India lives in its villages but have we done enough to build and safeguard our villages? Indian way of life revolved around self-sustainability. However, today’s reality is that life in a remote village with no access to basic amenities like water, road, schools and medical care and infrastructure is tough. There are many schemes run by the government to uplift village which are not utilized properly due to lack of information. Vamsi, founder of Aasara Foundation is making sure his village is using all the government schemes properly and get benefited.
Punnavalli is a small village in Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh. Like many villages, Punnavalli was plagued with many problems. Today, the fate of the village has changed completely. Thanks to Vamsi Vasi Reddy, who is working tirelessly for the last 10 years to bring change in this village. He was born in Punnavalli but not raised there as his parents sent him to his maternal grandmother’s village so that he could have better access to education and healthcare. He went onto to become a network administrator with a handsome salary in a computer firm.
A visit to his ancestral village changed the course of his career and way of life. He says “ I saw that nothing had changed in my village. It’s like people from my village were living in the stone age where no development touched them but the rest of the country, especially the cities, were progressing at a breakneck speed”. He decided then that he will not sit quiet about it and started his journey. He resigned from his job as a network administrator and returned to his village. A decade later he is a true unspoken hero working towards removing rural distress in his village.
Vamsi formed an organisation called “Aasara Foundation” which means ‘Help’. True to the name, the organisation is working towards the betterment of the village. Aasara foundation was started in 2007 and registered in 2010. It is in the process of getting 80G certification in a matter of days. Aasara foundation has adopted the Punnavalli village in Chandralapadu mandal in Krishna district and has been working for the upliftment of the village.
Vamsi the founder of Aasara foundation has carried out various welfare activities. Some of the most challenging ones according to him have been the plantation drive and the toilet construction activities. Only 50% of the homes in the village had toilets. Now the village is open defecation free. Aasara Foundation with the help of the government scheme built toilets in all the houses.
The government requires the toilet to be constructed and the bills to be submitted before they can release funds for the same. Govt. releases Rs 15,000/- for the construction of one toilet. However, due to the structural strength for the construction in Punnavalli village, an extra beam was required to be laid. This cost Rs 2000-2500/- extra per toilet. 100 such toilets were constructed in Punnavalli village. Mr Vamsi had to borrow about Rs. 2,60,000/- from money lenders on 20% compound interest. He is yet to receive money from the govt for 10 toilets due to procedural delays.
పున్నవల్లి గ్రామంలో ఎంతో వ్యయప్రయాసలకు ఓర్చి చేపట్టిన Toilets నిర్మాణం పూర్తి అయింది. NREGS, SBM సహకారంతో మొత్తం 90…
Initially, when Vamsi approached the villagers they were sceptical, they automatically assumed that Vamsi had an ulterior motive in his desire to help them. It took them several months, constant persuasion and hard work to convince him of his intentions. Mr Vamsi is going ahead alone in this journey with somewhat constant family support. It is his will that has helped him in his and his organisation’s journey in this decade.
Aasara foundation has no outside donors and it has been receiving help from Mr Vamsi and his friends from time to time. Since the funds are limited, Aasara has not done any major PR or spread awareness about its work. Mr Vamsi believed that he should approach any other donors only after uplifting the village. He believes that in future he will able to replicate the model in several other villages with much shorter turn cycle.
Education: Aasara foundation made a foray in the village initially with education.
- This year they are supporting 9 students’ higher education expenses.
- In total they have supported 67 students’ expenses for various courses like inter, TTC, diploma, B.Tech, MBA, MCA, B. Pharmacy, CA and IIT)
- Of the students, Sai secured all India rank in CA and he giving back by supporting 2 students education.
- In addition, to motivate students sports have been conducted, prizes have been distributed and normal assistance with stationary and books has also been provided. Mini library has also been set up.
- With this assistance, some students have become All India rankers and University rankers. It has also set up a vocational unit to teach carpentry to students.
- When the government school in the village did not have regular teachers the foundation recruited paid volunteers for 2 years.
- Now the government school in the village has a digital library, boards, 6 permanent teachers.
Medical: The villagers have had to drive to the nearest town called Nandigama for emergency first aid from registered medical practitioners or RMPs as they are called which is 25 km away. For major health problems, they have had to go to Vijayawada city which is 80km away for help. To help villagers overcome these issues they have been conducting regular health camps every 6 months as well as distributing medicines for BP and Diabetes. They have kept vehicles in the village so that pregnant ladies, as well as any other patients requiring emergency aid, can be assisted in transportation. In addition to all these, it has also set up a diagnostic facility. Through these activities, Aasara has contributed in making Punnavelli village healthy.
Village upliftment through government and villagers help:
- Ration Cards: It took Vamsi 1.5 years to correct the mistakes in the ration card. Today all the ration cards in the village are error-free and the villagers are able to get access to all the schemes which require Ration Card as a proof. Previously due to the mistakes in the ration cards, many beneficiaries were denied many schemes run by the government.
- Tree Plantation: Under MGNREGA the villagers planted 600 trees and 800 plants Aasara’s funds. With Aasara Foundations money all the trees are getting tree guards.
- The foundation motivated the villagers about the importance of rainwater soaking pits. Today the village has 70 of them.
- Helping youth realise their potential in the upliftment of their village by making them a partner in it.
- Helped villagers in carrying out digital transactions.
- Helping farmers to get equipment to pursue modern agriculture.
Mr Vamsi now plans to take up farming and raise his child in this village and work towards upliftment of neighbouring villages as well. He says “I am learning the power of social media and the internet and am going to use it to its fullest potential so that I can make more and more villages self-sustainable.”
For more details visit: https://www.facebook.com/aasarafoundation/
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