enthusiasm of the communities.

Today, SEDS is working through an integrated rural development approach with an emphasis on women’s empowerment, watersheds, re-a-forestation and natural resource management. This is within five Mandals in the southern part of Anantapur District, in south western Andhra Pradesh namely, Penukonda, Roddam, Gorantla, Somandepalli and Chilamathur. In these 5 mandals SEDS currently supports 125 villages, being some 12000 women and their families, 980 Self Help Groups (SHGs), 120 Village Organisations (VOs) & 5 Mandal Samakyas (MMSs) .

Through its sustained efforts SEDS has made a significant impact on the lives of the people in the area and the local environment. The SEDS slogan “Towards a greener tomorrow” has become a reality.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Women’s Day 2010 – Celebrating the Identity of Women

On Saturday the 20th of March SEDS celebrated Women’s day. The event took place in Penukonda, Narayanamma Colony. The SEDS staff had arrived early in the morning to prepare the last things as setting up the stalls and putting up the decorations. All the women had organised their means of transportation by themselves. Some came on hired trucks, some by hired tractors and others by taxi or rickshaw.

At 10:00 am everything was ready to welcome our guests, some 7000 women from the five Mandals. At the gate they all were registered before entrance. Once they entered the ground they could wander around the different stalls representing the SEDS projects, NRM / CDM, Sustainable Agriculture, Production Centre, Health, School and MFC / VTC Promotions.
At eleven O’clock things got under way as CEO Mrs. Manil J. Joshua lit the oil lamp. This year the theme was: Celebrating the “Identity of Women”. Women in rural India still lack their own individuality. The social fabric of the society still intertwines them to their husbands and gives them a subservient role in the community. SEDS has already taken many steps to turn this archaic thinking around by focussing their programmes on women. Our aim is to build a strong base for women groups so that they can sustain themselves. We update their knowledge on the available welfare schemes; we motivate them to understand and make use of the women rights; we promote girl child education; we try to strengthen local bodies with women participation; we look to improve women leadership. All of this culminated today in the celebration of the identity of a woman.
The program of the celebration was quite diversified, it contained invigorating speeches on women’s hardships and responsibilities but also some light-hearted cultural programs, one brilliantly preformed by our Hostel children. But central was the handing over of the Unique Identity Cards (UID) SEDS had made. These cards are still a pilot project of SEDS but we hope to stimulate a country wide evolution of the government’s approach to tackle this problem of ID cards for all.
These ID cards will be a ticket to a wide range of possibilities for the women. Carrying information as their name, picture and group, it will open doors of government and other places. Take banks for example. As the acquirement of loans for Self Help Groups (SHGs) has now become a trademark in the larger development plans of the Indian government, there is always the inconvenience that the whole group has to show up to legitimate themselves. Now, with the ID card, it will be possible for a woman to go alone to the bank and request a loan. Also members will gain speedy access to various government schemes such as pension, Indiramma housing or NREGS.
Also the raise in self-esteem that this little plastic card will bring to its holder is a fact that should not go unnoticed. It will raise the awareness of her own identity and it will identify her as an individual within her family and her community. Also she will feel empowered as the ID card stands as a true symbol of being part of something bigger; it gives her a feeling of security, trust and partnership.
“Serving our rural population and under developed community with integrated sustainable development programmes and tracking effectiveness has been our key focus over the last 30 plus years. Today, SEDS still works through an integrated rural development approach with a special emphasis on women’s empowerment. UIDs will go a long way in helping my women friends in establishing their identity. Today it is 10,000 cards; tomorrow SEDS vision is to take this process of a UID card to all members of SHGs which are 5,00,000 members in Anantapur District alone. This is a pilot for a larger vision and mission,” said, Manil Jayasena Joshua, CEO, SEDS.

A number of ID cards were handed out while the rest will be distributed in the villages. The women were very eager to show off their ID cards. A lot of press was present on the site, covering the event and interviewing people from all segments. We were covered in numerous newspapers. The day ended with all the women receiving lunch on behalf of SEDS. In total 7500 meals were served. Never in the history of Penukonda such a gathering had taken place.




