Archive for the ‘Youth Empowerment Program’ Category

Learning is Everywhere!

The extended closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic has created new ways of learning for the rural children we work with. Many students are helping their parents in their various occupations and some children are learning new skills to utilize their time productively.

A group of children from Redlawada School wanted to learn how to make clay pots. They requested RDF non teaching staff, Mr. Sai Ram to help them. Mr. Sai Ram also works as a bus cleaner. Accepting the children’s requested, he is teaching this enthusiastic group how to make different types of pots. It’s lovely to see the kids applying themselves earnestly to the craft of pottery.

This is what RDF’s holistic education approach is about – there are many skills to be learnt beyond textbooks and beyond classrooms. The pandemic is helping children understand the challenges in rural occupations, their importance in providing sustenance for the families and the larger community and developing a strong sense of social responsibility.

Samatha Can Do Anything!

It is amazing for us to see the resilience in the rural children we work with, who tackle the problems in their lives head on.

Chinnala Samatha, is a 1st year BPC (Biology, Physics, Chemistry) student in the RDF VAPV Junior College. Due to very strained economic circumstances, her parents migrated to the city as labourers. Her father is an alcoholic and is unable to sustain work, so it’s her mother who provides for the family.

Samatha lives with her grandparents in Kalleda village and is determined to do well in life. She is clever and sincere in everything she does. A self motivated learner, she loves to read academic books to enhance her subject knowledge and understanding. She diligently prepares notes and does practice papers, which resulted her being the group topper with a score of 95%! It is this ‘can do’ attitude that is helping her progress in her education. She says, “I come from a poor family but I’m not poor in intelligence. I want to prove my talent and become a doctor. My mother is my inspiration. I want to do something for society and I believe ‘Health is Wealth’”.

We fully support Samatha’s ambitions and are positive that her attitude and abilities will take her far in life!

Art and Inspiration

RDF schools provide plenty of opportunity for students to showcase their skills and talent. After all, academic development and achievement is not the only measure to gauge students’ progress in school.

In Redlawada School, an entire wall has been dedicated to display students’ art work. Seeing their work up on the wall gives our students a lot of encouragement and support for their unique talents. In fact, RDF teachers are trained to identify children’s skills and talents and encouraging them to work in their own areas of interest, thus cultivating their inherent skills. The freedom to work on their art really allows their imagination to soar! The smiles and sense of pride to see their work on the wall is really special!

MEO & Government school visitors admiring the Art Wall

As part of an Educational tour, some Government school students and teachers visited the school. They were amazed to see the Art Wall and commented that children should be given opportunities to showcase their special abilities, be it art, craft, dance, music or sports. They were so taken by the idea that they spoke about it to their families and other community members too, which made our students even happier.

We feel really happy to see RDF children blossoming in so many ways. We thank our teachers for working so hard to nurture individual talent and creating an atmosphere of care and encouragement RDF schools.

Career Inspirations

IMG-20160106-WA0014The RDF VAPV Junior College organised a Inspirational Talk and Career Guidance session on a career in the Police. The Guest Lecturer on the occasion was the Parvathagiri Sub Inspector, Mr. Burglula Venkat Rao. He extolled the values of a career in the Police as being one in service to society. He patiently explained the practical aspects of life in the Police Service – the daily challenges and satisfaction derived from such work.

Students were inspired by his talk and many felt they were ready for a career in the Police. Since entry is competitive, he also provided details on how to prepare for the entry test and what to expect. The students found a good mentor in Mr. Venkat Rao and we hope that they will follow their dreams and achieve their desired goals.

IMG-20160106-WA0008The college was also thrilled to announce that three alumni achieved their dream job of joining the Police force – Rakesh and Ravi from the 2010 batch and Swamy from the 2011 batch. We are all very proud of them! 

Project Play!

Students collecting soil samples from the neighbourhood

Students collecting soil samples from the neighbourhood

We all know how much fun play is! In school, real time projects allow for crucial hands on experience to be gained for students. The aim is not merely to ‘experiment’ as an academic activity per se, but to engage with the local environment and milieu, so that classroom and project learning can be applied to real life experiences. Only then can the learning become meaningful for students.

In Redlawada, students had precisely this opportunity when they decided to do a project on soil – understand types of soil locally, learn about their qualities, the kind of crops each type supports. They gained this knowledge not from their books, but through meeting parents and farmers. The project allowed them to understand good agricultural practices, without the use of fertilisers and optimization of soil. With many rural children wanting to move away from an agrarian lifestyle and seek jobs in bigger cities, we hope such project spark interest some students, which will encourage them take up agriculture.

Our Alumni, Our Assets!


Matendla School alum, K. Raju showed his deep appreciation for the years he studies there as a child, yearning for a better life through education. Now in his final year to complete a Bachelors in Science in Sri Vidya Degree College, Siddipet, Raju and his friend often discussed the dilemma of good education in rural areas and how they can help. For RDF schools that rely on charitable individuals and organization, no help is too small and Raju knew this. Together with his friends, they collected Rs. 3000 and bough a rack for the Science Lab. The Principal and Lecturers too supported this endeavour and pitched in. On Republic Day, the group of friends, Principal and Director presented the rack to the Headmaster. They also conducted a GK Competition and distributed prizes. The RDF family is touched by his generosity and is proud to have inspired the students to give back. They are assets to Indian society!


