Rajam, Andhra Pradesh
GMR Group has been undertaking community service activities in and round Rajam since 1991. In 2005 the activities were scaled up to as many as 60 villages. Initiatives have been started in all the four thrust areas of the Foundation – Education; Health, Hygiene and Sanitation; Empowerment and Livelihoods; and Community Development.
Several educational institutions including the GMR Institute of Technology, SGCSR College, GMR Polytechnic, GMR Varalakshmi Community College, SGCSR College of Education have been started by the Foundation. The Foundation also runs English Medium schools in association with DAV and St.Ann’s schools.
GMRV-CARE Hospital is a 135-bed multi-specialty hospital that has been set up to provide quality health care services to the communities surrounding Rajam at affordable prices.
Besides these institutions, GMRVF also works extensively in the communities. These initiatives include:
31 Bala Badis are being run by the Foundation in the villages around Rajam reaching out to about 764 children. The Bala Badis not only impart joyful learning but also work on inculcating discipline and good habits. A nutritious snack is provided daily to address the severe malnutrition problem prevalent among the disadvantaged children. Picnics and outdoor activities are also organized for the children. The parents are also motivated and involved in their child’s learning. The Bala Badi Instructors are trained in preparing new and innovative Teaching and Learning Material (TLM) at low or no cost.
Foundation is working with 58 Govt. Schools to improve the quality of education of about 2300 students through supporting 60 Vidya Volunteers. The Vidya Volunteers, selected from the same village, are provided with excellent training in curricular and co-curricular activities. Foundation volunteers work closely with the community to ensure that dropouts are enrolled back into the school. Foundation supports innovative and joyful education through provision of Teaching Learning Materials to Government schools, through facilitating teacher training, etc. The Foundation also provides Telugu Medium Work Books for all students from Std. I to IV free of cost for encouraging and ensuring minimum levels of learning.
Children are motivated to take part in talent tests like Ramanujan Maths Talent Test, Spellathon Test (English vocabulary training test), competitions etc. Activity-based Environment Education Programme was initiated in 18 Government Schools benefiting around 1850 students.
Foundation is running 75 tuition centers after school hours benefitting 5295 students. This intervention has resulted in improved academic performance of students and has also helped 39 children to get through the entrance test for AP Residential High Schools, which are known for quality education. These schools provide free lodging and boarding facilities from Std. VI to X.
Foundation conducts Summer Special Classes for the students of Std. X from Government Schools around Rajam. The primary objective behind this is to help students get better understanding of the subject through conceptual learning methods and to improve the pass percentage in Government schools. The results are encouraging as many of the students passed the exams with good marks. This has motivated the school teachers also to offer their support in conducting classes. Refresher classes are conducted during Dussehra Holidays. Several life skills are also imparted to the students during the month long programme in summer.
In addition to working towards the improvement of quality of education, the Foundation also supports bright children from poor financial backgrounds to access quality education in the best of schools through its ‘Gifted Children Scheme’. As on today 177 children receive benefits through this scheme. These children are admitted into the best English Medium Schools in Rajam and their complete educational requirements (fee, books, uniform, transportation etc) are taken over by the Foundation.
The Foundation provides scholarships for meritorious students from poor financial background to pursue higher education. More than 375 students pursuing intermediate and Degree Education receive support under this scheme annually. Interest-free loans are also awarded to those pursuing professional courses such as B. Tech, MCA, CA and Nursing. Part loan is given by the Foundation and the rest from banks. The students who receive educational support are encouraged by the Foundation to provide free tuitions to poor school students under its Vidya Jyothi scheme. Over 300 students are currently working as Vidya Jyothi Volunteers.
To provide a learning environment, guidance for higher education and to help youth to prepare for the higher studies and jobs, Foundation runs Pratibha Library and Counseling Centre at Rajam. Annually about 250-300 students utilize this centre. In the last 4 years more than 115 members of Pratibha secured jobs in various State & Central Government and Private sector jobs.
