HEAL – The Journey

HEAL Paradise Village

The Stirring: It all started nearly five decades ago when a teen-aged medical student in Guntur, a large town in Andhra Pradesh State in India, was touched by the sights of misery and deprivation being experienced by people in poverty around where he lived. This stirring in Satya Prasad Koneru led to the first step in organizing Praja Seva Samithi (People Service Society) along with his fellow medical students and like-minded friends and peers. It was 1967. A sapling had been planted. It took a year to gather enough spare cash to register the organization as a society for helping the poor and from there the concept took concrete shape in setting up a medical centre for slum dwellers, book-banks and midday meals for poor students, and a rehabilitation centre for the visually impaired and the disabled. The young man’s inspiration to serve and to achieve impressed many around him and it encouraged him to take it up as his life’s mission.

HEAL UK: In 1976, Dr Prasad travelled from India to the UK to hone his skills further as a medical practitioner. After completing further training in the UK through the National Health Service, he set up a family health practice in 1981, in one of the UK’s most deprived areas. With his concern for the underprivileged and a strong desire ‘to make a difference’, Dr Prasad decided to deliver his services as a doctor to the people that would benefit from them the most. He recognised that people’s needs are the same, regardless of the specific country that they live in, and so continued his original mission in the UK – and it is here that the first HEAL (Health and Education for All) charity organisation was formed and was registered in 1992. Several empathetic volunteers started giving him a helping hand to take this movement forward.

HEAL India: Next, Dr Prasad wanted to create a base to continue his original work back in his home country and thus HEAL India was established in 1993. The first project was started with the donation of his family home ‘Ankitha’ in Guntur to HEAL India to establish an orphanage. This first orphanage was home to 26 children for about five years, until the first custom-built HEAL Children’s Village was created in a nearby village. Today HEAL Children’s Village is a home and a health-care centre for 225 children, accompanied by 16 house mothers. HEAL USA (2008), HEAL Australia (2014), and HEAL Spain (2015) were established in order to widen the HEAL family. The aim was to spread awareness and encourage more people to be involved in this laudable effort. There was a need to widen the sphere of contributors, offer opportunities to philanthropic minds to give a meaning to their concerns, develop further resources and attract donations to support the work of HEAL. Today, HEAL is an international charity, registered in each of these individual countries with tax exemption status. It is unique in comparison to most large charities in that HEAL is entirely run by volunteers. This means that there are NO administration costs, so the money received from donors goes directly towards the projects.

Dr Satya Prasad Koneru

Dr Satya Prasad Koneru

The Mission: HEAL is a family and believes that all mankind has a right to seek equal opportunities. HEAL is committed to providing health and education to all children in its care, with the strong belief that education is the best tool for children and their families to escape from the ‘poverty trap’. Maintaining good health is a prerequisite to achieve any goal. When a child is taken into a HEAL project, he or she joins the HEAL family – surrounded by nurturing love and care the same as one would give to one’s own children. All HEAL children will continue to be supported until they are able to stand on their own two feet themselves in society. HEAL currently has well over 1,000 children in its care and aspires to raise this number to 10,000 by 2020.

Projects across the state of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana:
HEAL Children’s Village, near Guntur, is currently home to 225 children and HEAL provides healthcare and education to them all.
HEAL-Makineni Health Centre, Chodavaram, Guntur, provides healthcare for 300 children of local farmers and quarry labourers.
HEAL Model School, Bhadrachalam, in Telangana State, is supported by HEAL, who provide school fees, uniforms, books and lunches for 300 of the most needy children in this remote rural area.
ASNRAZPH School, in Kanuru, Vijayawada, receives support from HEAL for 500 underprivileged children living in a deprived area, and will continue to strive for excellence.
HEAL Paradise Village, at Thotapalli, near Gannavaram Airport of Vijayawada City, is HEAL’s most recent and ambitious project to date and is already developing into a showpiece educational establishment.

The HEAL Paradise Village is built on a 27-acre site next to the village of Thotapalli at a scenic location, adjoining a picturesque land surrounded by hillocks, paddy fields, lake and gardens. This will become home and a holistic learning centre for 1,000 children-orphans and the most underprivileged and uncared-for children from across India. In addition, the Village will be a homogenous residential community, with staff and volunteers living together with the children. Construction of Phase I is due for completion by the end of December 2015 and Phase II by the end of 2016.  Once completed, the village will create a safe haven for the most vulnerable children of India to be nurtured to their full potential under loving care from the HEAL family. HEAL is also committed to establishing a self-sustaining and mutually beneficial community with the best available methods to minimize resource usage and reduce and recycle waste. Paradise Village will comprise of four distinct kinds of spaces:
* LIVING,
* LEARNING,
* HEALING,
* RECREATIONAL.

