Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sewa Sandesh 109: 8 July 2008

From the Editor’s Desk
"Sewa International team has always been trying for betterment in the quality of Sewa Sandesh and we are glad to present this issue in a better format. Well, it is partly the exterior look that impresses everyone around but the other part which is crucial, the content, is also being taken care of, you would understand through this issue. The political issues, not to deny their importance, have been enjoying public space including debate, more than what it deserve. Yet, a larger part of the society feels that this peculiar phenomenon has overshadowed many important social issues, especially in the media. Might be because the social issues seem to be little less saucy & spicy.
The social issues and experiments, many noble things happening around, unheeded though, have been on our radar and we assure our readers that we would strive to present you these in best possible way we can. Sewa being the core of all such noble efforts, Sewa acts and experiments are being brought to you through Sewa Sandesh." -- Shyam Parande

VHP runs more than 35,000 service projects across the country

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) was established in 1964 with the objective of uniting the whole Hindu society. Special emphasis was laid on the service activities to achieve this objective. The establishment of a hostel at Talasari in Thane (Maharashtra) in 1966 was the beginning in this regard. It was the first service project by VHP. But today it has created a huge network of service activities across the country. However, the Sewa Vibhag of VHP was basically formed after the infamous incident of mass conversion in Meenakshipuram. Today, the Sewa Vibhag runs more than 35,000 service projects through more than 200 different trusts and organisations. The total projects include 20,163 educational projects, 9,486 health, 782 self-reliance and 2,886 social welfare projects. Besides these projects, many service activities are conducted during the festivals, melas, religious yatras and natural calamities.
Bal Kalyan Ashram: When the whole society looks after the orphans, how can they be called orphan. It is with this thinking that the orphanage homes were renamed as Bal Kalyan Ashram. One such Bal Kalyan Ashram was started at Fonda in Goa approximately 30 years ago. Today, this project has become very popular and many prestigious people of the society have associated themselves with it. It is basically an effort to make the children self-reliant. Weddings of the children of Fonda and Belgam Ashram are also performed to give them stability in their life. A total of 14 Bal Kalyan Ashrams are being run and there is a move to open one such Ashram in
every district.
Hostels: There are 105 hostels and 15 residential schools in different parts of the country. These hostels have proved to be very useful for the VHP to get large number of fulltime workers. Some of them have become Pracharaks and Vistaraks in the Sangh. For the benefit of the children of leprosy-affected people there is one hostel in Gulbarga (Karnataka), one in Kotkapura under Faridkot district of Punjab and two projects are in Haridwar. There are 16 hostels and 19 schools in the north-east.
Health : Sanjivani Hospital of Ahmedabad, Eye Hospital of Pune and Ashwini Hospital of Karnataka have earned a good name, fame and reputation in the field of medical science. Modern treatment is provided there with state-of-the-art medical technology. The cost of treatment is more than 50 per cent less, than the other hospitals. In special circumstances free treatment is also provided. There are also some small medical centres. In Orissa, the Vanvasi boys and girls are provided primary health training under the Charak Health Scheme and then they are appointed at the village Panchayat levels to look after the health needs of the local people. A total of 133 workers are working today at 111 villages in 16 districts of Orissa.
A new project kown as ‘Rugnashrya’ has been started for the attendants of the patients at Goa Medical College. In the first phase, the arrangement for 25 patients was made and the building to accommodate 100 such people is under construction. There are centres for the deserted women in Mangalore, Goa and Nagpur.
The Banswara and Beawar projects in Rajasthan have proved to be a hit. Under these projects more than 650 schools are being run in the Vanavasi areas. The areas, which once had the influence of Christians and Muslims, are today echoing with the slogans of ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. Not only this, more than 70,000 people of these regions have returned home i.e Hinduism.
More than 250 Self-Help Groups, run in Kerala have proved to be very helpful in making the women self-reliant. Ayurvedic Gram Yojna is also being run in 13 districts of the state. The work on planting more than 10 lakh trees of Ayurvedic medicines at 30 acre land by Vishwa Bheshjam Service Society is under process. Many Bal Samskar Kendras, Balwadi and cutting-tailoring centres are being run in the Sewa Bastis of Nagpur, Kanpur, Prayag, Thane and Portblair. They have proved to be very helpful in removing untouchabilty and strengthening social harmony.