Health, Hygiene and Sanitation
The main thrust of Foundation’s work in the area of health care is on making people aware of their problems and adopt simple preventive healthcare methods. Towards achieving this, the Foundation conducts awareness camps for communities on a periodic basis.
In addition, several camps are also held to address complaints such as cataract for which free operations are performed in collaboration with 2 hospitals nearby.
To check complaints at a very early age and address, Foundation conducts two cycles of Health check-ups for Bala Badi and Primary School children in a year. Children are provided free medicines. Both general and special check-ups like Dental Camps are conducted. Some children who are identified with serious health problems are sponsored to take treatment at various hospitals and the parents are advised and are supported for availing health schemes of the government.
The children who are identified with chronic cases during the course of health check-ups are referred to good hospitals and their parents are advised to avail treatment under the State Government sponsored health schemes.
HIV/AIDS related awareness programmes are being conducted in Rajam and the surrounding villages on a regular basis as the lack of awareness about this deadly disease is accounting for several silent deaths in the remote villages. A number of AIDS awareness generation sessions as well as comprehensive AIDS awareness weeks are conducted to make the people aware about the disease. The awareness camps reach out to more than 2500 people every year. World AIDS Day and International AIDS Orphans’ Day are observed. Besides this, Foundation supports HIV/AIDS affected children in education by providing books, stationery and uniform.
To reduce open defecation and improve the dignity of the women, Foundation has built and is operating 12 ‘Suvidha’ Public Toilets in and around Rajam. On an average, 3,500 persons per day use these facilities.
Empowerment and Livelihoods
Unemployment among the youth is another reason for the backwardness and poverty of this area. Hence Foundation at Rajam has set up and is running 3 vocational training institutes - Nagavali Institute of Rural Entrepreneurship Development ((NIRED- a joint venture with Andhra Bank) at Rajam, Jarjangi Institute of Rural Entrepreneurship Development (JIRED, at Jarjangi), and Girijana Institute of Rural Entrepreneurship Development (GIRED) for the tribal population of the District (operating with the help of ITDA, Seetampeta) with a view to empower unemployed rural youth through Skill Training and Entrepreneurship Development Programmes. These Institutes train unemployed youth in a variety of skills like plumbing, tailoring, two-wheeler repairs, photography and videography, mobile phone repairing, 6-wheeler repairs, house wiring. Emphasis is laid on developing their entrepreneurial spirit by strengthening confidence and motivation levels, improving communication skills etc. The Foundation goes beyond training by facilitating bank loans for those who want to set up micro-enterprises, and also network with various industries/enterprises/potential employers for placements. The Foundation extends handholding support to trainees at least for a period of 2 years post training to ensure that they are able to build on their training. During the last 8 years more than 5000 youth have been trained in these Institutes out of whom more than 85% have been successfully settled.
Foundation is running about 21 village libraries in its intervention area to encourage the reading habit among the school going children and youth. These village libraries are well utilized by as many as 500 persons per day, on an average. To increase their interest, the Foundation conducts reading and recitation competitions and Quiz contests among the users.
Foundation celebrates National and International Days of importance like Independence Day, Teacher’s Day, Children’s Day, Republic Day etc. in all the villages to make the students and adults know the importance of various days and also conduct competitions for the children to promote a healthy competitive spirit among them. Adult women participate very enthusiastically in Women’s Day celebrations and a number of physically challenged adults participate in activities conducted during World Disabled Day. World AIDS Day, World Tobacco Day and the like are also conducted to make the communities aware of various problems that concern them.
The Community Management Empowerment and Development (CMED) programme of the Foundation is aimed at overall development of slum community in Rajam through different developmental activities. The Foundation is working with 9 different slums of Rajam Municipal Panchayat for the holistic development of the slum communities. The communities include Basket weavers, Dhobis, SCs, Toddy tappers and Barbers among others. The activities include running tuition centers for school going children, night schools for adult women, interest-free loans to Common Interest Groups (CIG), awareness on civic amenities and their rights, construction and maintenance of public toilets, etc.