In a world where corporate social responsibility has become increasingly important, organizations are taking practical bottom-up approaches to make a direct positive impact on communities.
Dholakia Foundation recently embarked on a transformative journey by immersing its new management team in the rural village of Dudhala, Amreli District, Gujarat. Led by the foundation’s founder himself, Savjibhai Dholakia, this initiative aimed to foster meaningful connections, revalidate the challenges faced by rural communities, and devise sustainable solutions for their upliftment.
The immersion experience was participated by the new management team together with 3 interns from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar Monika Jain, Vasu Pipal, and Akshith Goud.
The immersion took place in Dudhala, a water-scare village nestled amidst the serene landscapes of Gujarat. Savjibhai Dholakia, a visionary philanthropist known for his commitment to social causes, guided the team throughout the journey. The team members embraced the local customs, traditions, and way of life, immersing themselves fully in the rich culture of Dudhala where Savjibhai grew up.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by the community, the team engaged in open dialogues with the villagers, especially the women and the youth. They listened intently to the aspirations, concerns, and needs of the community members. Through these conversations, they discovered key areas requiring attention, such as water supply, education, and livelihood opportunities, among others.
Water scarcity has been a century-long problem of these remote communities. And the villagers acknowledged the tremendous help of Savjibahi’s constructed lakes in their daily life. Today, the said lakes give them enough sources of water, even during drought season. This is primarily important since the entire district is dependent on agriculture as a source of food and livelihood. They commend Savjibhai and the foundation’s initiative to augment the government in providing this basic human need: water.
Recognizing the transformative power of education, the Dholakia Foundation team was inspired to focus on improving learning systems for the young villagers. They observed firsthand the lack of adequate learning centers and the challenges to access learning resources, hence the high illiteracy rate among the young population. With the goal of institutionalizing alternative skills learning centers and producing skilled youths, the team conceptualized plans to establish community learning centers where children and youth acquire important life skills using innovative teaching methodologies.
Unemployment and limited income opportunities often plague rural areas, perpetuating a cycle of poverty. With a vision to break this cycle, the Dholakia Foundation team aspires to create sustainable livelihood opportunities for the villagers. They explored avenues for skill development programs, vocational training, and entrepreneurship initiatives. By empowering individuals, especially women, with the necessary skills and resources, they aimed to enable economic independence and uplift the standard of living in Dudhala and neighboring villages.
The immersion experience in Dudhala was not just a short-term engagement; it laid the foundation for long-term sustainable actions. The Dholakia Foundation's management team collaborated closely with the village leaders and community members to develop a comprehensive roadmap for transformation, piloting these villages for replication beyond. After understanding the philanthropic vision of Savjibhai who wants “to showcase to the world the importance of working on the environment”, they will work on establishing meaningful partnerships with local organizations, government bodies, and stakeholders to leverage collective resources and expertise.
The community immersion of the Dholakia Foundation's new management team marked a significant milestone in their journey towards empowering rural communities. By immersing themselves in the village's culture, understanding its challenges, and collaborating with local stakeholders, the team created a strong foundation for sustainable development.
The journey exemplified the power of corporate social responsibility and the commitment of individuals like Savjibhai Dholakia and his team to make a difference in the world.
“Through my work, I want to inspire people, especially future generations, in our country and other countries to also work and care for the environment.”
- Savjibhai Dholakia, Founder, Dholakia Foundation
in a conversation with new management team