Kanavu | கனவு

கனவு means ‘dreams’. A small team with big dreams, we dream of an India where circumstance does not dictate destiny. We empower rural schools and communities of rural Cuddalore, by bridging the skill and opportunity gap. We presently work with Affordable Private Schools & allied communities, set up by ASSEFA Foundation in rural Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu. We work across 2 thematic areas – Education and Community Development.

In education wing of our work, we work with four affordable private schools to deliver holistic education sustainably. In the Community Development wing, we empower communities through skill development and livelihood opportunities for rural women, through our social enterprise Sura.

The Association of Sarva Seva Farms (ASSEFA) was set up in the 1980s. It put to good use the lands collected during the Acharya Vinobha Bhave led Boodhaan movement. Having set up more than 100 schools in rural Tamil Nadu, ASSEFA started 6 schools in tsunami affected rural and coastal Cuddalore in 2005. These schools aimed to create nurturing learning environments for children who are disadvantaged by systemic, man-made and natural oppression. Children and women from this communities inspire us endlessly with their resilience and desire for change.

Our work | Education

What is the problem we are solving for?
Schools in rural India are unable to deliver quality education to children.

How can we solve for quality education in rural India?
At Kanavu, we believe that an effective leadership in school, strong teachers and an ecosystem to support schools is the path to delivering holistic education. Towards this, we nurture teachers and HMs’ skills on content (what to teach) and pedagogy (how to teach) through periodic training programs and regular workshops. We empower school leaders to create a school environment where they are able to effectively deliver quality education. To sustain these efforts in remote villages, we believe we need to nurture an eco-system of global partners towards providing support to the schools’ collective.

What has been the work so far?

In the past 6 years, we have created proof points of achievement across student learning outcomes, teacher leadership and ran pilot program in student leadership and arts education. June 2020 to October 2021 pushed us to pursue delivering holistic education online, through the pandemic. Content created by over 50 volunteers was delivered to over 60% of our students through Whatsapp as daily tasks. This was an opportunity to integrate arts, Social Emotional Learning and academic learning.

What are we looking do to in the coming years?

We wish to impact 1800 rural children by creating holistic learning opportunities through a variety of engagement across whole-school transformation, community learning centres, teacher development programs and parent empowerment programs. We wish to build a rigorous art program which can be scaled to government schools in the region. We aim to have a rigorous teacher development program that supports teachers with varying degrees of expertise. We want to identify long term donors both individual and organisations towards a sustainable scholarship program for children from these communities.





Our Work | Community Development

Women earning a livelihood through Sura

Singer-certified tailors

Families Reached

At Kanavu, we believe that it takes a village to raise a child. Students of ASSEFA schools come from 102 villages on the coast of Cuddalore district. This gives us an opportunity to work with these communities. In our Community wing of work, we empower communities through:

1.Livelihood opportunities for women through Kanavu’s social enterprise, Sura.
Sura is a social enterprise that aims to expand financial and life choices of women in rural communities, by sewing and selling affordable lifestyle products to a global audience.

2. Skill development in partnership with Singer Sewing Institute.
Providing access to sewing as a skill with a certification upon completion, right in the village makes a big difference to women from rural communities. It is this opportunity that we create through Seva Resource Center, teaching sewing as a skill.

3. Parent empowerment Program
We empower parents through awareness programs and creating opportunities for families to positively engage with the schools.

Kanavu’s Social Enterprise | Sura

A group of mothers, angry about rising education costs wanted to spend their 7-8 hours of “leisure” time meaningfully to support their child’s education economically. Microcredit supported them to buy their own sewing machines & start sewing classes. Sura was born out of the struggle to pay the class fees and the loan- the mothers decided to create products and sell them to cover costs. Sura is a proud recipient of the National Entrepreneurship Award 2019, growing in confidence and reaching a global audience today – our women are on the path of empowerment, broadening financial choices for themselves while creating a larger social impact.
5+ years into our journey, Sura’s exclusive portfolio of vibrant & customizable fabric products have found a dedicated and fast-growing clientele across India and the globe, of over 1000 customers. When you buy a Sura product, you are choosing to support a rural woman’s dreams.
Head over to our website – www.powerofsura.org


Lifestyle products


Our People

Karuthammal, Teacher

Dreams of an India where, all women enjoy freedom from oppression.

Sandhya, Sura Tailor

Dreams of building work spaces where women enjoy freedom outside their home.

Nirosha, Head Mistress

Dreams of leading a school where women can build long term careers without socio-cultural barriers.

Thivya Lakshmi, Student

Dreams of a world where, children lead the path to solving the world’s biggest problems.

Our Enablers

At Kanavu, we believe in the power of the collective, to make dreams come true. Meet some of our ‘enablers’ who have volunteered with us – from a 3 day stretch to month-long internships, we open out a range of volunteering opportunities. Our huge network of 300+ ‘enablers’ continue to shape Kanavu ‘s path to achieving our dreams. With the pandemic and ensuing school closures, we made big strides across teacher leadership in online learning, enriching cluster with technology and ensuring learning continuity from March 2020 until October 2021.

Interested to be an ‘enabler’ to propel our dreams forward? Write to us.


Hours Of Volunteering

Our Team

Our Partners

Kanavu Kadhaigal | Stories from Kanavu

Working with rural communities and schools leaves us with so many stories everyday – stories about India, about our children, people, resilience, hope and struggle. Read our blog, to explore Kanavu’s stories and our people

Kanavu | In the news

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