Remembering 40 Years of AVAG: A Journey of Bioregional Development

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Four decades ago, in the fertile soil of Auroville, a tiny seed was sown as a humble initiative with a grand vision: to empower communities in the Auroville bioregion for holistic development. From a handful of settlements, our reach now pulsates across 80 communities, touching the lives of over 5,000 women, 3,000 children, and 1,000 young individuals. 

As Shivaraman, a youth from Sanjeevinagar, says ”AVAG knows to read the pulse of the communities and respond at the right time for collaborative development”. Yes, we stand with the communities during turbulent periods like cyclones, tsunamis, and the recent pandemic to facilitate faster recovery. 

Our office is fondly identified as a mother’s house by the women’s groups, where women are allowed to be on themselves without inhibitions. Their trust in us helped reduce the number of suicides among women from 10 to 0 or 1. “ I have been travelling with them for the past 35 years, and they look into the minute details and listen carefully to the voices of the people. As an elder of this area, I am the witness to testify to the impacts of AVAG on the lives of women, and it is impressive” says the best teacher awardee of our area, Seenu Venugopal.

 It's a celebration of the remarkable journey of women's empowerment, ignited by a small group of 68 women in 1995 and now encompassing over 5,000 across 275 women's groups. The Udhayam Women's Federation, a vibrant testament to their collective spirit, manages loans worth Rs.130 million, empowering women with financial independence and decision-making power.

AVAG's commitment extends beyond economics. As Anjalai, a 90-year-old woman from Bommayarpalayam says, “Collectively, we weave the tapestry of social integration and equity, fostering understanding and building bridges across communities”. 

Yet, AVAG recognizes the emerging gaps and new challenges like substance abuse among the youths, mental health issues leading to violence against women and children, and continued financial inclusion demands innovative solutions. As AVAG celebrates four decades of service, it remains steadfast in its core mission: to serve as a bridge between Auroville and its bioregion and build a more equitable and peaceful future for all.

As AVAG celebrates this momentous occasion, it expresses its deepest gratitude to our executives Alain Bernard and Abha for their commitment and dedication. The organization acknowledges the contributions of everyone who has played a role in shaping its journey. Stepping into the next chapter, AVAG remains open to feedback and invites continued support from individuals and institutions. 

 

Written by Nadia Akcadurak