Avaada Foundation: Providing Sustainability through Education and Empowerment
Rekha Devi lost her husband in her young adulthood. The responsibility of educating her daughter worried her. As the sole breadwinner of the family, she had to deal with the loss. Without self-confidence and any formal training, this 28-year-old widow woman from Jayapur village in Uttar Pradesh didn’t know where to begin. She became determined not to let her child's education suffer.
In 2015, Rekha joined the Nav Kiran Skill Academy set up by Avaada Group, under its CSR arm Avaada Foundation, and enrolled in the design stitching course. At the end of the course, she didn’t just gain her self-confidence but also developed a skill that could help sustain her family and support her child’s education and future. In fact, Rekha now has her own stitching centre which she set up at her house to further boost her family income.
Due to the skills imparted to her by Avaada Foundation’s academy, she also secured a job in Khadi Gram Udyog at Jayapur. “My respect has increased in society and in my family after I learned to stitch and started earning. I am grateful to the Nav Kiran Centre set up by Avaada for providing me with the opportunity," said Rekha. Her journey has inspired and motivated many other women from her village to join the centre and learn skills to support the livelihoods of their families.
Like Rekha, countless other women were given wings to dream by Avaada Foundation’s endeavors to enhance the quality of people’s lives.
Kanta Devi, 25, hailing from the small village of Bherukheera in Bikaner, joined the Nav Kiran Stitching Center as a trainee. Upon completion of her certification course, she became a full-time trainer at the Center. Aside from this, Kanta has also started stitching clothes for herself and her family and motivating several other young and newly-wed women in the village to be self-reliant.
Kanta says that her Rs 2,500 income per month, from the stitching work she does for friends and neighbours, has become an additional resource for her family along with the salary she receives from teaching at the training centre. “I was always interested in sewing, but after getting trained by professionals at the stitching centre, my skill has improved. I'd like to thank Avaada Foundation for supporting my journey, which has enabled me to take on more projects with confidence," she adds.
Avaada Foundation was established with a vision to make it the most promising philanthropic organization by enhancing people's lives. As the name suggests, the foundation is based on a strong belief system of the ancient Indian Vedic philosophy of “Bhumi Mata Putroaham Prithvay” – the earth is to be protected like a mother and nurtured for future generations. At Avaada, this is a dream. It is a promise that will become reality.
“Every human being is indebted to his parents who raise him. He is obliged to his community and culture. He is obligated to the Gods and Sages. In our lifetime, our goal in life is to repay this debt to nature. Our debts can be repaid and we can reach Nirvana with all good Karma. During trying times like these, our purpose and values mean a lot to the people and communities we serve, and we ought to consider ourselves fortunate to be able to serve them selflessly," says Vineet Mittal, Chairman, Avaada Foundation.
Avaada is formed of two words ‘Ayurveda’, which means the science of life, and ‘Vaada’, which means promise, a promise to create a sustainable future for all. Today, the Group is committed to 13 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. With their 360° inclusivity model, being implemented across all their sites, they ensure clean energy for the community along with education and livelihood skills for rural India.
Making a difference
Avaada Foundation’s work is not just limited to education, empowerment, and health. They run programmes that promote gender equality, provide employment by enhancing vocational skills, conduct livelihood enhancement programs and also undertake rural infrastructure development projects.
Under Avaada Foundation, the Group has carried out various initiatives and has reached out to more than 3, 30,000 beneficiaries through its activities to date. It has covered 11 States, 30 Districts, 60 Villages, and 10000 Community members.
Apart from empowering women in rural areas to lead respectful lives, Avaada Foundation has recently taken up programmes that support the environment. As part of this, a tree plantation drive will take place around all project sites under the 'Hug the Trees' and 'Go Green Environment' campaigns. It will also incentivize students to save the trees at Pavagada in Karnataka, Badaun and Bikaner. Plantation of medicinal plants and fruit bearing plants is also being done for the benefit of the local communities and school children. Additionally, awareness campaigns are being organized at schools to educate children on environment protection and carbon emissions.
From organizing health and vaccination camps to redeveloping schools and restoring heritage sites to the construction of toilets under the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan and installation of solar off-grid plants and streetlights for an over 8000 people community in Uttar Pradesh, Avaada Foundation has taken a step forward in bringing about a ground level impact in every aspect of life.
With a view to supporting the country’s growth towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals and fighting underlying issues such as illiteracy, Avaada Foundation launched a slew of programmes including initiatives to promote the education of girl children, appointment of a Shiksha Karmi to provide free extra classes and tuitions, building awareness, renovating schools and introducing innovative learning and teaching methods like smart classes. These education-based efforts have impacted the lives of over 35,000 children in rural areas.
At Avaada, the leadership understands the importance of holding on to your values and learnings to create a sustainable difference. Keeping the same in mind, they recently launched the ‘Utkrishta Shiksha Abhiyaan’ and ‘Teaching to Transform Lives’ programs in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand and Mathura.
Imparting value via education
Avaada Foundation's unique initiative, 'Utkrishta Shiksha Abhiyan' aims to create an inspirational classroom by ensuring value-driven education. The programme is a research and It is a research- and evidence-based initiative designed to maximize lessons learned and foster long-term societal development by introducing value-based educational programmes for the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development of students.
A key focus of the program is to create an environment of trust and a platform for participants to openly discuss their challenges and seek help with life's dilemmas. It is a blend of ancient wisdom, neurosciences, and modern research, delivered using experiential activities to empower youth to live happy and successful life.
The ‘Teaching to Transform Lives’ programme for teachers is a blend of principles from neurosciences, modern research, ancient wisdom, and experiential learning. It offers ideas to become an academic leader and a transformer of lives. The first tranche of the programmes was organized in 11 government and private schools in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, and at GLA University in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.
Through these initiatives, more than 4000 students and 150 teachers benefitted in Rishikesh and over 500 students and 100 teachers were positively impacted in Mathura.
“Avaada Foundation's objective is to bring about long-term societal development by introducing value-based education programs for the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development of students. In terms of the overall development of a positive ethos and culture, the program promotes change in the inner self through realisation combined with regular application of values in daily life.
Avaada Foundation aims to run the Utkrishta Shiksha Abhiyaan across India, while also adopting five government schools in Mathura to transform them into model schools. In the long-term view, the Foundation is eyeing to launch many more women-centric empowerment initiatives and introducing nutrition and health basket schemes for vulnerable sections of society to support the UN’s zero hunger goal.
Through all these interventions, Avaada also hopes to strengthen government schemes that support the same. In addition, they also geo-tag the plantations they create out of barren lands as they believe no land is ever degraded.
While every company these days is becoming conscious of its activities leaving a mark on the planet, what’s unique with Avaada is that they want to leave a positive mark that creates a difference and stays true to its promise of providing a sustainable environment for the future generation.