Inspired by the Gandhian philosophy of Gram Swaraj, or 'self-rule', a group of residents of Dimili village (Kotturu Mandal, Srikakulam District) and other area social activists founded the Bapuji Rural Enlightenment and Development Society (BREDS) in 1983. The activists' goal was to serve the most marginalized, vulnerable rural communities and focus on their socio-economic betterment through empowerment and sustainable livelihood promotion. Initially, BREDS opened night schools specializing in adult education. These volunteer-supported classes targeted Adivasis (tribal people) and members of 'Other Backwards Castes' (OBCs) in Dimili and nearby villages. The organization continued to evolve over the next two decades and work with other target populations, but BREDS has experienced its greatest growth from 2001 until today.
Through a combination of teamwork, commitment, strong leadership, government support, and donor participation, BREDS is now recognised as one of the best NGOs in our district of Srikakulam. The organisation has expanded in a number of ways ? we are now working in a larger area, with more community members on a variety of projects. Most importantly, we have achieved these goals by gaining the trust of the communities in which we work. During 1996-7, BREDS worked in 33 villages with about 3,000 families; at present, we have the opportunity to work in 445 villages with over 20,500 families towards BREDS goal of sustainable development for the community.
Fired by the twin ideas of cooperation and self-help, BREDS aims to make the target populations aware of their rights and choices, enabling them to control local bodies as policymakers at the grassroots level. In the future, we plan to continue serving vulnerable rural populations while creating innovative strategies for meeting their changing needs.