Sunday, March 21, 2010


The government of A.P. ask every school in the state to organize a yearly sports day. Our school held it on friday the 5th of March, a day that, of course, all children of Ananda Vidyalayam, were looking forward to. The event was organized by the principal, the teachers and volunteers.
All activities started after the daily pledge at 8:30. Groups were formed according to age and class, and taken under the responsibility of the class teachers. For sure, it announced to be a hot day; what else to expect in the south of India... Around the sports court, buckets filled with water were provided, so all participants could refresh regularly. The physical activities were held in the morning till lunchtime, the afternoon was reserved for games in the shade of the classrooms, the dining hall and the games room.

All kind of disciplines were possible, such as: running, jumping, frisbee, water and ball games and in the afternoon, a drawing contest, crosswords, pictionary...etc. A strict rotation system and timing made it possible for all the groups to complete the whole cycle.

All personal results were noted down by the alert teachers, because... at the end of the day, there were prizes to win! Prizes based upon the personal results, team spirit and fair play. At last, as participation, motivation and enjoyment are the most important recipes for such a day, rather than competition, we had a prize for everyone!
The day ended in a happy mood, a healthy tiredness and the relaxing idea that the day after was a... day-off!

Friday, March 19, 2010

SEDS & trees

SEDS & trees
As you all know SEDS and trees are synonyms. Here is a short account on the planting of Guava trees in the SEDS area.
In September 2006, SEDS donated Guava Trees to our SHG Women in R.Maruvapalli in Roddam Mandal. Guavas are often marketed as “super fruits” being rich in vitamins A and C with seeds that are rich in omega-3, omega-6, polyunsaturated fatty acids and dietary fiber. A single Apple Guava fruit, the plants we gave, contains over four times the amount of vitamin C as a single orange.
One of the women is Rathnamma who is a farmer and mother of two boys. Rathnamma and her family are well in touch with the different projects of SEDS. Her husband is very interested in joining our Farmers Field School which is conducted by our Sustainable Agriculture Team. The older son completed a training course on domestic wiring at our Vocational Training Center and he is now working on his own and earning close to Rs 1,500/- a month. The younger boy is still studying.Rathnamma got 48 plants for an one acre plot. Now after 4 years, the trees are bearing much more than expected. This harvest season they generated a monthly income between Rs. 4, 000 and 5,000. Rathnamma plucks the fruits then and sells them in the town. With this extra income she is able to support her younger son in school and save some money at the same time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tailoring centres

In the last couple of months SEDS has been facilitating the opening of tailoring centres in rural villages. 7 centres have been opened in the following villages Palasamudram, Puttagundlapalli, Mallapalli, Chakarlapalli, Nagullur, Munimadugu and Dodagatta. These centres were set up under the initiative of the Village Organisations. Although SEDS has an excellent training and production centre on campus, Lilani, there was the desire of the communities to open centres in their neighbourhoods. This would give the girls and women of the villages the opportunity to learn a skill without the burden of a long bus ride and the additional transport costs. In order to help some with their start-up Lilani has donated 10 sewing machines.

Each centre sustains itself by the income that is generated by the fees of the students. A student will pay a Rs. 100 a month. The teacher will get a Rs. 1000 and about Rs. 250 will go to the rent of the building. Every day there will be two batches of students. This is in order to have smaller groups so that the teacher can meaningfully assist the girls. The first batch is from ten till one O’clock, the second from two till five. The girls must bring in their own cloth and thread. They will learn how to cut and stitch sari blouses, skirts, petty coats, and dresses.

SEDS’ and Lilani’s role in these centres is a guiding role. We train them in maintaining their books and finances in order, we help them in getting started up or we also provide some training. Assistance and facilitation are the keywords here.

Next to this the Lilani is providing a real income to the women of these centres in the form of piecework. One of the staff of the centre will spend a day at a rural tailoring centre giving training to the people there. He will teach them to do some specific embroidery and depending on their capabilities they will receive orders for pouches, coin purses, and cell phone bags, cushion covers, etc... Lilani will pay them per piece. The finishing touches for the piecework will be done by Lilani which will also take care of the sale of the products.

But the women are also looking for ways to sustain themselves. One tailoring centre wants to buy three extra sewing machines as they plan to make sari blouses and bags. The women will be producing them for a cheap price so they can quickly raise the money. The products will be sold on the local markets.

In this way we hope to sustain these rural tailoring centres as they provide women with a skill, an extra income and a social life.