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 (Anand Vidyalayam)

There are many things that make me laugh. Few that make me smile. Fewer still that do both. Keeping up with the children of Anand Vidyalayam is one of them.

It's a school run by SEDS in their premises for the local bundles of joy. In sync with SEDS's aim - towards a greener tomorrow, the students wear green and look every bit the wonderful creation they are. Here's a glimpse of the school and the surrounding area. So let's get ready! It's time to go to school.

That's the school building. Red and majestic, it has stood tall for the last 14 years filling hearts young and old with a sense of pride and nostalgia. 

Lovely isn't it? What you saw is an extension of the school. A lovely tree-lined pathway, a once hale 'n' hearty fountain most adored by the kids, a lunchtime space with uninterrupted view of the surrounding greens. Sadly, that's all I had the time to capture before my camera gave way to my eyes.

Who knew tires could be put such magnificent use? And this one of many pomegranate fruit lay hanging waiting to be plucked. I did wonder when was the last time I saw this little peace of beauty right in its element. 

To walk this path every day of your amateur life must be such a blessing. I don't think I go too far when I say, sometimes I envy those students. The little they have is all we need. 

Kids are often seen fishing in this pond. Many a fish have been caught by many a gentle hands. The pond is a part of the farm many hold very, very close to their heart.  

Anand Vidyalayam is a school that's truly striving to make a difference. Yet it's future is always dangling by a thread. Paucity of funds and teachers often prove to be a roadblock. Therefore we, the people of SEDS alongwith the children of Anand Vidyalayam appeal to you to help us continue our effort to teach and learn. 

Hoping that most of you must seen our post where we tried to raise funds for Madhan's laptop, an ex student of AV, we'd like to tell you that people have come forward and offered help, but our job is far from over. And therefore we request you, dear reader, to help us raise the required sum of 35,000. It will be really helpful. And every aid will be rewarded with a smiling face.

Photo Courtesy: Disha Kathuria