Youth Empowerment Program

Youth empowerment classes for selected groups of students at Kalleda and Matendla schools have become a regular feature of the extra-curricular education. Bridges to Understanding, a not for profit based in the US sends interns to RDF to teach youth about empowerment.

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 analyse their own culture and society.
Digital stories produced by Kalleda students include, the way of life of the Lambadi people, an Indian tribe, many of whom have settled in the state of Telangana.

Alumni ambassadors play a role in the YEMP (Youth Empowerment Program) as well, by mentoring students, offering career advice, helping with personal issues and motivating students to pursue higher education.

Recently completed Youth Empowerment Projects

December 2010

Johanna Bjork and Gudrun Hulda, Bridges to Understanding volunteers came all the way from Iceland to implement the first 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, volunteer – 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 click below and enjoy!



February – 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!

You can watch it here –

Through a Rubin Foundation grant, some Kalleda students learnt the technique of mirror embroidery that their ancestors used to decorate clothing. Today, girls are using the techniques in their own homes. Tribal and village elders have entertained students with the ancient practice of storytelling, reciting tribal stories while accompanied by musical instruments like the dholak, tabla and chirutalu. Lambadi women have held dance workshops for students, who then perform the routines for guests.