Transforming both University Students & Rural Beneficiaries
Students gain an understanding of the hardships with poverty and lack of resources, and through this experience, develop life skills such as empathy, interpersonal relationship skills. Developing solutions to these problems helps not only the beneficiaries but challenges students to develop critical and creative thinking. The university students and village children build a relationship with each other and often stay in touch even after graduating. Through the program students understand that it is possible to create transformative change in communities.
The program empowers rural communities by making them self-reliant and inclusive development aided by ICT4D. AmritaRITE uses mobile learning at 41 villages in 21 states with a strong component in values,gender equality, health, and composting, growing organic vegetables for nutrition and respect for Mother Nature. Rural children show increased self-awareness with yoga and life-skills training, problem solving, and learn to cope with emotions and stress.
Rural school students are mentored as ambassadors for preventing peers from substance abuse. Adolescent high-school girls, mentored as ambassadors to promote gender equality, develop self-confidence and self-esteem while spreading awareness to reduce child marriage, human trafficking awareness and encourage more girls to attend secondary school.
Modifying and using local customs and traditions to support education and environment is another innovative approach adopted by the university as was exemplified by gifting saplings during festive celebrations, along with other items. Adopting eco-friendly practices ensures economic savings for community members and rural villagers who were trained on growing organic vegetables and creating income generating products from waste. Students too exhibit a wholesome change in attitude to Mother Nature, learning to appreciate the value of organic produce, clean air and water. Waste management and knowledge of solid waste handling provides avenues for income and job opportunities.
Students in live-in-lab internships support holistic education for children in poverty in rural and remote villages using modules on tablets for literacy, health, science labs, respect for Mother Nature, values, environment,
substance-abuse and human trafficking. This has effectively boosted gender equality and motivated more girls in villages to continue to high school. The Ambassador Program for high school boys to avoid substance abuse and for high school girls to promote gender equality continues this even after they have gone back.
For many city students, this interaction with remote and rural India is an eye-opener to the difficulties faced by those in poverty. It develops compassion in the hearts of students that participate and a desire to help make a difference. Even after graduating, they continue to find ways to contribute.
For village communities, their heartfelt interest and tangible presence provides empowerment with improved skills, knowledge of government-sanctioned rights to disadvantages communities, and improved self-esteem and confidence.