Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sewa Sandesh
December 2013
Birth centenary celebration of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram founder Balasaheb Deshpande formally began in Delhi onDecember 22. A formal inaugural function was held at Maharaja Agrasen Engineering College, Rohini. RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sah Sampark Pramukh Shri Ram Madhav and Kalyan Ashram Akhil Bharatiya Sah Mahila Pramukh Smt Ranjana Karandikar were present on the occasion. Former Police Commissinor of Delhi, Shri Radheshyam Gupta presided over the function. Noted industrialist Shri Ramkumar Basia and social activists Smt Savita Gupta and Smt Seema Relan were also present.
Shri Ram Madhav stressed the need to bridge the gap between the Vanvasis and the people living in cities. He said at the time when the cultural values are fast vanishing from the cities, the Vanvasis have preserved and nourished them. He also highlighted that how the innocent Vanvasis were exploited by  some foreign elements. He said the so-called civilised people are only ruining the environment in the name of development, but the Vanvasis are honestly preserving them.
Smt Ranjana Karandikar highlighted the journey of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and especially how Balasaheb Deshpande created the huge network at the ground. Apart from the speeches, some cultural activities were also displayed at the function. The function concluded with the singing of Vandemataram.The birth centenary is being celebrated in two phases. In the first phase there was large scale tree plantation during the last one year and now in the second phase health camps are being organised all over the Vanvasi areas. Special focus is being made on village contact.
In a first of its kind event in north-eastern region, Sewa Bharati Purbanchal organised Arogya Chetna Shivir in Guwahati from November 8 to 10. More than 2000 Arogya Rakshaks working in 1700 villages of north-eastern states joined the Shivir and pledged to speed up the work in all the villages of the region. Today, about 5000 Arogya Rakshaks are rendering primary health services in remote villages of the region. The event was the outcome of six months preparations.
The camp began by lighting the traditional lamp by noted Satradhikar Shri Shri Janardhandev Goswami. RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi, Deputy Principal of Guwahati Medical College Dr Umesh Sharma and Principal of Guwahati Ayurvedic College Dr Dhaneshwar Kalita were also present on the occasion. Dr Dilip Sarkar presided over the inaugural ceremony, while RSS Kshetra Pracharak Shri Ulhas Kulkarni delivered the keynote address.
Shri Janardhandev Goswami spoke about the challenges before the society and the role of youth in facing those challenges. Dr Umesh Sharma and Dr Dhaneshwar Kalita stressed on the health awareness and apprised the Arogya Mitras how to work more effectively. After the inaugural session, Arogya Bharati organising secretary Dr Ashok Varshneya spoke about the message of Swami Vivekananda to the youth. Dr Pushpa Singh stressed the need of awakening women power. At the concluding session Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi guided the Arogya Rakshaks how to spread the work and also make it more effective.
The procession taken out on November 10 moved the people of the city. Many senior leaders of the Rashtriya Sewa Bharati including Dr Narendra Desai, Shri Sundar Lakshaman, Shri K Lakshman Malya, Shri Gurusharan Prasad and Shri Shyam Parande ofSewa International Bharat were also present at the Shivir. The concluding session was addressed by RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sewa Pramukh Shri Suhasrao Hiremath.
‘When will I get a tricycle?’ a poignant article in a Hindi daily for a physically challenged boy Rohan triggered the Dehradun swayamsevaks to help him. Under the guidance of Kripashankar, Samyukta Kshetra Prachar Pramukh, a tricycle was handed over to Rohan at Vishwa Samvad Kendra Dehradun onDecember 2. Boundless joy was seen on the face of Rohan when he received the tricycle. Vibhag Pracharak Shri Buvan, Mahanagar Pracharak Shri Chandrasekar, and other Sangh leaders were also present on the occasion. On seeing her son getting a new dimension to his life because of the RSS swayamsevaks, Rohan’s mother's eyes welled up.
As an initiative Sewa International Australia celebrated Diwali and the festive season at its annual function on 16th November at Melbourne. Coordinator ISCF, Krishan Auplish welcomed the distinguished guests including Anna Burke, Federal Member for Chisolm, Hong Lim, State Member for Clayton, Mayor of Monash City, Cr Geoff Lake . Nearly 70 senior members of the Forum were present at the event. Rakesh Auplish presented a synopsis of the various activities of Sewa International since 2000. The function also featured cultural programs like Bharatnatyam.  


Once an award winning chef, 32-year old Narayanan Krishnan of Madurai has served meals to over 19 lakh mentally disabled, sick, old and homeless destitutes living on roads, under bridges or crannies between the temples.
Out of country’s total 21,906,769 disabled population about three lakh of them are mentally disabled. Large number of them are found living uncared on roadsides without clothes, food, and in highly unhygienic conditions. Madurai-based Narayanan Krishnan left the lucrative job of a chef in Switzerland and started serving the mentally disabled, old, sick and homeless destitute living or dying on roadsides in his hometown Madurai. His life mission totally changed when he saw a mentally disabled eating his own waste out of hunger. He started serving meals to such people utilising his own personal savings in 2002, and till now has served meals to around 19 lakh destitutes. Interestingly, he himself cooks and serves the meals. Not only this, he also learnt hair cutting when the local barbers refused to shave such people. It is an outstanding example of restoring dignity to the human life.
Tonnes of cooked food go waste in the parties whether hosted in hotels, banquets or parks of the cities almost every day. On the other hand, lakhs of people go to bed without food everyday. The condition of those who are mentally disabled is very miserable, as they are not aware of their basic needs—when to eat, what to eat. This thought changed the life mission of Madurai based Narayanan Krishnan to such an extent that he turned down the offer of a chef’s job in Switzerland and started serving this most neglected section of the society living and dying on the roads in Madurai.
