Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti, a grassroots organization whose name directly translates to ‘People’s Awakening and Development Society,’ began its 3 decade journey of social change in the village of Vali. Approximately 50 kilometers outside Udaipur, a group of social activists in this village became concerned with the poor living conditions and socio-economic status of tribal communities in southern Rajasthan. Recognizing the importance of addressing this issue, they gathered the entire community residing in Vali and began a process of service and program development. Starting with no funds, the team of activists brought the community together via a project that later became known as “A Handful of Grains.”
“A Handful of Grains” was initially based out of a single household, and asked each of the families in the local community to contribute a single handful of wheat to a community bank. The harvested grain was originally used to support local services and traditions within the village of Vali, as people received a helping of wheat in exchange for their services. This later become a monthly routine for farmers, and the wheat began supporting a new wave of projects.
In 1989, 15 village children died due to a diphtheria outbreak in the Udaipur district. The community reached out for help from the government health care system, but instead of receiving immediate treatment, the case fell through the cracks. Alarmed by this tragedy and the lack of mobilization from the government, JJVS had to step up. With JJVS advocacy and support, the village received help from the government and successfully stopped the outbreak. Through this intervention, JJVS earned the trust and recognition from the grateful community.
As JJVS became a respected and reputable entity in the community and funds from the wheat bank and other sources accumulated, new project developments began. For example the villagers began selling the wheat and using the funds to host programs for Women’s Day Celebrations. This paved the way for JJVS to promote and educate villagers about the need for women’s rights. JJVS also became involved in the areas of education, food and health security, employment, drought, local governance and social justice.
Since 1985, JJVS has gained international recognition as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and has implemented sustainable project initiatives within the realms of Traditional Health and Community Development. Receiving funding from foundations including the Ford Foundation, CARE India, CASA, and the Ministry of Environment & Forest Govt. of India, JJVS has been able to expand project interventions and has supported the livelihoods of over 2.4 million community members across Udaipur.