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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SEDS: Walking the path, Roger Griffiths lit.

Roger Griffiths had a passion for cars. He maintained his antique cars beautifully and participated in an annual drive along the coast of Australia. As his battle with Parkinson's disease weakened him, he asked a friend to drive one of his cars so that he could still participate.

Roger worked through Rotary and many other social development groups in his local community of Frankston. As an Honorary Director with Action Aid Australia, Roger was also connected with SEDS, visiting the SEDS campus twice, in 2003 and in 2005. Action Aid still sponsors several children at the SEDS school. His skills at driving local development activities ranged from organizing plays for fund raising, to visiting underprivileged children. With the money collected in his memory, SEDS launched the Roger Griffiths Driving School in 2009. The driving school aims to teach unemployed village boys how to drive a vehicle, expanding their employment opportunities in the transport sector.

A 10th grade certificate is the minimum requirement to join the school. The students attend daily practical and theory classes, learn basic vehicle maintenance and simple repairs. They learn traffic rules in addition to learning about parts of a motor vehicle. After 45 days, they are eligible to take a driving test at Hindupur, an hour's journey away from Penukonda.   

Mr. Griffiths passed away in 2008. His name and legacy live on here at SEDS.

[The article originally written by Amit Manikoth, for SEDS's 30 years celebration. This is simply a reproduction.]