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 (Volunteers @ work)

It's been almost 3 weeks since we introduced you to our two volunteers from Australia. Natalie and Claire are not new to social work. Back in Australia they have been extending their love and care as social workers for a while now. The proof of it is evident when one watches them teach the little ones of Anand Vidyalayam, SEDS school. It warmed the proverbial cockles of my heart, when I watched them in action. Here's a glimpse.

The kids were learning to sing - itsy bitsy spider, a nursery rhyme. The teachers handed over sheets to the students who traced the rhyme before proceeding to sing it along with them.

It was refreshing to see teachers who do not make the blackboard their home. Claire and Natalie made it a point to be among their students. Walking, talking, smiling, clapping if not always mutually uderstanding, the teachers and the students sure seemed making that moment their own.

'Goodmorning Missy', hollered this little one who couldn't afford to miss getting clicked.

Natalie looked over one half of the kids, while Claire took over the other. Here Natalie is helping the students work on their pronunciation. The children listened and learnt in earnest. 

Claire making sure her students get it right, now and forever. Indeed a day when learning brought down walls and tresspassed borders. A prototype of the world as it's meant to be. 

Photo Courtesy: Disha Kathuria