HEAL Paradise Secondary School

Phase I of the Village is nearing completion. This phase includes learning and living spaces for boys and girls from preschool through to secondary school, as well as specialised learning spaces for vocation-oriented skills development and an institute for the visually impaired.

The first building to reach completion was the Koneru Lalitha & Rama Krishna Rao Secondary School which welcomed its first intake of children in June 2014. This building facilitates a variety of different learning environments besides the spacious and airy classrooms, which include a computer lab, a hobby and craft centre, science labs and virtual classroom and an open-air atrium.

Also completed is The Hans Foundation Dormitory for Boys. This building provides accommodation for 414 boys on the first and second floors. After the opening of the school wing this academic year, 200 children are now housed there, along with their house masters. On the ground floor is the campus dining hall which can seat up to 750 children and staff at one time. This space can also be used flexibly as an assembly hall or as an examination hall. A modern kitchen, supported by solar power and hygienic cooking facilities, is an adjunct to the dining hall.

The Rajeswari Dormitory for Girls, also supported by principal partners The Hans Foundation will soon become home to 526 girls, as well as providing living space for 14 female staff and volunteers. The design of this building also includes flexible learning and recreational spaces.

The Phanendra Chunduri Institute for the Visually Impaired, will soon become a learning space for the schooling and vocational training of 100 visually impaired children. Facilities will include a low- vision lab, Braille computer lab & printing facility and sensory gardens.

HEAL Paradise Institute for the Visually Challenged

The Ramaseshamma & Kotaiah Chunduri Skill Development Centre, is also ready for use and will provide annual vocation-related training to 900 students in 10 different courses, such as electrical installation, plumbing, welding, carpentry, computer repairs, electronics, tailoring and computerised embroidery, para-medical and artificial limb technician training. HEAL will also work closely with government agencies to develop an Urban Slum Skills Development Programme.

The Jasti Kameswari Preschool & HEAL Primary School are due for completion in 2015. This building includes facility for 160 children below five years of age to receive modern preschool education, in addition to primary education learning spaces for 300. Further, there will be living accommodation for 60 orphaned children under five years of age and for a caring house mother for every 10 children.

Phase II of the Village, planned for completion by December 2016, will include healing spaces such as the Navaratna Siromani Bellam Health Centre and Elizabeth Panton HEAL Artificial Limb Centre, the Pinnamaneni Dasaradha Ramaiah & Sarojini Devi Seniors Residence, as well as more living spaces for staff and guests, an indoor sports stadium for the children and an administration building.
HEAL Paradise Village envisages eco-friendly practices, such as:
* Solar powered energy
* Bio waste converted to fuel
* Organic food farming
* Grey and rain water harvesting
* Industrial waste used for construction

HEAL Paradise children

Backing the Journey: Donors, sponsors, volunteers, supporters, media, government, friends and well- wishers – all are backing this Journey. The merit is in the good deed – backing it is the innate good sense in every human being. HEAL is helped at every step by this spirit and with this confidence, HEAL looks forward to the road ahead with enthusiasm and a sense of fulfilment.

The Journey of HEAL has so far been a great, rewarding experience not only for the inspired Founder, but also the numerous volunteers, contributors and, more importantly, the beneficiaries. All the trials and tribulations experienced on this journey vanish when one looks at the beaming faces of the young and promising children who are the most valued members of this unique Family of HEAL. What remains and sustains is the happy feeling that this Journey is full of lasting rewards for all.

What lies ahead on the Journey?
HEAL Paradise Village takes shape as a model to be replicated in many rural settings of India, bringing hope and opportunity to the many bright and sharp-witted but indigent children of our society waiting to be discovered – ‘the diamonds in the rough’.
HEAL is inspired by the warm and ready response from caring members of society who are keen to be a part of this Journey. Setting its sights higher, HEAL now plans to establish a dedicated HEAL University to serve and to motivate orphaned and underprivileged children to reach their full potential; not merely escape from the ‘poverty trap’, but excel in what they do and set an example to all. Each one, in his or her turn, will lead and ‘light a thousand lamps’.
The Journey goes on…