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Last Updated: December 1, 2022

 
 

“All universities should send their students to impoverished rural villages or city slums for at least one or two months during their education. They would be able to directly see the issues and problems that the poor face. They could then develop solutions and write papers on everything they studied. This would help us to help the poor in the most effective way and, at the same time, awaken compassion in today’s youth.”
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Amma
Chancellor, Amrita Viswa Vidyapeetham

Born out of Amma’s unique vision on education, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham stands tall as a distinctive temple of knowledge with a commitment towards social change. Founded on four primary principles namely education for everyone, education for life, compassion driven research and global impact, the university puts the Amma’s vision into practice by imparting a culture of the heart, based on enduring values and inner strength.

For detailed information

1. Outreach Programs in Villages

Live-in-Labs® is a multidisciplinary experiential learning program that breaks classroom and lab barriers by applying learned theory in real-world settings. This credit-based academic program draws on principles of lean research for the development and deployment of sustainable solutions for current challenges, clustered in 7 thematics, faced by rural communities in India. By directly living in rural communities (labs) and co-designing sustainable solutions program participants gain first-hand knowledge along with the know-how of identifying and assessing community needs. Subsequently viable solutions are developed and implemented through various participatory methods.

During the COVID the offline outreach were temporarily suspended. Amrita resumed slowly its activities in May 2022.
From May 2022 to December 2022, 2 international students already participated to Live in Labs from the University Autonomous of Barcelona (Spain) and University of New Mexico (USA). They went respectively in the Alappad village, Kerala, for a water project, and Joona Kattiwada (Madhya Pradesh) for a Mental and Health project. During the same period, 133 Indian students wen to villages for outreach projects:

  • 11 students from the Chennai campus for Agriculture and Energy related projects
  • 60 students from Amritapuri campus for water, health, and waste management related projects
  • 62 students from Mysore campus for waste management and livelihood related projects

For Further information on Live in Labs: Click here

1.2.1 School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

In the School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, community outreach (field visit) is directly integrated in the curriculum.

Thus, a one month-field trip in villages is organized for the Master of Social Work and Integrated Master of Social Work students of Amritapuri campus, every year.

In Coimbatore campus, the field visits take the form of a concurrent field work, where students visit NGO’s and communities every week. A field trip of a shorter duration is also organized.

In June 2021 till May 2022, because of Covid, the field visits were momentarily suspended.

During this period of time, our Social Sciences faculty and our field team at the Center of Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality (CWEGE) were systematically in contact with the local supervisors to support all the villagers during this difficult period. During the height of the Covid pandemic, CWEGE initiated a comprehensive study to explore the impact of the nationwide lockdown on self-help groups (or SHGs) in the villages. This study shed light on the plight of thousands of SHGs that came to a halt due to the inability to convene regularly and carry out their income generating activities. In response to these multifaceted challenges, CWEGE designed and implemented a comprehensive intervention approach that served as the backbone of subsequent field projects.

The field visits resumed slowly after the re-opening of the Amritapuri and Coimbatore campuses in May 2022.

For further information: Click here

1.2.2. Amrita Hospital

Amrita Hospital has given 43,000 doses of vaccine to the Kerala state government as part of the Covid relief activities undertaken by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math on Sunday, February 27, 2022. The vaccines, which total Rs 2.71 crore in value, were given to the Government of India from the hospital’s corporate social responsibility funds.

Amrita Hospital was the first private hospital in the country to collaborate with the government under the private-public partnership to promote Covid vaccination. Later, Amrita joined hands with Ernakulam District Panchayat and introduced facilities for the general public to get vaccinated. Millions of people have been vaccinated at the hospital.

For further information: Click here

The COVID pandemic had disastrous effects on rural women and transgender individuals in India. Apart from the tragic health impacts, job opportunities dwindled, pushing them further into economic uncertainty. The transgender community, already marginalized, faced heightened discrimination, making it even harder to secure employment or access social services.

To help them bide the storm, Amma supported over 250,000 women through the pandemic by providing cash support, food and clothing, and ration supplies, twice a year. It was Amma’s desire to build resilience and preparedness in these communities, addressing the challenges revealed by Covid, to strengthen the women’s Self-Help Group structures through diversification of livelihoods.

