Since its inception in 1969, RDT has endeavoured to improve the quality of life of the rural poor, especially among marginalized and underprivileged communities – Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Backward Castes (BC), and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
Ananthapuram district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has long been a difficult place to live in – a land-locked district with patchy rainfall and an arid landscape. Large farm-holders enjoyed a feudal hold over lower-caste tenant farmers, or even bonded labourers created by indebtedness. It was into this scenario – a society deeply divided along caste, tribe and gender lines and marked by pockets of utter destitution – that Father Vicente Ferrer arrived in 1969.
The main challenge faced by the rural poor in those years was a lack of basic nutrition, and when they did eat, the meal would be of poor quality. So RDT’s early work was in the area of food provision and nutritional awareness. From then onward, RDT engaged more and more with the rural poor of Ananthapuram, Kurnool and Srisailam districts, till its work fell clearly into the 10 sectoral divisions it has today.