Our mission is to build capacity of rural society through thoughtful, community-led programmes in livelihoods, empowerment, health & environment, and local governance.
It was a long day. Jayashree Rao, proprietrix of her own company J.R. Rao & Co. was on her way back home having made Rs. 1 Lakh in profit over a single deal. 25 years ago, she never thought this day would come. All her hard work, her perseverance, her ability to think 20 steps ahead of any one else, her visionary management style that was inclusive of everyone one in the company, her love for making money. She knew all this contributed to the success she was enjoying today.
She sat in her chauffeur driven car. Beaming with pride. They stopped at her usual ‘sabzi walla’. She bought some fresh coriander leaves. The vegetable vendor asked her for Rs. 20. ‘Rs.20?!’ She exclaimed, ‘give it for Rs. 15’. he agreed. Packed the coriander and handed it over. As Jayashree relaxed back in her car seat, proud, yet again, of her bargaining expertise she paused. Then with horror she realized the irony of what she had just done. She thought ‘what I had done with much less effort than the vegetable vendor means I could earn one lakh in a day and I was not ready to let this poor vegetable vendor make Rs. 5 extra. How much had our family prospered because of the booming economy and people like this vegetable vendor had got nothing. I felt ashamed of myself and decided to never again bargain with vegetable or fruit vendors’. Yet this experience persisted to stay in her thoughts. Nearly 50 years ago she had encountered Initiatives of Change and maintained a practice of listening in silence to her inner promptings and writing down her thoughts. ‘I persistently started getting a thought’ she says, ‘ that I need to do something to give back to people in the villages.' These seeds of thought sprouted into the formation of Grampari, an NGO that would seek to apply the philosophy of Initiatives of Change to rural development.
The farmland on Initiatives of Change India's Campus that was converted to Grampari's base
Grampari, Grameen Va Pariyavaran Kendra has built a successful model of sustainable long term development through effective behavioural change. If you spend a day with Grampari you may be impressed by our work spring box development, livelihood programs, or other innovative projects, but what may come as a surprise is to find our staff sitting with village communities, men, women, and children, with their eyes closed and reflecting on how they can change as individuals.
The reason that our work has transformed villages economically and environmentally is because we have helped facilitate behavioural change. The practice of Inner Listening forms the fulcrum of the Grampari model. Through this practice, villagers have repaired broken relationships, given up addictions, and invested themselves in village development. The story of Grampari is really the story about the extraordinary power of inner listening to bring about deep change in human beings as well as long lasting sustainable development.
After 12 years, Grampari has impacted 158 villages and 30,000 people. We have developed robust programmes in the areas of livelihoods, watershed management, school handwash, governance, and youth. Our Grampari Adopted Villages programme brings all of these facets to villages in an integrated way. We work with the understanding that the practice of being guided by inner listening, having clarity of vision and always keeping the community at the centre can create extraordinary change.
Vivar villagers and Grampari staff discuss the work that needs to be done in the village
Zarewadi villagers sit together for quiet time prior to a Gram Sabha (village meeting)
Akhegani villagers contribute their time to building a reed bed wastewater filtration system
Schoolchildren learn proper how to properly wash their hands through song