By Sridevi Gade
He is like any other father who loves his children. He rejoiced watching his only daughter growing up and shining well in studies and life. But, when she, at the tender age of 23, cut short her life, he was devastated and grief stricken, like any father. But, he hasn’t stopped at that. “I am not alone in this grief and sorrow,” he realized and started a movement to prevent suicides among youth. This is the story ‘From Sorrow to Service’.
Dr Samuel Reddy Eda, who lost his only daughter Spandana who committed suicide over two years ago, has resolved to devote his life for preventing suicides in general and among the youth in particular. The tragedy prompted him to start Spandana Eda International Foundation (SEIF) for the cause of helping the youth on all fronts and it has become his life mission now.
Dr Samuel Reddy spoke to Excel India on how he built a sort of movement around his Spandana Foundation in the last two years and the response he got from the youth and their parents. Today, Spandana has reached out to many sections in the society and became a forum to discussion a range of issues related to youth. Excerpts from the interview:
What prompted you to launch this Spandana Foundation?
After I suffered the biggest tragedy in my life, the untimely passing away of my only daughter, Spandana on January 2, 2020, everything in life has changed for me. I understood how precious is life and the amount of pain and anguish parents suffer when their beloved end their lives due to various reasons.
Within a few days after the tragedy, I have decided to do something to see that no other parent suffer the pain I had undergone. I wanted to bring awareness among all stakeholders – youth, parents and society in general to prevent suicides. In present day world, the youth have none to share their emotional turbulences. Spandana Foundation shall bridge that gap.
How is the response from others to your initiative?
A majority of the parents, say around 90 per cent, supported my decision to start this foundation. But, there are others who differed with me, saying: “Why do you do this, by this way, you will be constantly reminded of your daughter that may continue your pain”. But, I have decided to do something in memory of my daughter and went ahead.
So, how is your journey at Spandana Foundation since 2020?
When I stared it two years ago, only a few people were with us. Our cause, to prevent suicides has appealed many. Why not we do into the root causes that lead the youth to suicides, we thought. We mostly focused on solutions, not the reasons for suicides. In the last two years, we could reach around 2 lakh students, in various forms.
We have conducted many meetings, seminars and debates in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on the issues that cause stress on the youth. We reached to different sections like students, parents, teachers and general public. On the occasion of World Suicides Prevention Day on September 7, 2021, we held several events across the states.
Today, we have 150 active volunteers and another 450 part-time volunteers. Today, Spandana Foundation has many programs focusing on different skill sets for youth. Now we are providing life education to the youth, so that they become self-reliant to take on any challenges in life confidently. We contacted around 2,000 teachers during this period.
What are the programs that Spandana foundation focuses?
We impart study skills, so that the youth won’t feel studies as a burden. We teach them emotional skills, which are important in today’s world. Most youth have none to depend on for their emotional needs. Their communication with parents has become minimal. This is a reason, why many youth are feeling depressed or ending their lives.
We have programs for interpersonal skills, financial skills and spiritual skills too. These are the areas where our youth face tremendous pressure and burden. We tell them how to handle the problems through these skills. Not only for youth, but all groups of people, we conduct sessions on their physical, social, environmental, cultural and intellectual wellness.
What are your plans?
We are conducting an all India seminar on May 21 and 22 at Tadepalli in Guntur district on the activities of Spandana Foundation. Many eminent persons from across the country will participate in it. We are planning to expand to all states in the country. Starting more counseling centers for the youth and depressed persons are on our agenda.
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