When foreign trips have become a common practice for college students, AIMS Institute of Higher Education attempted a unique project by sending students to visit India's rural pockets for case studies. The rural camp was conducted at Cheedchikkanahalli village in Chikballapur District.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, AIMS Institute for Higher Education COO Priyanandan Reddy said the rural camp was preceded by three weeks of preparation and a pilot study visit was conducted in three villages like Aglagurkhi, Kuppali and Cheedchikanahalli villages for the identification of camp site. "As per the analysis of socio-economic survey, Cheedchikkanahalli village was identified to be the most remote among the three. Despite being in close proximity to Bengaluru and Kempegowda International Airport, Cheedchikkanahalli had lack of social awareness which hindered its development. The literacy rate of the village was poor and the growth of primary government school was stagnant," he said.
AIMS Registrar Dr Sheri Kurian said the first thing that struck the students was the cleanliness factor. "Hence, the camp focused on bringing about health and hygiene awareness. Students cleared the garbage on the road. This motivated the villagers to get involved with the students. The participatory rural appraisal (PRA) approach was used to incorporate knowledge and opinions of rural people in the planning and management of development programmes," said Kurian.
Anitha.B, Programme Manager (Dept. of Social work), said the camp concentrated on sensitising the villagers to bring about behavioural and attitude change. "It used collective knowledge and wisdom to empower people. There was an overwhelming response from the villagers about their village development," she said.
The students were overwhelmed by their village project.
Karthik Raj, an AIMS student, said his perception about community and people changed after the visit. "Understanding the community dynamics is something that I need to work on to become a professional social worker," said Karthik.
Another student Nikita Dangol said, "The exposure to the rural life and living was a new learning experience for me who has lived all my life in a city. The love and affection showered by the villagers made me appreciate innocence and humanitarian value that still binds the society together."
Indulekha Maneyil, Asst. Professor, Dept of Social Work, AIMS, said villages were the best way to get away from the noise of city life and experience the full meaning of life.