Birth of the PUSHPA Mission

In the Spring of 2001, shortly after retirement, Franklin Gummadi visited Guntur, India, the home of his birth. While in Guntur, the region was beseiged by an unusually severe monsoon causing extensive flooding in the nearby West Godavari district. Franklin and several close friends took individual action to purchase and distribute much needed supplies throughout the flooded region. Thus began Franklin's work among the tribal people of rural India, a mission later to be known as PUSHPA.

Franklin was soon joined by his wife, Shirley, to promote self-help projects in developing communities near Guntur. They realized from the begining that significant change could only come from within the community, one person, one family at a time.

The PUSHPA Mission

 

The PUSHPA organization was created to promote self-confidence and collective responsibility among members of numerous marginalized communities in the Guntur region of India, with the goal of improving earning capabilities and learning potential.

 

A committee of elders in each village, including both men and woman, are selected by the community to initiate self-help projects and to encourage cooperation within the village. PUSHPA joins with the community to promote these initiatives.

 

Cooperation

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The PUSHPA name is an acronym that expresses the mission well: People Using Self Help to Push Ahead. 

 

To accomplish the mission, PUSHPA enlists the help of other non-governmental organizations, volunteers, and most importantly, the people of the community, to leverage PUSHPA's resources and accomplish more with less. On some projects, PUSHPA's effort has gained the attention of the Indian government, who has also provided additional funding.

The occupants of the villages in which PUSHPA works were previously dependant on the seasonal harvest for subsistence, traveling from field to field and living in temporary shelters. Encouraged by the government to settle into villages, these people were then faced with establishing a working community of mutual support and cooperation that would no longer be dependant solely on seasonal labor.

PUSHPA's vision for these people is to:

  • Transition from seasonal labor to sustainable jobs.

  • Transition from temporary shelter to permanent homes.

The Caste System and the PUSHPA villages

Though the Caste System was illegal in India by the time the tribal communities were settled, much of the caste prejudice remained, relegating the tribal people to a life of social and economic isolation. One goal of the PUSHPA mission is to help overcome these barriers to success by promoting increased confidence and higher expectations.

Transition to sustainable work

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Transition to permanent homes

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The PUSHPA mission begins in Ganapavaram

The video below provides a glimse of PUSHPA's early efforts in the village of Ganapavaram with an explanation of the mission by Franklin Gummadi (Andhra Pradesh as it was in 2007).