In the early 1970s, a group of students came to Orissa, India to help victims of a devastating cyclone. From those humble beginnings came an organization called Gram Vikas, (which means Village Development), currently serving hundreds of thousands of people in innumerable habitations and districts in the states of Odisha and its neighbours. As a B1G1 project, their goal is to enable the poor and marginalized rural people across India to achieve a dignified quality of life.
You’ll notice that the Gram Vikas’ logo denotes the coming together of two hands, in a partnership. The two hands together also make a heart. In so many ways, that logo defines the spirit of Gram Vikas.
And how do they do that? They provide solutions across the spectrum of community needs ranging from water and sanitation to education, affordable housing, skills training and earning a livelihood.
Their flagship program – MANTRA (Movement and Action Network for Transformation of Rural Areas) – has transformed the lives of more than 63,000 families by providing them access to clean water and sanitation. This sustainable solution has been globally acclaimed, and is considered to be a model to be emulated
Shubhasis Pattnaik is the Executive Director at Gram Vikas:
Our target is to reach 100,000 families in the next 2 to 3 years. For this we would need to ramp up our operations, and raise the requisite funds for this ambitious goal. B1G1 contributions will, as always, play a major role in our success.
“We also aspire to spread our proven and acclaimed MANTRA model to other states of India and other countries which can benefit from this intervention,”Shubhasis told us. “We have started this in a small way in other Indian states like Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Nagaland. We have also participated in MANTRA pilots in Africa, specifically Tanzania and Gambia.”
Over the years, Gram Vikas has taken up ambitious projects and has partnered with the Orissa State Disaster Management Agency (OSDMA) to build disaster resilient houses for cyclone “Phailin” victims. This program, known as the Orissa Disaster Recovery Project (ODRP), is the largest project of its kind in India and possibly the world. Over 22,000 disaster resilient houses will be constructed in three of the worst impacted districts in Odisha in the next two years.
Gram Vikas is also involved in skills development for the rural poor in India. Their goal is to train thousands of masons and water and sanitation professionals who will not only help in projects, but ensure that there is a lasting and positive impact on livelihoods. The organization is involved in land and water management, improved agriculture practices, social forestry, horticulture, water and food security projects, micro enterprises, and more.
“Through B1G1 contributions, we promote and run residential schools for the local children,” said Shubhasis. “These have been very successful in supplementing the government interventions in this area, as we have been able to reach and provide educational services through four residential schools involving 1,300 students and 36 teachers!”
They also support nine Day Schools with an emphasis on ‘joyful learning’. Even when it comes to sports, Gram Vikas organizers have started and supported programmes like “Khel Vikas” – an initiative around the holistic development of children, providing opportunities to unearth and nurture sporting talent in their schools.
The people at Gram Vikas will proudly show you the stats resulting from their work, with hundreds of graduated students now working for NGOs, governments, and businesses. Part of that was made possible by your participation in the B1G1 giving program.