Donors urged to step forward as HEAL aims to lift 10,000 out of poverty

HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru talks to some of the senior residential boys at HEAL Paradise Village

HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru talks to some of the senior residential boys at HEAL Paradise Village

A NEW world-class university, training for unskilled workers from urban slums and a rehabilitation centre for child amputees are all high on the agenda for HEAL (Health and Education for All) as it again underlined its mission to lift 10,000 children out of poverty by 2020.

Underpinned by its ethos of providing education for the most downtrodden and vulnerable young people in Indian society, HEAL, run entirely by volunteers, continues to set far-reaching goals to match the lofty ambition of its flagship project, HEAL Paradise Village.

Under the guidance of its founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru, a UK-based doctor originally from Vijayawada, HEAL received an anonymous donation of £100k to purchase 10 acres of rural wasteland near the tiny village of Thotapalli in the Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh.

Children playing at HEAL Paradise Village

Children playing at HEAL Paradise Village

Inside four years, the site has been transformed into a thriving, eco-friendly educational campus with the capacity to provide accommodation and educational facilities for 1,000 orphaned, destitute and underprivileged children when completed.

The Koneru Lalitha & Rama Krishna Rao Secondary School, dedicated to the HEAL founder’s parents, has already been open since June 2014, while a preschool, primary school, vocational skills centre and institute for the visually challenged are close to completion.

The planned university, and schemes like the Urban Slum Skills Development Programme, are seen as a natural progression by the forward-thinking Dr Prasad, who registered HEAL as a charity 23 years ago.

HEAL Paradise Village

A view of HEAL Paradise Village, including, from left, preschool and primary school, children’s dorms and secondary school

“I’m thrilled that what we have been aiming for is fast becoming a reality,” he said. “And once we develop our new HEAL University campus we can increase our capacity for these kind of skills development courses.

“In two years’ time we’ll have 10th Class leavers from Paradise, so we can seamlessly use that time to put the structure in place for these children to progress further, while at the same time we can help all our neighbours to raise their standard of living.

“This falls within our aspirations to make children from poor and deprived backgrounds employable, or self-employed, once they have finished school, so we will not need to digress from our own objectives.

“We already have a group of Intermediate boys living here who are going every day to college. We will open up our dorms to more and more of these new students, a large proportion of which will be girls.

“Our Paradise Village campus will be complete in time for the start of the academic year in 2018 and we look forward to reaching capacity of 1,000 residents here. Children from other HEAL projects at Guntur, Kanuru and Bhadrachalam, in Telangana state, can also attend here to complete their education.

Children at HEAL Paradise Village

Children at HEAL Paradise Village

“By the end of next year, we will have finished all infrastructure, then we will begin construction on the university at the beginning of 2017 and aim to finish the bulk of the construction work in two years. We will then have another 36-acre campus to work with.

“Before that, we still have to finish Phase II of our Paradise complex – staff quarters, a state-of-the-art health centre – incorporating an artificial limb centre through our partnership with ELoH (Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope) – admin building, recreational sports centre and senior volunteers residence by 2017. We should have virtually finished everything in the Village by then.

“That leaves us firmly on target to achieve our goal of lifting 10,000 children out of poverty by 2020.”

But Dr Prasad admits that additional funding is needed to allow HEAL to reach that target, particularly urgent being the need for good quality accommodation to help attract the best teachers to Paradise.

An artist's impression of the new health centre at Paradise Village, part of the Phase II construction

An artist’s impression of the new health centre at Paradise Village, part of the Phase II construction

“We can only achieve our goals through the generosity of our donors and the next crucial step will be how to raise funds to achieve some of these upcoming infrastructure projects, especially the staff quarters, the need for which will be become increasingly urgent as we take on more and more students,” he said.

“I would appeal to anyone thinking of investing in a brighter future for India to come and visit us at Paradise Village and see and experience for themselves just what is being achieved.

“Once they witness for themselves the transformation being made in this rural wilderness and have a chance to meet and interact with our wonderful HEAL children, I am confident they will be moved and inspired to contribute to our work.

“They will be amazed that all this has been achieved by only a small team of volunteers who work tirelessly in countries like the UK, USA and here in India to give hope of a new life to thousands of impoverished children who, through no fault of their own, have become victims of a cruel poverty trap.

“As we have no paid administration staff, our donors, sponsors and fundraisers can be content in the knowledge that all monies raised go to the benefit of our children, bringing the best possible outcome for them, their communities and future generations.”

To learn more about HEAL Paradise Village visit our sister website at www.healparadise.org.