This is the year Rural Development Trust (RDT) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. A big milestone for a grassroots organisation which started working in just 250 villages around Anantapur district during the 70s. Now it reaches out to more than 3.660 villages in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and has impacted the lives of more than 3 million people.
The IV Anantapur Ultramarathon held on 24th and 25th January, 2019 marked the launch of RDT’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Known as the only relay ultramarathon in India, it took place on the same dates on which Vicente Ferrer and Anne Ferrer, the founders of the organisation reached Anantapur in 1969. This event that gathered more than 214 runners from India and abroad has just been the beginning of what is expected to be a year full of activities and projects.
Earlier this year customised banners and stationery were distributed in the numerous field offices of RDT in its 8 project regions. Also, the entire staff received a diary, handmade by more than 31 women with disabilities working for Integrated Development Trust.
“This is a commemoration for the people of Anantapur and everyone is playing a role in it. From the volunteers to the directors, from the farmers to the students. It is the celebration of dignity, change and equality,” said Anne Ferrer when asked about the planning for the year.
To ensure the involvement of the communities in this celebration, during the month of May more than 4,000 postcards will be distributed among the local communities that RDT works with. These postcards will have two questions stated in it: 1) On the occasion of RDT’s 50th anniversary, please share the experiences you have had with RDT? and 2) On what problems/issues do you think RDT should focus on, in the upcoming years?
When asked about this initiative Moncho Ferrer, RDT’s programme director, pointed out, “This is a significant year for us, to look back at what we have achieved but more importantly to set the stage for the next fifty years of RDT. For that, we need to know people’s opinions.”
One highlight, among the other endeavours is that every sector and department of RDT has undertaken an Action Plan which aligns with the dharma of the organisation. These actions plan will focus on a variety of topics including the reduction of the high levels of anaemia in the region by the community health sector, eradication of early marriages by the women empowerment sector, the establishment of a new housing design through a participatory process. The activities related with these actions plans willbe implemented throughout the year.
For the past years, RDT has been working towards the empowerment of rural communities in India and supporting them in their struggle to eradicate poverty, suffering and injustice. Half a century dedicated to social justice and gender equality and the mission goes on.
Text: Aina Valldaura