Help to self-help and social development

Our time here in Auroville is soon over and our communication projects have been completed and presented and now it only has to bee handed in and delivered to the different organizations. In the beginning of our visit here we went out on a lot of field trips and met inspiring people and organizations and listened to them discussing their work on sustainable development. The interesting thing was to witness so many different angles on this issue and see how it works in daily life. One organization that made an impact on me was the design studio Upasana – Integral Design. This organization also became the one I worked with during our time here in Auroville. Upasana is a big organization in the way that they work with many projects on different levels. They are an organization that mix fashion, design, social responsibility, Indian culture and business under one roof. They started of as a design studio in 1997 and aimed towards expressing the different textile cultures that exist throughout the Indian states. However, as the tsunami struck the western coast of India in 2004 and many other parts in south east Asia, Upasana ventured into the field of social development and decided to incorporate social responsibility as a value in their daily work. This made them launch their first social project named Tsunamika. This was made to be a trauma counseling effort for the victims but it also created tsunamika dolls to be given in an attempt to bring comfort to the victims of the tsunami and its relatives. The projects was a success and became known worldwide. There was also the nice thought behind it that they stressed the fact that the dolls was supposed to be given and not sold which enhanced both its emotional value as well as its spread throughout the world

 

After this project Upasana continued to launch different programs as the years passed. The value of self-development became stronger and stronger and Upasana keeps referring back to its focus on people and development of the supreme self. This social-sustainability is of great value in vulnerable regions such as this one. The big focus on this issue was a great reason for why I felt a strong urge to work with this organization. To enable an environment where people are given help to self-help is something that is greatly discussed in today’s development work. This issue is a core factor in keeping development sustainable and long term in regions like this. Upasana has several projects that works to enable this kind of environment both for farmers throughout the region, weavers in Varanasi and different craftsmen in the coastal town of Tranquebar. They help them to either restore their former livelihood that has been taken from them after the tsunami in 2004 or just to keep their livelihood up and running and helping them to stay in business. Help to self-help gives opportunity for social development and a greater knowledge base in the world. Without a population with these opportunities and characteristics we can not hope for any change in the world and that is why this issue can not be stressed enough and why Upasanas work is of such great value in many aspects.

/ Daniel Ahlm, Linneaus University

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