Sevika Samiti to expand sewa work in rural areas

Rashtra Sevika Samiti has decided to expand the organisation’s work in rural areas. For this objective, this year has been declared a Sanjivani Varsha and the Samiti has adopted 155 villages in the country. Special emphasis would be laid on security of women, health, Samskar and education in these villages. Enumerating on the special project at the concluding ceremony of a training camp held in Delhi. Smt. Rekha Raje, Akhil Bharatiya Sewa
Pramukh of the Samiti, called upon the activists to develop a good network of dedicated workers in the rural areas. The concluding ceremony was presided over by Smt Rekha Pande, an advocate of Supreme Court.
Smt Rekha Pande said that the more the Samiti work spreads, the more the country would make progress. She pointed out that the Samiti has started a number of welfare projects for women across the country. Besides other projects the Samiti presently runs 22 hostels in different parts of the country.

Sewa In Action:
A Community Based Rehabilitation Programme of People
With Disabilities in Karnataka.

Sewa in Action is a voluntary organization established in 1985 as one of the pioneers in Karnataka to develop community based rehabilitation for total rehabilitation of people with different types of disabilities, which include physical disabilities, mental handicap and leprous.

Sewa in Action is registered as a society in 1992 under Karnataka Societies Act 1960.
The estimated number of disabled persons in India is around 10% of the population. It is said that not even 2% of them have access to any kind of service.
This situation made this organisation to find a path to create access to people with disabilities (without disintegrating them from the society) so that they could lead a life with dignity and respect.
Sewa in Action started community based rehabilitation programme which has assisted over 15,000 people with disability to get access to education, health and employment covering 86 villages of Bangalore and Kolar districts.
Home based support to families: CBR workers who are grassroots champions provide early identification and early stimulation programme which prepares children with disabilities for integration into pre-schools and Self Help Groups for children in age group of (0 to 6 years)
- Self Help Groups or Multipurpose Disability Centres from a nodal point for all disabled children in a village/town. These groups prepare disabled children to get admitted into primary schools.
- Rural based vocational training programme.
- Integrated Education for children with Disabilities (I.E.D.) programme.
Trained and committed resource teachers render support to those disabled children who are integrated in regular schools.
- S.I.A. has successfully motivated the village communities to form friends of Seva in Action groups which are now registered to sustain C.B.R. programme.
Training programmes are conducted to meet the specific needs in CBR for organizations.
Multi-category resource teachers training workshop: This one year certificate teacher training course has recognition from NCERT and the Government of Karnataka.
Distance Education Programme: Another unique programme of Seva in Action is the Distance Education Programme in Braille for those people who are willing to extend a supportive hand to people with visual impairments. This six months course is pioneer effort in Karnataka.
Shishu Udyan: This is an integrated pre school system at the premises of Seva Gangotri. By adopting renowned Montessori system, the organization is trying to integrate the normal as well as challenged children into a cohesive social unit.
Shishu Udyan being a model school provides a centre for practical experiences for the trainee children.
Kalika: This is a manufacturing unit of Seva in Action wherein making of envelops, writing pads, paper bags etc., using old newspapers and recycled materials are taught to the challenged persons. Now candle and 'diya' making have also become part of this manufacturing activity. The organization trains these challenged persons to stand economically on their own feet in their grownup state of their lives.
Research & Development: a) SIA has a research programme which developed various models of aids and appliances which are cost effective and appropriate to the rural conditions as wheel chair with jack, cane with beep etc.
b) Training packages for trainee families, grass root workers, multi-purpose workers and general teachers.
Networking: SIA also gives technical support to voluntary organisations, governments in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajashtan.
Looking Ahead:
SIA looks forward to more need based interventions both at empowering people with disabilities as well as sustaining need based rehabilitation at community level.

