The NRI Telugu community in North America comprises of 4 lakh individuals. Many of them began their education in government schools, which they felt gave them their first leg up in the world, and when they seek to give back to the hometowns where they have formative memories, many look to ensuring that every dollar makes a difference.
Looking to tap into such sentiments, the Andhra Pradesh state began the Janmabhoomi Initiative in January 2016. The scheme gives NRIs the chance to financially contribute to four types of projects—Digital Classrooms, Anganwadi Centers, Crematoriums, and Sports.
The Andhra Government covers 70% of the total cost of the building running such institutions, while the NRIs can fund the remaining 30%.
Here is a detailed explanation of the four projects.
1) Establishing Digitised Schools
The AP Janmabhoomi Digitised School Initiative assists schools in setting up a technology-driven study environment.
The programme aims at equipping schools with interactive whiteboards, digital content and classroom software. The digital content, from several major service providers, is set up in both English and Telugu.
The plan seeks to establish 5000 digital schools by 2018, and also trains undergraduate students as teachers for such digital schools, through an Internship Program for 30 hours in five Modules. The state claims that some 1000 UG students associated themselves with the “digital literacy programme.”
Officially, approximately 2400 Schools have been ‘digitised’ since October 2016.
2) Development of Pre-School Education and Healthcare in Anganwadi Centres
AP Janmabhoomi has also been working to restructure traditional Anganwadi Centers. The primary aim is to improve nutrition and healthcare among pre-school children and lactating and pregnant women while providing them with a quality education.
The project is expanding its reach to ensure maternal healthcare and early childhood care along with an emphasis on holistic development of children. For the same reason, the training provided to Anganwadi workers mainly focuses on pre-school education and provision of nutritional aid. The training is carried out in collaboration with the NGO Sodhana.
Facilities like toys, educational aids, TV, medical check-up examination and the like are provided to the Anganwadi centres as part of the initiative.
“100 Anganwadi Centers are in process in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram Districts,” said Jayaram Komati, Andhra Pradesh’s Special Representative for North America.
“NRIs are giving assistance to set up facilities for pre-school education and healthcare in numerous Anganwadi Centres on the request of the State Government and will increase their service activities in future,” he added.
3) Construction of Crematoriums
Interestingly, some NRIs also came forward to develop the crematoriums in villages—a crucial issue that is usually overlooked. The Andhra Government has a scheme for this, referred to as Mahaprasthanam.
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The initiative is working towards spreading awareness among the NRI community on the need for this essential facility in every village/town. The initiative seeks to provide the last rites in a dignified manner, giving the deceased an aesthetic place to rest.
Like with the schools, the Government puts up 70% of the cost for these projects, with the rest contributed by NRI donors. “With an ambitious target to complete 1500 crematoriums of Rs 3 Lakh each, construction of 50 Crematoriums is in the process,” a statement said.
4) Fostering Social Development through Sports among Tribal Communities
The AP Janmabhoomi initiative has also successfully carried out various initiatives to uplift tribal communities of the state. With the help of 51 NRI patrons, the Janmabhoomi team reached out to the Kothavalasa community, a remote hamlet located in Korrai panchayat of Dumbriguda mandal in Visakhapatnam district.
This marked the first Tribal Development Project of Janmabhoomi, which resulted in the construction of a sports playground in the area.
The Impact So Far
The initiative has been successful in engaging over 1500 NRIs and NRI Organizations. 2400 Schools have been digitised since the commencement of the effort, 100 Anganwadi Centers have been created, and more are underway, and 50 Crematoriums have been constructed by now, and more are in the process of being built.
The aid and encouragement of the NRIs have played a prominent role in shaping the journey of the Andhra Pradesh Janmabhoomi Initiative. Their constant support has underpinned the efforts of the State Government.
It is to commemorate such altruistic spirits that the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated every year to strengthen the engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Government.