Roots of LSS lie in Total Literacy Campaign (TLC) launched in the year 1990 and ended in 1996. Many people from amongst the present LSS team joined the TLC in the very beginning and got an opportunity to visit all the villages in the district. Though the express objective of TLC was to improve the percentage of literacy among the villagers, wider discussions with the villagers led the team understand complexities of social fabric.
The spirits of the TLC volunteers and leaders were very high as during the 1995 elections to the Legislative Assembly the voting percentage had gone beyond 80 per cent. But the very next year TLC was abruptly ended. There was considerable debate among the volunteers and leaders as to what should they do – should they go back to their pre-TLC occupations or move ahead with working with the rural community. They chose to follow the later path.
And they were extended help by the then Commissioner of Bilaspur division, Harsh Mandar. In fact Harsh Mandar was the person behind shining success of TLC in Raigarh district, where he was posted as Collector before he moved in 1993 to Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration, Mussourie, as Deputy Director.
When LSS was registered, the volunteers went back to the villages, started giving information about schemes packages to the people and linking them to the government funds. Six months after the registration, LSS got its first fund from Rajiv Gandhi Watershed Mission. The work was so successful that the model was given to the government departments to replicate. After that the organization got associated with funders as distinguished as UNDP, CAPART, Textile Ministry and Water Aid.
LSS is a group of local people. It does not intend to bring in people from outside. It firmly believes that industrial development should not take place at the cost of human values.
During its short journey about 10 organisations have sprung out of LSS. They have formed a joint forum, which is working towards people’s empowerment.