The Social Education and Development Society (SEDS) is a
Non-Governmental Organisation that has been actively involved in socially transforming initiatives and rural development for over 30 years near the town of Penukonda in Andhra Pradesh.
Founded in 1980 by Rajen Joshua and Manil Jayasena Joshua, SEDS has pioneered and implemented projects in watershed management, reforestation, clean development mechanism, low carbon farming, rural health, vocational training, village self-help groups, and children's education that have done so much to improve the lives of people in 350 villages across 5 mandals in Anantapur district.
With a focus on making people and projects self-reliant and self-sustaining, SEDS continues to use our three-decade worth of hard-won knowledge to work with local villages, to partner with global organisations and to help volunteers from everywhere realize their hopes for a better tomorrow.
When Rajen Joshua came to Anantpur as a part of a group of young volunteers , it was the second-most drought prone area in the country. The hilltops were barren and it was extremely difficult to grow crops. He decided to stay on and try to change the situation. The local people were extremely sceptical about his ideas for rainwater conservation and reforestation. But Rajen persisted. At first, trenches were dug at the base of hills where it had been observed that rainwater washed down. Gradually, vegetation began to grow around the perimeter of these check dams. With these first literal green shoots, the locals began to believe the intentions of the fledgling SEDS organisation.
Manil Jayasena joined Rajen as his wife and partner in their vision to do more for the land. From environmental re-generation, the focus expanded to conservation and social upliftment. SEDS began to run programmes that would improve the quality of life in the villages around Penukonda. Village self-help groups were established to provide a support network for women and to ensure that they received all benefits due to them under various government schemes. Vocational training was established for women and men, aimed at teaching them skills such as stitching, metal work and carpentry by which they could generate income and find employment. The SEDS school was started to provide quality and subsidised education to the children of the surrounding villages.
The Clean Development Mechanism program is one of the most important in the history of SEDS. The program unites the goals of carbon and pollution reduction, women’s welfare, economic sustainability and renewable energy in a meticulously planned endeavour that is also subject to rigorous methods of verification.
The story of SEDS is a story of identifying needs and responding to them using the latest knowledge, implemented with a local flavour. It is a story of one development program leading to the next, adding more value and raising the bar further. Of small beginnings that lead to widespread good. In the words of Rajen today,
“One follows the other, it happens so beautifully.”
Above - early 80s Below - same checkdam in late 90s
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