Under the guidance of Amrita’s Chancellor and as part of an initiative led by the Government of India’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, called “Avsar SANKALP – Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion,” in collaboration with the World Bank, Amrita University was sanctioned on April 1, 2022 to provide vocational training and build resilience for 4,500 women and transgender individuals across six states of India – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.

Amrita University’s SHG recovery model offers an enriched blend of vocational education and training designed to empower groups and individuals not only economically, but also socially and psychologically. It integrates vital components such as life enrichment education, entrepreneurship development, digital literacy, SHG leadership, and governance. This approach aims to rejuvenate and strengthen existing SHGs, and initiate new groups by preparing individuals for collective enterprises. 

Overall, Amrita offered an array of over 40 courses, all officially approved by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and aligned with the National Skill Qualification Framework. Each of the diverse courses offered unique growth opportunities for women and transgender individuals participating in the training. 

The participants in the Amrita SANKALP project enthusiastically embarked on the courses they selected, which included: organic farming, mushroom cultivation, seaweed cultivation, tailoring, hand embroidery, beauty therapy, general duty assistance, and beekeeping among many others.

The curriculum, designed for empowerment, included vocational and business skills for knowledge acquisition towards gainful employment as well as life skills (also called L.E.E. & SMART SHG) for the individual, and collective skills to build community cohesion, functioning and overall well being. Training was delivered through a digital platform, tailored for learners with low literacy and digital skills. This platform offered interactive, user-friendly content. Alongside these lessons, it built digital literacy by incorporating the latest technologies and e-content in an easily usable format.

In the LEE sessions, students developed their interpersonal skills. They engaged in activities or watched short films on pressing social issues and then discussed their thoughts and observations in small groups before sharing them with the larger class. These discussions provided a safe space for students to express themselves, learn from one another, and gain confidence in discussing sensitive issues. These sessions covered a wide range of important topics, including time-management, sanitation, health, substance abuse, nutrition, women’s health, child abuse, human trafficking, and more.

Amrita also conducted activities called “Ideal Village” and “LEE in the Community,” during which students were given a chance to address real issues in their communities. In the “Ideal Village,” students worked in groups to envision what their perfect village might look like, highlighting the differences between them and their current surroundings. This reflection helped them identify problem areas that can be addressed with group support. In the “LEE in the Community,” students collaborated to take action on community issues they are passionate about. This demonstrated both their increased awareness and capacity to address personal and social concerns.

An additional, remarkable aspect of this initiative is the “SMART SHG” component.The training equipped participants from Odisha, Kerala, and Haryana, with essential skills, knowledge, and tools to enhance their financial literacy, entrepreneurship skills, and overall well-being. By empowering women, encouraging community development, and promoting social inclusion, SMART SHG training made meaningful contributions toward building a more equitable and sustainable society.

Susheela Devi, Yogashala, Kerala
I joined the Ashram Tailoring Center as a student. (…) I thought the class would solely cover vocational education. However, a great deal of life skill-related work was completed in class. I have friends who range in age from 19 to 70. That was a unique experience for me. Suma, the class’s oldest student, was seventy years old. Everybody would ask her, “Why did you come to study this?” and Sumaamma would always smile and say, ” Nothing has an age restriction. If a person is mentally capable of working and is in good enough health, they can perform any profession at any age.” During the course, she also started working part-time at Saukhyam Pads (which are recyclable pads produced by the women). She works at Saukhyam Pads full-time now.

In Oct 2022, as the pandemic subsided, the first Sankalp training center was inaugurated in the Dhenkanal district, Odisha.

For further information:
Sankalp
Smiles in Odisha – New SANKALP Centre

1.3 Amrita Serve: Yoga in Dunda, Uttrakhand and Maira , Punjab: Online Yoga Sessions

A YOGA FOR MIND, BODY CONTROL AND PEACE program was held in 20th June, 2021, Maira village in Punjab, Dunda village in Uttarakhand.

Conducting the online yoga sessions during the lockdown period was challenging to the instructors. Yoga teachers Ashit (Odisha) and Subhadra (Uttarakhand), Neelam conducted online sessions which instantly became lively and joyous events.

