Youth Empowerment Program

Youth empowerment classes for selected groups of students at Kalleda and Matendla schools had become a regular feature of the extra-curricular education. The program was provided by a non-profit organisation, Bridges to Understanding, based in the US which sent interns to RDF to teach youth empowerment classes.

Students worked with overseas volunteers to create a digital story combining photography and narrative about key social problems of their choice. It was an opportunity for students to acquire technical skills, improve their English language as well as to develop critical thinking and analysis of their own culture and society.
Recent successes include digital stories produced by Kalleda students about the way of life of the Lambadi people, an ancient Indian tribe, many of whom have settled in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Matendla students chose to focus on an innovative literacy project in their village, backed by UNICEF which is teaching local women to read and write.

1. Sridhar ChariUNICEF’s Behaviour Change and Communication programme (BCC) is a critical input in meeting the objectives of the Government of India’s national flagship programmes and the U.N. MDG’s through its focus on influencing, changing and developing human behaviours and social norms. It is also a key strategy in reaching out to include minority groups and ensuring their participation in programs. It has been acknowledged that the BCC is important in meeting India’s key developmental outcomes. RDF Matendla School has been participating in this programme since 2008.

As part of this, 15 mandal coordinators 10 master trainers and 5 BCC cell representatives have capacities to generate qualitative monitoring data and observe, analyze and document outputs and outcomes. Till now 176 such stories have been collected at the district level. Currently a monitoring tool is being developed using social map to track progress at the village level.

5 students from the school – N.Ganesh (9th Class), M.Rajashekar (10th class), M.Rekha (7th class), D.Lavanya (10th class) and N.Rekha (8th class) have undergone UNICEF BCC training in Chinnakodur, Medak district. As BCC volunteers, the have to present a report once a month to the village. The report consists of the strengths of the village and the community, problems identified and recommendations for finding solutions to the problem. A key outcome for the selected Matendla students has been 1) the construction of a well tarred road in the village, with the help of the village sarpanch, 2) Installation of street lights and 3) improvement in adult literacy rates. For such young students, it is a tremendous accomplishment to be agents of change, thus leading to their own empowerment and further development.

Alumni ambassadors have taken on an involved role in the YEMP as well. They aid the volunteers in providing in-depth insight into these local topics of concern. Often, they help with overcoming language barriers and allow the students to engage more deeply in the subject in Telugu.

RDF is keen to introduce this program at its other schools if sufficient volunteers are available. Click here to express your interest in volunteering for the Youth Empowerment program.

Recently completed YEMP projects:

December 2010

Johanna Bjork and Gudrun Hulda, Bridges to Understanding volunteers hailing all the way from Iceland , were the first to implement the Youth Empowerment class in RDF Matendla School. They split into two groups, “The Stars” and “Sunlight” to investigate the importance of literacy and sustainability  in their communities. Their findings were extraordinary. See for yourself.

The Stars video on Literacy:

Sunlight group’s video on Sustainability:

November 2010
Sophie Geist, a Seattle volunteer from Bridges to Understanding worked with her Youth Empowerment class in RDF Kalleda School to learn about the local Lambadi tribal culture. The students investigated the phenomenon of disappearing cultures and how to preserve them.

September 2010
Elizabeth Sewell’s second Youth Empowerment class at Kalleda School created a digital story on dowry.

Dowry is a very complex topic that was chosen by the students because of it’s immediate relevance to their lives as a challenge faced by youth in the local community. They shared the movie with other students at Kalleda School to start a school-wide conversation and encourage critical thinking about the topic.

In order to reach a wider audience, two versions of the digital story were created, one in Telugu and one in English. Please choose one below and enjoy!



April 2010
Volunteers Elizabeth Sewell and Elizabeth Herb led a Youth Empowerment class at Kalleda School from February to April 2010. Using a curriculum provided by Bridges To Understanding, the class used photography and storytelling as a medium to investigate community problems. “Political Pollution” is the story produced by Elizabeth Sewell’s group, The Tigers!