Project Jatropha

Trust. Collaboration. Action

United We Stand: for Environmental Protection, Sustainability, Preventive Health Care and Alleviation of Poverty

Ashoka Youth Venture (AYV) is an international nonprofit organization which invests in and inspires teams of youth to design and launch their own lasting social ventures, enabling them to have a transformative experience of leading positive social change. Over six thousand Venturers based in twenty-three countries have found community-benefiting initiatives, clubs, businesses, civil society organizations, and informal programs that address social issues including poverty, health care, the environment, education, diversity, and the arts. AYV provide up to $1000 of seed funding to projects that meet their standards, in addition to substantial guidance, tools, and a comprehensive and experienced support network that give advice and mentoring.

The first step was to secure seed funds to launch this program. In the early 2009, Ashoka Youth Venture was accepting applications for a $1000 seed grant from Bay Area youth who wished to launch social ventures. We came up with a detailed project plan for adopting rural schools, choosing Somana Halli Higher Primary school from Hunsur, India and the Eglise de Dieu School from Haiti. We defended our proposal in front of a community panel and subsequently were awarded the seed grant for our 2010 Adopt a Rural School program.

Adopt a Rural School in India Program

First Model: Somana Halli Higher Primary School in Hunsur, South India

A Collaboration between Project Jatropha, Talent High School from Hunsur, India and Somana Halli Higher Primary (Elementary) School from Hunsur India.

During our 2010 summer visit, we successfully launched our program in our first model school. Through meetings with the science and humanities teachers, we realized that the students needed a more hands-on learning experience as an integral part of their science curriculum. Working with the staff, we compiled a list of appropriate books and bought various supplies and simple hands-on science kits that are useful to children. In addition, we visited local nurseries and purchased several teak, mango, guava, and pongamia plants for the school’s orchard.

Through our Advisory council member Mr. Basavaraju, we held meetings with the cofounder and Head of Talent school in Hunsur, Mr. Naveen Rai and the school’s student leaders. We convinced them to be our collaborators by becoming our anchor school. As their school is in close proximity to Somana Halli School, they volunteered to join us on the big day of planting. They also took the responsibility of overseeing the maintenance of the garden by frequent visits to the school in our absence.

August 2010 was a special month for the students and teachers of both Somana Halli and Talent School. We had special assemblies at the Somana Halli premises, during which we presented the science kits and books to the teachers. With the students from both schools, we dug pits and planted the saplings in the school premises. The teachers divided the children into small groups, and we explained the significance of the tree planting. Each group of students was given the responsibility to take care of a specific group of plants, and the kids took up their ownership with enthusiasm. As we mingled with the kids and established long lasting friendship, their energy and love for life were infectious, and we were genuinely sad to leave at the end of our work. But we assured the students that we’d be back again next year to see the progress. True to their word, the students have maintained the fruit orchard, which continues to give them fresh fruit as well as shade. And every year, whenever we visit, we’re greeted with the same joyous shouts we heard the first time we came.

We would like to give our sincere thanks to Amy Wilson, Ravi Mistry, and John Granados of Ashoka Youth Venture for all their help, support, and timely advice. Finally, we would like to thank Ashoka Youth Venture for providing us the seed grant, mentoring, and support we needed to accomplish this mission.

The Second Model In Haiti: The Eglise de Dieu School

The Sirona Cares Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of the children in Haiti. Our project sponsor, Michelle Lacourciere, Director of the foundation works to provide the children the basic necessities to thrive like nutrition, access to clean water, clothing, shelter, and medicines. After the devastating January 2010 earthquake, living conditions were dismal. Cholera epidemics and other health concerns such as malnutrition were confronting the children. In order to help, we chose to adopt the Eglise de Dieu school at L’Asile, Haiti, which housed four hundred children. We collaborated under the leadership of Michelle Lacourciere with the director of the school to establish a fruit orchard in the school’s garden plot to be managed by the students. L’Azile had fertile land, and we were confident that the children would benefit greatly from the school garden. We provided $500 of funding granted by the Ashoka Youth Venture for the purchase and planting of fruits and vegetables seedlings.The local farmers assisted with the garden set-up and training, but the entire community has worked together to support the garden since then. As a result, fruits and vegetables grown there have become an integral part of students’ diet.

Thank you Ashoka Youth Venture for your support and guidance.