Consolidated Community Development Programme Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care’s focused initiatives have been helping the rural population overcome the vicious cycle of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment etc. and supporting them towards a self-reliant and prosperous existence. A new initiative in this direction is providing thrust to these goals. The Need 2020 brought forth one of the most unforeseen and unfortunate events in recent history – the COVID-19 pandemic. A ground-level survey conducted by Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care in Dharampur and nearby areas revealed that the entire village ecosystem had been destabilised. From farmers to women to the youth, everyone was suffering. There were no means to bind them together and promote a mindset of recovery. Impactful action was required to rebuild livelihoods and uplift these communities. A Multi-faceted Solution By the infinite grace of Param Krupalu Dev and visionary guidance of Pujya Gurudevshri was born the Consolidated Community Development Programme – an initiative that involves working closely with rural communities to enable their socio-economic upliftment and to develop the grass-root capacity of different stakeholders for sustained development. This initiative follows a streamlined, 3-step process: Connect, Understand and Empower. Volunteers establish meaningful connections with the selected village, nurturing trust and collaboration. Tools like Participatory Rural Appraisals are used to learn more about the village conditions and actively engage with community members, giving them an opportunity to share their insights. Thereafter, a detailed development plan is designed, targeting the empowerment of four key stakeholders within the village – local leaders, farmers, women and youth. Local Leaders: Close collaboration with the Sarpanch, who are the elected presidents of the local self-government, plays a crucial role in the success of the programme. These village leaders are given special training to improve their understanding of roles and responsibilities and are supported in the preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plans. Farmers: They form the backbone of the rural economy and are aided to improve their farm livelihood income through support measures, including training on soil and farming techniques, crop cultivation and by providing market connections; thereby enabling them to drive prosperity and growth in the village. Women: Recognising women as the pillars of societal development, financial management workshops are organised to encourage them to save and manage their money in a better way and to safeguard them from common digital frauds. Initiatives such as cloth and paper bag making and other livelihood models are implemented to promote sustainable livelihoods. Organic kitchen gardens assist women in enhancing their family’s self-sufficiency and nutrition. Youth: Seen as the future of the community, they are provided career-guidance sessions and access to libraries to promote learning, entrepreneurship and vocational training. Sports and special events are organised to encourage discipline, teamwork and leadership. The Consolidated Community Development Programme also focuses on awareness and linkage to various government schemes and social security benefits such as the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Widows Pension Scheme etc. The Plan in Action A transformative two-day capacity-building workshop was recently organised to empower village leaders and youth in enhancing village development. The training for village leaders and elected representatives focused on improving their leadership skills, with ASHA workers conducting a session on healthcare goals as well. Simultaneously, workshops for youth inspired them to contribute positively towards community development and assisted them in their personal growth too. Facilitated by Unnati, a non-profit organisation for development education, these workshops left a lasting impact on the participants. The sessions led to a shared commitment among participants to drive progress in their villages. The Consolidated Community Development Programme is currently working with nine villages comprising a population of 50,000. It is bringing about a profound transformation in the rural mindset, creating a ripple effect of positive change in the society!