Since 2002, Narayanan has served millions of meals, three times a day — breakfast, lunch and dinner — to the mentally ill, destitute and abandoned in the city. Now he has set-up Akshaya Home in Madurai and housed more than 450 mentally disabled people after rescuing them from the roads. It is a complete home equipped with modern kitchen, hospital and entertainment facilities. Narayanan personally devotes time for preparing and serving the meals. The gratitude and happiness seen on the faces of the inmates after taking the meals cannot be expressed in words.
Apart from feeding, Narayanan also provides quality medical care to all the residents with the help of doctors. Periodically, dental camps are also conducted to improve the personal hygiene. If any of the residents falls sick, he or she is immediately is taken for emergency care. The Trust also gives special care to beneficiaries who are very sick bringing back to normal life. “Since I personally know all the beneficiaries since the last 12 years, I spend almost 18 hours a day interacting and mingling with them. They get a secured feeling,” says Narayanan.
At the age of 19, with a degree in hand, Krishnan was selected to be a chef in a five star hotel of Switzerland. A single moment changed his life; seeing a man eating his own waste out of hunger. This made him realise how much we take for granted and how much we waste (even if it is unintentional), by throwing parties at banquet halls to honour people. So much food is wasted. Hundreds of people come, but only a handful eats the food.
When Narayanan decided to quit his dream job to serve such people, it was a little harder for his middle class parents to understand completely until the day he took his parents to show them why he was giving up his dream. A man on the street looked up at Narayanan’s parents and boldly said, “We are able to get three meals a day because of your son.” Touched by that man’s words, Narayanan’s mother said to him, “My dear son, you feed all these people, I will feed you till I am alive.”
In 2003, Krishnan founded Akshaya Trust. Akshaya means never-ending. That is exactly what he and his team of volunteers provide for the homeless– never ending aid. Over 12 years, he has been able to serve almost 1.9 million hot meals to the elderly and the mentally disabled—non-stop without any break, come rain or shine. Since the mentally sick people are not aware of their needs, they are found on the roads in very miserable condition—long hair, dirty clothes, lying in dirt and highly unhygienic condition. In 2005, Narayanan approached a team of barbers of Madurai to help give haircuts to such homeless people, but without any success, he took matters into his own hands, “I went to a hair cutting training school for six months, learnt hair cutting and till then has done thousands of haircuts for people.”
Before setting-up of Akshaya Home, Narayanan and his team travelled to great lengths to serve the meals. “We travelled 35 miles for breakfast, 35 miles for lunch and 35 miles for dinner.” Even now Krishnan’s day begins at 4 am. He and his team roam in a donated ambulance in the city and find the homeless poor souls under bridges, crannies between the city’s temples.
Another outstanding achievement of Narayanan is that some of the mentally disabled who were till just 6 months ago on the streets without hope or dignity, are today able to lead a life that has some semblance of normalcy. Some help in preparations of meals, while some have been trained to clean the dining hall, set the tables, clean-up after the meals, washing the clothes, housekeeping or look after the garden. Even the last rites are performed with full respect and honour. It is important because many of such people die on the roads and sometime last rites are not performed for days until the dead body starts decomposing and somebody complain to the police of foul smell. The inmates are also engaged in craft works and in indoor games. The quantum of happiness and satisfaction on their faces cannot be expressed in words. Surely, there can be no better rehabilitation of these people as has been done by Krishnan. The love and affection he shows while serving these people is outstanding.
Gandhiji had said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Narayanan Krishnan truly imbibed these words and set a precedent for all of us to follow.
Amid reports of growing crimes against women and also emerging new threats, Chetna, a unit of Bharatiya Stree Shakti, organised a workshop in Delhi on November 21 to prepare the women to face the new challenges of life. According to Dr Indu Aneja, president of Chetna and a leading psychologist, the prime objective of the workshop was to explore the self within oneself and understand the environment better. The life skills were broadly divided into three general categories—social skills, thinking skills and emotional skills.The workshop explained the abilities for adoptive and positive behaviour that enables individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. “Life skills empower adolescents for livelihood and to face their daily challenges. Effective acquisition of life skills can influence the way one feels about once self and others, and can enhance one’s productivity, efficiency, self esteem and self confidence. Life skills can also provide the space to improve interpersonal relations,” explained Dr Aneja in her introductory remarks. She also talked about life skills, self-awareness and empathy, creative thinking and critical thinking, Decision making and problem solving, effective communication and interpersonal relationship, coping with emotions and stress and facilitation skills and training methodologies through different activities and examples. 
Shri Narayanan Krishnan of Akshaya Trust Madurai has been awarded with Prof. Yashwantrao Kelkar Yuva Puraskar 2013. This award is given to recognise his outstanding work in helping the helpless, homeless, sick, mentally ill and destitute by providing healthy food, care and opportunity to rehabilitate to restore human dignity.  The award comprises of Rs 50,000 cash, certificate and a memento. He was felicitated with the Award in a special function at the National Council of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad held on November 30 in Varanasi.
This award is given in the memory of the late Prof. Yashwantrao Kelkar, whose contribution was like a foundation stone to build up and flourish ABVP, the world’s largest students' organisation. This award is being given since 1991. This is a collaborative activity of ‘ABVP’ and ‘Vidyarthi Nidhi Trust’, both committed for the cause of uplift of education and students.’ The idea behind this award is to encourage young social workers, engaged in various social welfare activities and to offer them a platform, thereby to motivate other youth for social work as well as to express gratitude to the young social workers. Narayanan Krishnan was recognised as one of the World’s Top Ten Heroes of 2010 by CNN.

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