February 2017 Kalyan Akkipeddi belongs to the fast spreading clan of young educated Indians who are making the world a better place… merely by awakening to their life’s purpose. Just a day after his 30th birthday, Kalyan, a Masters in Accountancy from the University of Nevada, resigned from his well-paying corporate job to make each day of his life count. He realised that he has the next 30 years or roughly around 11,000 days to be productive, and walk his talk of ‘doing something for the people’. He packed his bags and spent the next two-and-a-half years travelling through rural India, depending upon the inherent goodness of the village folk who warmly shared their meals and roofs with him. Kalyan, hailing from Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh, visited tribal communities and witnessed how their self-sufficiency made them happy. And this shifted his focus from devising ways to eliminate poverty to creating opportunities for the free flow of abundance. Because, in his words, “That sounded a lot more empowering to me than removing something that I did not even understand.” What followed was a literal homecoming – he bought about 12.5 acres of land in Tekulodu village of Anantpur, worked along with some of the farming families, and is now on his way to building a completely self-sufficient community, named ProtoVillage; a demonstrative rural community that is ecologically sustainable, socially cohesive and economically viable, built by the villagers, for the villagers. In this journey of eight years so far, Kalyan has managed to simplify his life so much that he doesn’t need much money to live by. The whole ProtoVillage project is crowd-funded, ably aided by Kalyan’s wife, and his friends and families who take up volunteer projects like tree plantation, providing solar water-pump, and so on. Today, ProtoVillage is self-reliant in terms of energy generation (solar plant, wind turbines, and bio-gas plant), apart from being Wi-Fi enabled, and has a consistent source of water. Members of ProtoVillage grow their own food as much as possible. Experts who are keen to share their expertise and knowledge for this community development work are routinely welcomed. Talking about his journey so far, Kalyan says, “The biggest challenge I faced was myself, my own imaginary hurdles. I don’t consider anything outside as a big challenge because you will always find a way. I have a simple dream and I am super committed to it. I live very happily now, thanks to the people I met and their generosity. That’s enough to keep me going for a lifetime.” www.protovillage.org
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