Empowerment, not charity

Empowerment, not charity

With a zero-waste policy, education of under-privileged children and rural upliftment initiatives, Christ University's Centre For So

Empowerment, not charity

Centre for Social Action (CSA) is an NGO within Christ University. Since 1999, when it was set up, CSA believes in churning out a sensitised and empathetic student community.

They believe that their students will contribute to sustainable changes in the society and marshal on with numerous projects and programmes that start with awareness.

The Rotary Club recently lauded CSA with the ‘Best NGO in the Field of Waste Management, Bangalore’ award.

Zero-waste policy

A campus of 14,000 students lets zero-waste get out of its boundaries. CSA has triggered a movement of awareness and practice in the campus.

Starting from educating its students to allowing them the choice to take a small step towards segregating their waste into wet and dry, they have taken waste management to a whole new level.

With a paper recycling unit, waste composting unit and a biogas conversion unit all placed within the campus, they have set an example in self-management of waste.

All departments at the university set about conducting talks and programmes, to raise awareness about the dire consequences of the piling waste.

“Every semester, we take classes at the waste management centre in the campus. I see how most of our students shy away from the stench at the composting unit, but there are many more of them asking me how they can be a part of it. Seeing the women at the recycling unit segregating waste, and salvaging everything that can be recycled, is an eye opener,” says Professor Nanjundappa.

All the paper waste from the university goes into Parivarthan, the paper recycling unit. The wet waste is composted and used as manure for the campus gardens.

The biogas conversion unit provides up to four hours of fuel for the canteen kitchens. Even the water from the drains are treated and used to water and maintain the sprawling gardens in the campus.

The first thing CSA did was to place two bins, one for wet waste and the other for dry waste, at every corner of the campus. Says Namitha, a BA student at the university, “It is easy to follow and the least that we can do to contribute to the cause.”

Parivarthan provides employment for over fifty men and women from slums in the City.

This waste management unit puts up stalls in the campus every few months, selling its products like hand-made paper, notebooks, photo frames and files, that are of endless use to the students, staff and the offices. 

Education of under-privileged kids

Three slums in the city - LR Nagar & Koramangala, Ambedkar Nagar &
Janakiram, and Lingarajpuram - were adopted by CSA, under the ‘Educate a Child’ initiative.

With a small contribution from every student, it is a flagship movement in the university.

“In the past 2 to 3 years we have raised 2.5 million. This year we have funded the education of 650 children,” says Johny Joseph, CSA Director. 

The students not only fund the education of these underprivileged children, but also pay attention to their growth.

CSA has set up Activity Centres in all the slums where student volunteers from the university teach and conduct workshops for the children every evening.

Johny explains, “Computer education and English are much needed in our times. So, CSA tries to make them both accessible to these children. Some of the kids show an interest in sports, so, CSA recently brought in a couple of boys to train in football at the university, with their own students.

“CSA said that as a class we can adopt a few children and manage their education. All we did was make a small financial contribution. Within a month, our class notice board had the information of five children whose education we were funding,” said Sourav Mukherjee, a Christ University alumnus.

To this day, he continues to be a CSA volunteer and now wants to take CSA to his colleagues.

Rural upliftment

CSA also works with backward villages developing Child Focused Communities. It is currently working with 14 villages in and around Hoskote, Karnataka and 15 villages in Adilabad district, Telangana.

Believing in empowerment, rather than charity, CSA helps set up self-help groups and vocational training centres to educate the rural communities in these regions.

Narrates Johny, “When we started out 8 to 9 years ago, the women of these
villages were very meek and would not even share their problems with us. Now they have their own federation that they manage. The women themselves are the board of directors and give out loans and manage finances!”

He continues, “We start out with complete support and slowly withdraw from the villages after a few years once the community becomes self-sufficient.”

With the philosophy, that today’s students will grow up and affect positive change, at its core, CSA is battling on taking one step at a time, and it has begun with sensitising them towards the issues that burden the society.