Revelling in the Joy of Giving

While corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the latest buzzword, employees from the corporate world are looking to contribute to the society in their own individual way.
A group formed out of the need to contribute something ‘real’ - Sevasahyog—recently undertook a school-kit donation drive in the city. Employees from over 17 companies including IT giants like Infosys., KPIT Cummins, Cybage etc. donated school bags, books, geometry boxes, drawing books to over 3,000 underprivileged children in and around the city.

The decision to undertake the drive was triggered by the realization of the core team that tangible donations increase participation of employees. “Sevasahayog focuses on women’s empowerment, education and health. We wanted to do a programme that fits into one of our key areas of focus, while involving maximum number of persons”, said joint secretary of the group, Manik Damle.
Damale narrated how the group that began with five members over three years back has now transformed into a large one coprising ten core team members. “The companies regularly give a part of their profits to NGOs or other social activities, but we as employee felt left out”, said Damle.
She said that members along with their families were present for two days of ‘shramadan’ where they visited the children in various slums and gave them the kits. The members narrated stories of interaction with the children and that was the turning point in most of their lives and approach, said Damle.
The core team undertook an e-mail campaign that lasted a week, asking employees to donate money for the cause. “The world-of-mouth publicity was phenomenal. We had a volunteer from each company sitting in the cafeteria for two hours everyday, accepting donations. Some persons transferred money using net-banking. And once the world spread, donors actually came looking for the volunteers within the office”, said Damle.
“Only funds are not enough. Often, the underprivileged sections of the society need skills more than money, so, we even encouraged participants to contribute their skills to the group's activities”, said Damle. Also, the drive helped recruit about 70 new members to the group.
Rajesh Gawade, a member of the core team showcased how Sevasahyog is committed to conducting various NGO capacity-builing programmes, has created a ‘Youth for Seva’ programme which encourages Indian and foreign students to volunteer for a programme of their choice, etc.
The school kits were given to institutions working for children of sex workers, children of women running self-help groups in the society, children of those belonging to tribes and sugarcane-barvesting labourers, among others. A notable feature of the drive has been that 52 per cent of the receipients are girls-students.
A token distribution ceremony was organised by the Maharashtra Education Soceity (MES) on 28th June. Sevasahyog runs programmes throughout the yar in collaboration with different NGOs and can be contacted at 020-24433606 or sevavardhini@gmail.com
(Times of India Pune, July 1, 2008, Times city pg. 4)

