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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Disha Kathuria: SEDS from the eye of a volunteer (The day volunteers from Australia arrived)

S.E.D.S. has been welcoming volunteers for many years. They come from all over the world and add much to S.E.D.S. ever growing table. And they have plenty to accomplish here. Like help the students of Anand Vidyalayam, contribute towards various on going projects, assist in the office etc. It makes us happy to say that we’ve made a few friends from the other side of the world and have found out that we all are more similar than not. From one person to another, there aren’t many differences and a genuine smile always gets rewarded. This week, S.E.D.S. welcomed two absolutely lovely ladies from Australia, Claire and Natalie (both from the University of Sunshine Coast). Jasper and I along with Manil and few more prepared their rooms, painted their chairs and their walls with a satisfaction that’s hard to describe.

While we were at it, we stumbled upon some great pieces of art done probably by one of the old volunteers. Oh, what sheer delight that was! But that wasn’t all, we also found a brilliant boat parked there in all its vintage glory that belongs to Rajen. With the white wall as canvas, Jasper and Rashna took to painting sweet little things to welcome the volunteers.

Not too long after, Natalie (L) and Claire (R) arrived. And gladly agreed to pose for us. We absolutely look forward to their company and hope we all can give our best to S.E.D.S. Natalie will be sharing her experience at S.E.D.S. in her blog. Once we have the content we would share it with all of you right here.

Photo Courtesy: Disha Kathuria