Children too were eagerly participating in the class and by making sure everyone gets a turn, trainers managed to give attention to everyone. The children developed a regular yoga practice, they knew the theory and were enthusiastic to talk about it.

They got faith in the knowledge of their Indian cultural and spiritual heritage.

For further info: Click Here

2. Outreach Programs in Schools

Outreach programs in schools are essential at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham to nurture a culture of knowledge sharing and community engagement. By reaching out to schools, Amrita extends its expertise to students, fostering early interest in diverse subjects and encouraging lifelong learning. Below are two examples of outreach programs outside Amrita.

STEAM for Social Good is a IEEE Try Engineering funded project that commenced on Sept 3, 2022 in collaboration with IEEE Education Society Kerala Section and AMMACHI Labs, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. The ten-day STEAM coding camp is in full swing and to be followed by a two-day Makeathon on applying a design thinking approach towards UN Sustainable Development Goals. The coding camp is happening in hybrid mode in Kochi, Kerala India. 

Since the beginning of 2022, nine mentors from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham have mentored 84 children from grades 6-12 to go through the engineering design process from identifying societal problems to developing and testing innovative technological solutions. The 3.5-month long training and mentorship program prepares student teams from three schools to participate in the ATL Marathon innovation challenge conducted by Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog. 

For further information on STEAM: Click here

On March 27th 2021, Amrita AMMACHI Labs organized and conducted an Atal Innovation Mission (ATL) Tinkerpreneurship Bootcamp for school children. Prof. Gayathri Manikutty from AMMACHI Labs mentored 18 children over a 4-week period. 

During the training, the participants acquired the necessary digital skills, created and developed a business model around a digital product, made a marketing plan, developed/established a store online, learnt about corporate finance and gained by presenting their introduction to industry experts. Students and their ATL leaders were mapped in small groups with mentors.

For further information on ATAL: Click here

3. Special Outreach: Amrita Yoga in Prisons

Amrita Yoga Outreach in jails is a transformative initiative by Amrita University, aimed at bringing the healing power of yoga to incarcerated individuals. The program focuses on imparting yoga and meditation techniques to inmates, promoting physical and mental well-being. By fostering mindfulness and self-awareness, the objective is to enhance inmates’ emotional resilience, reduce stress, and support their rehabilitation process. Through this outreach, Amrita University aims to empower inmates with essential life skills, promoting inner peace and fostering a positive environment within correctional facilities.

In the period June 2021 to July 2022 (extended to end December 2022):

  • 27 offline 7 to 10 day-programs in 27 Central prisons/District or Sub jails were conducted all over Kerala. It benefitted to 588 prisoners.
  • 5239 prisoners benefitted from online programs in 65 prisons.

The testimonies speak by themselves:

“I was very disturbed prior to attending the yoga class. I was unable to contact anyone, and my family was also distressed as a result of my situation. All of this made me sad. I used to fail miserably at controlling my thoughts and feelings despite my best efforts. Yoga and meditation are without a doubt the most important lessons I’ve learned during my time in prison. It forced me to learn and practice maintaining a positive outlook on life. These sessions taught me a lot about life. Now both my mind and body are at ease. I’m still addicted to drugs, but I’m trying to cut back, and this place is turning into real correctional home.”
– Inmate

“In our cell there are 10 to 15 people. We were always fighting and arguing with each other. We all sat together after the first class and discussed the topics that has been covered. It was the first time in my life that I had a three-day stretch of uninterrupted sleep. As a result, we’d like to have more of these sessions.”
– Inmate

For further details: Click here 
Amrita Yoga 2022 – Complete Report

4. Outreach Through Competion: Engenius

Engenius – 2022 is a national level annual project competition organized by Directorate of Admissions & Academic Outreach at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.

Engenius offered a platform for talented Engineering students & professionals to highlight their innovative technical projects. The competition was open to Engineering students – UG, PG/ PhD Scholars and Professionals working in industry.

The event culminated with the “Future Technology & Innovators Summit 22” in July 2022 where participants got an opportunity to be an integral part of the tech ecosystem. This was a fantastic opportunity for aspiring as well as veterans of the technology industry to meet and network.

For further information on Engenius 2022: Click here

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