PUSHPA acronym chart

Slide Show

The Minnesota Connection


History of PUSHPA

Gummadi Franklin was born and grew up in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. He studied pharmacy at Vellore Christian Medical College in South India, and worked as chief pharmacist and administrator of Philadelphia Hospital, a Presbyterian teaching hospital in Ambala, Haryana. Shirley Franklin, a Minnesota native, graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota, and Bank Street College of Education, NewYork City. Shirley taught English at two Lutheran schools in Guntur, and later studied primary education in India, as a Fulbright Scholar.

Franklin worked for 30 years in the medical products department of 3M company, St. Paul, while Shirley taught in Minneapolis and they raised their children, Priya (Morioka) and Prashant, in Minnesota. The Franklins continued to share a vision of helping people help themselves in India. In 2003, this idea began to take shape, and was named PUSHPA, after Franklin's younger sister, who died of a childhood illness, and a flower, which grows and blossoms.

At first PUSHPA initiated short-term projects like donating water buffalo to needy families for dairy development purposes, and sponsoring short term medical camps and a slum clinic. Later, PUSHPA turned its focus to the socioeconomic development of tribal colonies in several villages northwest of Guntur.

PUSHPA was incorporated as a charitable organization in Minnesota, USA, in July 2005, and subsequently qualified as a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization.Map of India

Historical Context

To understand PUSHPA, one must understand the unique challenges faced by the tribal populations served by PUSHPA. For centuries, India defined a person's worth and lifestyle according to heirarchy of the Hindu Caste system. Tribal members, not being in the castes, were further marginalized. They lived a nomadic life, moving as seasons changed and work became more or less available, living in temporary housing, and following primitive health practices. They were required to maintain a social and physical distance from persons of caste.

This caste-based system, though still followed by some, is no longer legal in India. The government has granted small areas of land on the outskirts of villages where tribal people can establish permanent colonies. Regional medical services and education are available to them. But,these people have been marginalized by society for years. Achieving the necessary self-confidence and skills to take charge of their own development has not been easy.

We recognize that change must come from within. PUSHPA initiatives strive to help people help themselves. Small changes become giant leaps when people begin to have new skills and expectations—at the personal and community levels.