Assist India – Building Ideal Communities

Social Educational Development


Social-educational Development

The core ideology of ASSIST’s approach is to empower the poor by creating self-sustaining People’s Organisations. To build a firm basis for sustainable development, during this first phase the democratically elected leaders of these organisations receive training from ASSIST in all necessary aspects to take up responsibility for all future activities. Socio-Educational Development involves a series of interventions that promote awareness, community sense and confidence amongst the community.

Awareness generation

The target groups that ASSIST works with are the poorest and most marginalised communities in Indian society: scheduled castes and tribes, fishermen, artisans, agricultural labourers, small and marginal farmers and migrant workers. Within these groups poverty has passed on for many generations, diminishing their hope for change and a better future for their children. ASSIST’s critical first task is therefore to transform this mindset and build people’s confidence that change is possible. We have developed a variety of hands-on techniques to sensitise a community, including regular house visits, group meetings and mass rallies, wall paintings and cultural performances.

ASSIST has a team of full-time professional artists including singers, dancers and actors who give performances that attract large within target communities’ crowds. With songs, dances, skits and play-lets they create awareness about issues including child labour, women’s empowerment and the importance of education, sanitation, water management and savings.


People’s Organisations

Following the sensitisation process, ASSIST initiates the formation of People’s Organisations at the community level, including Village Development Societies, (Women) Self-Help Groups and Mutually Aided Co-operative Thrift and Credit Societies. These democratically elected organisations represent the needs and aspirations of all their community members and take the lead in various development activities. Once these organisations are established, its members need to have the knowledge, skills and capacities required for effective management and the execution of their programmes. ASSIST provides training on various issues like leadership, management, identifying problems and finding solutions, uniting community members and mobilising them to participate in development activities, and applying for funds from local Government institutions.

Child Development

The development of any society relies on the development of its children. Children in our target communities in rural Andhra Pradesh are too often missing the opportunities to dream of a brighter future due to the prevailing poverty, illiteracy and lack of infrastructure for care and education. ASSIST works hard to address these long-standing challenges by creating awareness of the importance of education and the consequences of child labour at the community level. Newly formed People’s Organisations are encouraged to engage directly with this topic and to begin to review the impact of school infrastructure facilities and sustainable livelihood alternatives in eliminating the need for parents to consider sending children to work.


Community Health

One of the major problems found in poor and neglected rural communities is health. The consequences of poor sanitary facilities, unhygienic practices, and lack of safe water and health care are visible in many rural villages. Our experience is that what we see as problematic or unhygienic, is often not regarded as such by people who have lived under these circumstances all their lives.

Hence, our major task is to encourage people to reflect on their situation and prepare them to discuss their needs and possible solutions within their community during special health camps. ASSIST delivers a community health programme covering issues like family welfare, mother and childcare, nutrition, drinking water, environmental sanitation and personal hygiene, immunisation and patient care.

In remote areas where people have never visited a medical specialist, we organise health check-up camps. We also motivate people to grow vegetables and high yielding pulses in kitchen gardens and to raise chickens in backyard poultries in order to improve nutrition.

Women’s Empowerment

ASSIST believes that community development is incomplete without the inclusion of women’s voices and participation. Our efforts to empower women consist of two major steps. First, we encourage women to organize themselves in People’s Organization’s like Self-Help Groups and build confidence to raise their voices and fight for their rights. Our next step is to increase their skills, capacities and
knowledge of women’s legal rights in order to increase their participation in community decision-making. Secondly, ASSIST gives special attention to the promotion of building up savings and credit as an instrument of socio-economic change among women. Taking the lead in family finances provides women with an independent, viable and visible role, building confidence in engagements with their families and community.

Once the Socio-Educational phase is complete, Each Village Development Society (VDS) is officially registered as legal organisation. This means that through the VDS, village communities can apply for government schemes and take out loans, which is essential for the next two phases.