History of ARCH
ARCH, since its inception in 1982, has been a journey of both ideas and activities. We started with primary health activities in Mangrol village, never expecting to stumble into the invigorating resettlement and rehabilitation work of the Narmada Dam, which led us subsequently down so many other paths. Throughout our quest to help Gujarat’s rural poor, ideas and action have been in constant conversation, each influencing and guiding the development of the other.
ARCH was never conceived as a pure charity program. Behind our extensive services for poor tribals, we have always envisioned ARCH as an actor in a process of social change. Change always comes in pieces. At the time of our conception in the 1980s, the idea of “social change” often meant total, sweeping transformation of the social order, violent if necessary. We rejected the powerful notion that the liberation of the poor can occur only through a revolutionary overhaul of the social order. Peaceful, democratic and peacemeal social action was our task and method. Thus, we began by setting up a dispensary in Mangrol and organizing villages threatened by the prospect of the Narmada Dam. Our early activism led to just resettlement policies, and gave roots to our present community organizing and mass action efforts for tribal land rights. Our constructive activities to better the lives of poor people in rural Gujarat have flourished into a tangible piece of social change, but we never lose sight of our final goal – the well-being of individuals. A non-compromising individualism is at the core of action. For us, man is a measure of all things.