SJA was established in August 1991 by a small group of philanthropists, led by former United Nations volunteer, A H M Faisal Ahmed. Their aim was to develop a locally based, not-for-profit and non-political development organisation that would operate at a “grassroots” level to address the real needs of economically and socially marginalized members of the community in Sylhet.
Initially, the organization specialized in youth training projects in order to develop young people’s skills and thereby their economic prospects. Since then, SJA has expanded into a respected and innovative organization, covering up to 1.42 million people in the Sylhet, Chittagong & Dhaka division. The organization now focuses its efforts on combating diseases like STI and HIV/ AIDS, malnutrition, social wounds like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and issues like disability, health and family planning, health & Nutrition, maternity & Child Health, environment and climate change, water resource management, water and sanitation, gender sensitization and stop violence against women and children.
SJA’s philosophy has always been to empower the most disadvantaged in the community through equipping them with the skills, resources and confidence to improve their own quality of life. Full participation from the community is a core feature of SJA’s projects and the organisation’s success may be largely attributed to its flexibility in responding to the needs of the people.
Through its work, SJA has always strived to develop its own organizational capacity, particularly in participatory planning, the designing of realistic programs and implementing effective monitoring and quality control initiatives.