Gandhi Today: The Story of Mahatma Gandhi's Successors

By Mark Shepard | Go to book overview
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7
Five Villages and Four Hundred

My soul refuses to be satisfied so long as it is a helpless witness of a single wrong or a single misery.

Gandhi

When I showed my photo of the hill tribesmen to Prem Bhai, head of the village development project called Agrindus Institute, his eyes took on a special glow. After a moment he said quietly, "You have really captured them."

I knew what he meant. The photo had caught the pride and strength that showed in the tribesmen's faces. In a way it was a tribute to Agrindus Institute. So many other development programs had sapped the initiative of their beneficiaries, leaving them in the role of helpless dependent.

Agrindus had created not dependents but partners. Instead of weakening their spirit, Agrindus was strengthening it.

That was one of the less tangible successes of Agrindus's program. The tangible successes had also been great. In fact, Agrindus was almost an anomaly in the field of village development -- a project that set ambitious goals, actually met them, and sometimes even surpassed them. As such, it was in the forefront of the growing number of small- and middle-size nongovernment development projects spread across India.

Today there are several hundred of these projects, many run by

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