Graduated, but not gone

Kalleda alum B. Veranna teaching students

Although B. Veeranna graduated Kalleda school and now studies at the National Institute of Technology in Warangal, he regularly returns to his alma mater.

During his own school holidays, B. Veeranna is teaching 8th, 9th and 10th physicals science classes at Kalleda. (The regular science teacher had left for another job.)

B. Veeranna — who attended Kalleda from 3rd to 10th class — also visits other RDF schools, helps with the Youth Empowerment Program, the Social Awareness Program and conducts career guidance classes for 10th grade students. In addition to assisting the students, B. Veeranna regularly translates from Telugu to English for the volunteers.

RDF Matendla School: Buy a Recipe!

Johanna and Gudrun are two volunteers from Iceland who were the first to introduce the Youth Empowerment Program to RDF Matendla school. Here’s a post written by Johanna on a special project they worked on in addition to their Youth Empowerment class – the Buy a Recipe project!

Johanna Bjork and Gudrun Hulda

Those who have been to RDF Matendla School know that it has the freshest, tastiest, and most amazing food. Besides the smiling students, the best thing about Matendla  is without a doubt the food. The school’s kitchen is a hidden treasure of Indian food. The reason for the kitchen’s success is freshness, care and simplicity.

The ingredients are all local and seasonal. The school grows its own garden, which the students take an active part in taking care of. Their other main ingredients are love and care for the students, chilies and turmeric, and a little dance here and there. Sometimes Vishnu, the headmaster comes and adds pride to the recipes.

RDF Matendla School's kitchen

The kitchen is a simple one. It has a few gigantic pots, huge saucepans, two gas-stoves, two fireplaces, a large floorspace and several primitive but very interesting work-tools. No electricity, no fancy machines. Everything is clean cut and clear.

The two of us have been sitting quietly, watching and learning from the best. Now, we have gathered our favorite recipes from the Matendla Kitchen and adjusted to scale (since the least of us ever make lunch for 356 hungry schoolchildren). We want to share with you the treasures of Matendla School.

The world can learn from the Matendla School Kitchen so we have prepared a small-scale fund-raiser on mine and Gudrun’s personal website. We simply call it Buy a Recipe.

Eggplant (vankai in Telugu) curry, a boiled egg, and rice make a full meal

Already we have collected enough money to buy the students a new camera, volleyball and a basketball and to buy necessities for the kitchen. We hope that with the help of friends and family and other RDF friends we can raise a lot more.

Click HERE to see the website for yourself!

RDF plans to adopt the Buy a Recipe program on a larger scale (by including the other schools) and then incorporating it into its own website.

Verði þér að góðu

– Icelandic for Bon apetit

RDF Kalleda School Student Profiles: Ravali L. and Sravan D.


Ravali preparing an exhibit for the district science fair

Twelve year old Ravali and thirteen year old Sravan are typical of many of RDF’s rural students who are keenly aware that their education is their passport to success.

Ravali who lives with her grandmother is one of a large number of students whose school fees are partly met under the ‘Sponsor a Child’ program.  Similarly, Sravan, whose mother teaches at one of RDF’s schools, is entitled to free education – available to the children of all RDF employees.

Both  Ravali and Sravan attend RDF Kalleda School where they are well known for their enthusiasm to take part in as many extra-curricular events as they can fit into their busy school days. They were members of a school team which won second place in a district science fair.

Sravan discovered his natural skill as a photographer when he was a photo blog student for the Youth Empowerment program, working with Sophie, a US volunteer. Armed with a digital camera – for the first time in his life – he took part in a district photograph competition and won second prize. He would love to have a camera of his own to pursue his interest.

Ravali has played an active role in the Rubin project, designed to teach students about the lives and culture of the Lambadi tribe, many of whom live in the surrounding district.

Lambadis are a scheduled tribe under the Indian constitution and efforts are being made to preserve their disappearing traditions. Ravali, along with other Kalleda students, has learned traditional Lambadi stitching techniques which involve attaching plastic mirrors to cloth to create stunning patterns.

Sravan (center) and his friends discussing their English homework

Both Ravali and Sravan have a good grasp of English. Shravan says Indian history and English are his favourite subjects while Ravali explains that she developed her spoken English under the guidance of a US volunteer who spent 10 months at Kalleda.

Like so many of their school friends, they’ve already decided on their career paths. Ravali wants to be a medical doctor so that she can help poor children from backgrounds like hers and Sravan says he wants to be a politician. ‘Politicians are liars. I want to be an honest politician to help change society,’ he says proudly.

It’s obvious talking to them that the RDF ethos of honesty and transparency has helped shape their thinking and influenced their decisions to be of service to others.