Gates leaves Microsoft to focus on charity
San Francisco, June 28 (DPA) His vision for a computer in every home largely achieved in the developed world, Bill Gates ended his full- time job at Microsoft Friday to focus on charity work aimed at improving healthcare and eradicating extreme poverty in the third world.
'There won't be a day in my life when I won't be thinking about Microsoft, the great things that we're doing and wanting to help,' said a teary-eyed Gates, 52, at a company event.
Gates founded the 260-billion-dollar company in 1975 and has been transferring much of his fortune into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Thanks also to donations from the world's richest man, Warren Buffet, the foundation is now the largest charity in the world with assets of almost 40 billion dollars. Both men have pledged to donate almost all their fortunes to the foundation before they die.
Gates plans to work on high-level strategy at the charity and also to use his clout as one of the world's richest men to push forward its agenda on a full-time basis. However he will remain non-executive chairman of Microsoft and plans to devote about one day a week to working there.
Gates handed over his role as Microsoft chief executive to his long-time partner Steve Ballmer in 2000, when Gates became the company's chief software architect.
Under a carefully planned succession programme, Gate's duties will be taken over by two top Microsoft executives. Ray Ozzie will be in charge of day-to-day management issues, while Craig Mundie will be in charge of long-term planning.
But Ballmer admitted Friday that despite the careful planning, the company founder will be sorely missed at company, which has reputedly made 10,000 of its employees millionaires.
'There's no way to say thanks to Bill. Bill's the founder. Bill's the leader,' said Ballmer at the internal tribute event. 'This is Bill's baby.'
The company, whose Windows operating system powers some 90 per cent of the world's personal computers, has a market capitalization of about $260 billion and employs more than 78,000 people in 103 countries.
But even as its cash cow products of Windows and the Office productivity suite look set to continue their stellar earnings, Microsoft faces tough competition as Google's online dominance threatens to cut into Microsoft's core businesses.
Despite the company's failed attempt to buy Yahoo as an antidote to Google, most analysts believe Microsoft will continue to thrive even without Gates at the helm.
'I've seen (Microsoft) bat away one mortal threat after another - and I see no reason to believe that Google's turn will not come, too,' said Rob Helm of research company Directions. 'Bill has been there so long he has lots of 'Baby Bills' that represent the same culture: very smart, very aggressive and focused on meeting competition head on.'

Inspiring Personality:
Baba Amte (December 26, 1914 - February 9, 2008)

Murlidhar Devidas Amte was a respected Indian social activist. He was the founder of several Ashrams and institutions for the service of leprosy patients and other marginalized people shunned by society. Anandvan (literally "Forest of Joy") located in the remote and economically less privileged district of Chandrapur Maharashtra, is the most well known amongst them and was his home.

Baba Amte dedicated his life to various other social causes, the most notable of which were environmental awareness, wildlife preservation and the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Amte was bron in Hinganghat located at Wardha district of Maharashtra in India in a wealthy family of Brahmin jagirdars. He was called as Baba (an affectionate title in Marathi, which can also be interpreted as a title of respect not because it was conferred upon him but since it was a nick name given to him by his parents).
Trained in law, Baba Amte had a lucrative practice at Wardha. It was then that he got involved in Indian freedom struggle and started acting as defence lawyer for leaders imprisoned in the 1942 Quit India Movement. He was deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, with whom he spent sometime in Sevagram Ashram. Baba Amte was follower of Gandhism for his entire life. He practiced various aspects of Gandhism including weaving and wearing Khadi, dedicating his life to the cause of upliftment of the downtrodden classes of society.
Anandvan was the first of the three Ashrams started by Baba Amte to treat and rehabilitate leprosy victims from the disadvantaged sections of society. After taking a leprosy orientation course at the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicare, Baba Amte began his fight against leprosy. He used to run about 11 weekly clinics around Warora in Chandrapur district. Taking his work to the next level, he started the Anandvan Ashram in a remote jungle near Worora to help rehabilitate patients. Anandvan was registered in 1951 and received a state land grant of 250
Dutton Leprosy Society for his work in the year 1983.
Today, Anandvan has two hospitals, a university, an orphanage and also a school for the blind. The self-sufficient ashram unit has more than 5,000 people residing in it.
He wore Khadi clothes from the looms of Anandban and ate fruits and vegetables grown in Anandvan. He believed in the concept of a self-sufficient village industry for the empowerment of seemingly helpless people and successfully brought his ideas into practice when he established Anandvan.
Baba Amte died in Anandvan on February 89, 2008 at 4.15 am. As per his last wish, he was buried and not cremated.
Baba Amte won numerous awards during his life, most notably the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 1985. He was chosen for his work-oriented rehabilitation of Indian leprosy patients and other handicapped outcasts. In 1999, he was awarded the Gandhi Peace Pize for his exemplary work for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients and his concept of the "Shramik Vidyapeeth" (Workers' University) where patients and volunteers work together.
All monetary proceeds from his awards were used for his social projects.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
- M.K. Gandhi.



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