ALFA Educational Society (the Alliance for Liberty, Fraternity, and Advancement) has been working in and around the village of Karawara since its inception in 2006. Founded by Lokesh Kalal, a lifelong resident of Karawara, ALFA is a genuinely local organization with long-standing roots in the community.
It is a village comprising of mixed communities so conflicts are common here. But the tensions became high when riots happened in Gujarat in 2002. Karawara is 3-5 Kilometers away from Gujarat by road. So when riots happened there were high chances of seeing the repercussions on this side. We gathered some youth, took action, organized meetings, explained people to understand the importance of unity among diversity and told them about the effects of riots in Gujarat. We established a library where people could come from any religious identity and read about diverse topics. Peace building activities began from that time. Our efforts continued but due to unavailability of identity proofs and not being registered as an organization, it was difficult to move around. This led to opening of ALFA as an organization, registered it as an NGO and we started our peace building activities officially from 23rd December, 2006.
Over the years, ALFA has developed a positive reputation within the community through its work with youth and child development, women’s empowerment, and communal harmony issues with a purely community centered and human-rights based view of development. All of these initiatives work together for ALFA’s overall goal of broadening the minds and potential of all Kherwara citizens. The organization’s idea of Sanjha Manch, or common space, encourages thoughts and opinions of all people in a safe area with no judgment. The simple idea of coming together with no thought of caste or religious exclusion fosters courage in the community and is meant to empower the people to form their own ideas and act on them. ALFA’s local origins have also allowed the organization to understand the problems and needs of the community much more holistically than an NGO unfamiliar to the area.