Our Journey


            Sanchetana began its journey in 1982 from Millatnagar, a slum of Ahmedabad, where Dr. Hanif Lakdawala started a clinic for the poor in a wooden partitioned cabin. In a situation where public health service was rife with corruption and grossly inefficient, quacks and private medical practitioners flourished. The poor, who are the victims of civilization, are left to perish. Survival of the fittest is the logic the civilization has come to follow. Poverty, exploitation, lack of education, ignorance of their rights, tradition-bound dogmas and divisive loyalties to castes and communities chained the urban poor to a life of enslavement and prevented them from challenging the status quo. Dr. Lakdawala wanted to change this brutal, inhuman, exploitative and unjust system where only the rich and powerful live and thrive. Realizing that only informed and aware people can bring about this change, Dr. Lakdawala founded Sanchetana- which means raising awareness which goes beyond one’s consciousness that one is born with.

            The journey began in a very modest and committed way where genuine health services were provided to the urban poor who were as neglected as their rural counterparts. The slum-dwellers came to the clinic in droves. The clinic offered medicines to the poor at the price that did not pinch them. Dr. Lakdawala’s clinic offered cure for both body and mind. Patients came to him with their tales of suffering physical and mental.

            Community health work became entry point for Sanchetana reaching out to urban poor intervening to improve their health standards; Sanchetana has gone a long way defining holistic health in the context of poor and un-healthy conditions in urban slums. We are convinced that the health of the community cannot be improved without improving the living conditions, hence we have responded to the needs of the communities like education, healthy environment, basic amenities in the areas, residence etc. Sanchetana aimed at strengthening collective actions at the community level so that slum dwellers are able to stand together against exploitation and discrimination and become participants in their own development. Beginning from a small clinic in a slum of Ahmedabad, Sanchetana has evolved as a human rights body that rallies the urban poor for the common cause of social justice, education, gender equity, women's empowerment and secularism. Sanchetana has made concrete efforts for communal harmony and peace building. Starting from state level advocacy to grass root level efforts have contributed to building communal harmony and peace among the marginalized.

The sphere of the work of Sanchetana has expanded over the years across different geographic areas and communities through freshness and creativity remaining loyal to its roots… just as the logo of Sanchetana symbolizes the journey over the years like a flowing river and it shall continue nurturing the tree of empowerment…