After discussing the perils of alcoholism and smoking, Matendla students went home and talked with their parents– 40 percent who subsequently changed their habits.
That’s just one example of how RDF’s emphasis on social awareness is improving lives of the children and their communities. RDF believes that education isn’t limited to the classroom walls. Instead, it arms children with knowledge and a mission to better their world.
At Kalleda, students debate issues at school-wide assemblies, picking topics relevant to their lives like dowry, child marriages and pollution. Students also attended local sarpanch (village elders) level meetings to discuss better roads and clean water.
Kalleda school holds muchata — an open house where students debate issues like inter-faith marriage and why the lambadi tradition is important. After learning about the harmful effects of tobacco, students enlisted their fathers to stop using beedis and pan.
More recently, Redlawada school students have spread awareness on the ills of using plastic bags on the environment, creating toxic waste and encouraging villagers to use paper bags. They even made several paper bags from recycled paper and distributed them around shops in neighbouring villages!
Rollakal School has organized campaigns on HIV/AIDS awareness and doing ‘green drives’ in their school and community by planting trees.
Matendla school students and staff demonstrated the power of democracy and empowerment, by speaking to villagers about the right to vote and the need to vote to elect the right representative in the recently held Gram Panchayat elections. Their efforts resulted in a 97.5% poll rate in Matendla village for the first time ever!
Such real-life campaigns highlight RDF’s values: education and engagement leading to empowerment.
Health and Sanitation Programs
The variety and beauty of India’s many seasons also bring with it many diseases. The Indian Monsoons typically bring with it several health concerns, with people falling sick due to malaria, typhoid and other viral diseases. The National Service Scheme (NSS) students enrolled in the Junior College went on a door to door awareness campaign to educate the locals on the perils of monsoon induced diseases. Each student volunteer adopted 2 streets to comprehensively cover Kalleda and some surrounding villages, to educate people about such diseases, their prevention, sanitation and remedies. Their efforts were lauded by the village Secretary and the Sarpanch and will be continued on an annual basis.
Such programs instills a sense of responsibility in students, who see themselves as part of the larger community and committing to its welfare and well being voluntarily.