OUR STORY

Why and How it started?

dJED Foundation is a Section 8 Company (‘not-for-profit’), with a wide range of objectives, particularly ecological conservation, education and sustainable livelihoods. It was earlier called Vanvadi Forest Eco-versity Association (VanFEVA). 

 

It was conceptualised by Dilip Jain when he became a member of Vanvadi Forest, which is nestled in the foothills of the Sahyadris, located between Chinchwadi and Vare villages, about 10 km from Neral Station. He received heartwarming support from other Vanvadi members who allowed us to use a serene part of the vast and beautiful forest where our first ‘Learning by Doing Programme’ was conducted.

 

dJED Foundation is assisting the indigenous tribal communities of Chinchwadi Adivasi village so that individuals can learn from and support one another in satisfying their diverse needs and realizing their creative ambitions, all while working together to address their challenges in an environmentally conscious manner. We do this through learning programs integrated with field projects.


dJED Foundation aspires to create a network of alternative ‘Learning by Doing’ centres that work locally to address the world's major environmental concerns, such as dwindling freshwater availability, loss of food sovereignty and security, and increasing biodiversity loss, all by empowering local inhabitants. Towards this aim, we have organized and hosted several events, activities, workshops, and gatherings, primarily of an ecological and educational nature, which have received widespread acclaim and encouraging media coverage.

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Photo by @rayyanmonkey

A Gandhian dream of Gram Swaraj that we wish to achieve

An ideal Indian village will be so constructed as to lend itself to perfect sanitation. It will have cottages with sufficient light and ventilation built of a material obtainable within a radius of five miles of it. The cottages will have courtyards enabling householders to plant vegetables for domestic use and to house their cattle. The village lanes and streets will be free of all avoidable dust. It will have wells according to its needs and be accessible to all. It will have houses of worship for all, also a common meeting place, a village common for grazing its cattle, a co-operative dairy, primary and secondary schools in which industrial education will be the central fact, and it will have Panchayats for settling disputes. It will produce its grains, vegetables and fruit, and its own Khadi. This is roughly my idea of a model village... I am convinced that the villagers can, under intelligent guidance, double the village income as distinguished from individual income. There are in our villages' inexhaustible resources not for commercial purposes in every case but certainly for local purposes in almost every case. The greatest tragedy is the hopeless unwillingness of the villagers to better their lot.

My ideal village will contain intelligent human beings. They will not live in dirt and darkness as animals. Men and women will be free and able to hold their own against anyone in the world.

As Gandhiji himself said, “I know that the work (of shaping the ideal village) is as difficult as to make India an ideal country... But if one can produce one ideal village, he will have provided a pattern not only for the whole country but perhaps for the whole world. More than this a seeker may not aspire after.”

Essence and Inspiration behind dJED

dJED (d is silent:) is an ancient Egyptian symbol that means stable, centered, balanced & harmonious. The symbol relates to God Osiris and represents one who is governed by higher self i.e Will and is resurrected and awakened. It is an ability of evolution.

 

DJ is the initials of Dilip's Dad, Danmal Jain who is his inspiration, given his simple living and high thinking.

 

Dilip Jain’s Dad (Danmal Jain) and Mom (Reshma Jain)

Shilpa Mehta’s Dad (Shantilal Mehta) and Mom (Vimla Mehta)

Dilip’s teachers - Yaron Barzilay (New Acropolis) and Sonam Wangchuk (Ladakh)

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3E - Philosophy of our work

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  1. Environment - Work on ecological regeneration of the region including rainwater harvesting, soil & biodiversity conservation, afforestation, etc.

  2. Education - Conduct eco-educational programs by bringing rural/ tribal and urban participants together to learn, share and promote a sustainable way of living

  3. Entrepreneurship - Provide grass root support to nearby communities on various fronts, including ecologically sustainable livelihood opportunities … so that they value, conserve and regenerate their abundant natural resources … and can be locally self-reliant for their needs, instead of migrating to cities as refugees

Impact we want to make

Our formula for impact is 10*10*10. For every 10 youth that we train, through intensive engagement, we target to impact 100 people in local villages with whom we work and 1000 people from the city who come to volunteer/ attend various short programs.

Why this path?

While humankind may have progressed enormously in various industrial technologies over the last few hundred years, it is useless if the whole - nature-community symbiosis is not taken care of. The current economical & social system has gravely breached ecological planetary boundaries; and it is now imperative for all of us to live in a sustainable way, just like a forest ecosystem which takes care of itself harmoniously & holistically.

 

Today, a huge amount of information can be easily accessed at the click of a button, but what is missing is wisdom - integral understanding and its practical application - for meeting basic biological, emotional, socio-cultural and spiritual needs in a healthy and sustainable way. Sadly, the lure of the modern consumerist lifestyle has further accelerated due to digital penetration, even in remote rural areas. As a result, we have seen in recent years a mass exodus of youth to cities, where they live like refugees, learning very little that is of relevance to their rural lives … to which they return as misfits. 

 

The rich heritage of indigenous communities is rapidly getting lost, and needs urgent protection, as it enables the most economical, ecological and socially harmonious way of community living, while respecting and safeguarding nature. The modern world can learn, adopt and adapt much from it … to effectively address the big challenges that humanity is facing!