captureWe see the emergence of many Voluntary Organizations – some say it is a mushroom growth – to share the responsibilities of Nation Building, through empowerment of the disadvantaged and the marginalized sections and their capacity building exercises. We also experience in our country a very lopsided and staggering growth of the rural as well as the socially and economically deprived people. Even after years of independence and planned development activities, the fruits of the efforts did not trickle down and disseminate to these poor. The quality  of life of the poor remains stagnant without any steady improvement.

p2The magnitude of the problems and challenges the Voluntary Organizations address in the rural areas are so vast that the effect is very insignificant and slow. Hence there is the need for both extensive and intensive interventions in the lives of the poor and the marginalized. We need a multiplication of helping hands and broader shoulders to collaborate and share the responsibilities of integrated, participatory and sustainable development and empowerment processes of the poor and the marginalized. All are called to contribute, according to their capacities, and share the responsibilities of community building processes, even if it is very meager. As Rabindranath Tagore puts it, “there are numerous strings in your lute; let me add my own among them” so that “into that haven of freedom, o Lord, let my country awake.”

p3We share the same goal of visionaries, forefathers and the development planners of our country. UNICEF envisions: “The day will come when Uttar Pradesh will be judged not by the military or economic strength nor by the splendor of its capital cities and public buildings but by the well being of its people; by their levels of health, nutrition and education; by the opportunities to earn a fair reward for their labor; by the ability to participate in the decisions that effect their lives; by the respect that is shown for their civil and political liberties; by the provision that is made for those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged; and by the protection that is afforded to the growing minds and bodies of their children.”

p4The CST (Congregation of St. Therese) Fathers of the Little Flower Congregation, who were working in the Districts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh since 1972 and were developing the Diocese of Gorakhpur, felt that there should be a separate Association for Community Empowerment and Social Services to coordinate various rural development activities and reach out to the most marginalized sections. The membership of such an Association is kept open to all likeminded people, irrespective of caste, creed, gender and other considerations. Thus an Association for Community Empowerment and Social Services was formed exclusively to cater to the needs of the poor and the marginalized rural people of Uttar Pradesh in April 1998 and this Association got registered in September 2001, under the Society’s Registration Act of 1860 with the name DISA (Development Initiatives by Social Animation). The area of operation of the Association is entire Uttar Pradesh. The experiences of the promoters of DISA count much in translating the dreams for an ideal society and we take initiatives, following their footprints. . We join with Mother Teresa to say: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

p5DISA views the present Social System, as it prevails in North India, as a system meant to perpetuate exploitation of the weaker sections of the Society. The existing system thrives on illiteracy, poverty, disease and many other socio-economic and cultural conditions. The ideology provides legitimacy to such a system. We witness to gross discriminations against the weaker sections, pushing them to further marginalization and rampant violation of human rights. Hence these people are cut off from the main stream of the Society. Restoring their dignity and upholding their rights shall be the means to create a new social order of human communities where the universal values of justice, equity, love, peace etc. will reign supreme. Hence DISA sets the goal of bringing a change in the social system so that the new order is integrated, participatory and sustainable based on the universal values of justice, equity and complete humanism.