Sustainable Sainji: A community focused learning partnership
Sainji, a remote community in the foothills of the western Himalayas suffers many of the problems typical of poor rural communities in India, including a lack of healthcare, a poor diet, an unsafe and unreliable water supply and poor-quality education. Villager’s livelihoods are also being increasingly impacted by climate change. Each year volunteer students, staff and alumni from Anglia Ruskin University work alongside local community leaders in Sainji engaging in grassroots, participatory development.
Sustainable Sainji matches volunteer’s specific degree level skills and knowledge with the community’s development priorities. For example, nursing students provide health and wellbeing advice and paramedics lead first aid workshops. Education students help teachers develop their teaching skills and others work with local school children using theatre to demonstrate to villagers how germs and disease can spread and encourage hand-washing and water saving. In return volunteers gain a transformational personal experience, deeper subject expertise and valuable employability skills.
Top 3 learnings:
1 The need to be flexible and resourceful: things rarely go to plan.
2 Listen to what the community is saying and do not make assumptions.
3 It will always take twice as long as you think.