Fifth International Sewa Baithak(ISB) was held from 3rd Jan – 5th Jan 2016 in Indore,MP. 41Delegates from various countries including Bharat, UK, USA, Kenya, Myanmar, Singapore, Australia and Sri Lanka participated in the meet. Biennial meeting is conducted with the purpose to understand the progress and issues faced by all Sewa International organisations, including Sewa International Bharat(SIB), and ways to grow the Sewa movement into other countries.
Shri Shyam Parande, Global Coordinator of Sewa International, introduced the Adhikaris and other dignitaries present while representatives of Sewa International associate countries introduced themselves.
In his inaugural address, Dr. Shankar Tatvawadi, Patron, Vishwa Vibhagsaid that we all need to reach to the most downtrodden of the society and work in places where no or little help has reached. Service before Self motto needs to be incorporated firmly in our ethos.
Program Structure & Topics
The whole program was divided into approx 90 minutes sessions throughout 3 days, starting from 4 pm on 3rd Jan till 11 am on 5th Jan. The participants presented their topics via Audio-Videos/Powerpoint Presentations, Written Speeches, Reports etc. Intense discussions were held with participation from all present members resulting in useful insights into the inner workings, issues, challenges faced by all Sewa International members as well as suggested action items to work towards possible solutions.
Following were the major topics that were presented and deliberated upon during the meeting,
Overview of Sewa Work being conducted in each represented country.
Disaster Management – Past, Present and Future plans and strategies.
Meeting minutes for the last SIB meeting in Vrindavan in 2013.
Sponsor-a-Child Program – A flagship program promoted by Sewa USA for supporting education for needy kids to be scaled up in coming years and targeting almost 5,000 students/year by 2020.
Volunteering – Ways to encourage and promote volunteerism.
Sewa Day – Global or Local? Challenges and Way Forward.
Discussions on Sewa Logo, Vision, Mission statements.
Fund-Raising – Experiences shared by associates and best practices to be followed.
Yuva for Sewa – Current state and Future plans.
Pioneers and Role Models for Sewa – Sewa Activities done by Indians abroad by Shri Ravi Kumar Iyer.
Empowering associate countries with Sewa Concept – Sending sewa karyakartas from India to neighboring countries for providing training to locals there as well as local exposure.
Updates on the work done in other countries not represented in the meeting by Shyam Parande.
Expectations of associate countries from Sewa International Bharat for more effective engagement.
Sewa Yatra – Exposure cum Volunteering Concept to be expanded to all associate countries.
Family Services Projects – Assist our brethren abroad with various programs for outreach like SDM (Stop Diabetes Movement), Yoga for Sewa, Visa Assistance etc.
Evolution of Sewa International Bharat – Need to provide centralized resources for managing back-office work of various associate countries.
Integrated Social Media/Web Strategies – Common website linking all associates maintained by Bharat.
Doctors for Sewa – Challenges and Opportunities. Huge interest in Indian Diaspora to do good and contribute to society through volunteering at hospitals/camps in India.
Vaanprasthi – Supporting our elders abroad who need support and also willing to help in Sewa Activities.
Baudhik by Shri Shyam Parande and Valedictory address by Shri Saumitra Gokhale.
Action Items for Follow-up
As part of the 3 day intense deliberations, following points came out in open which required further focussed action and need to be updated before the next meeting (proposed to be in 2018),
Improvements in Communications –Need to ensure that all our Sewa International donors and karyakartas are getting the updates and the email lists are updated.
Disaster Rapid Response Team –Evaluate and propose the feasibility of Disaster Response team. Faster response to Disasters by our AV person, Shri Shashidhar.
Sewa Yatra- Need to promote this concept in other countries also. Need to build Online Digital Portal for active engagement, Social Media promotion etc. Need to identify Sewa Projects in Gujarat (Ahmedabad) also for Sewa Yatra due to high number of donors there.
Mangal Nidhi- Need to promote Community Celebration like donating for Cataract Operations, Community Marriages, Planting trees etc, for personal events like anniversary, birthday etc.
Sewa Call Center- Explore possibility of establishing Sewa Call Center in India for donation calls, donor management and act as back-office.
Reports/Proposals/Marketing- Need to evolve an effective strategy for Reporting, Proposal Writing and Marketing for Sewa International for better quality documents for approaching CSR, Foundations, Corporates, Govt for grants.
Websites Support/CiviCRM- Need for better integration among Sewa Websites as well as Donor database management using CiviCRM.
Doctors for Seva (DFS)- Easing the process to get the doctors in India for initiatives like Cleft Surgery. Need to formalize process and work with Ministry of Health in India to see how to streamline the permission process which takes few months now.
Brand Ambassador- For better promotion of Sewa Events/Campaigns, there is need for a Brand Ambassador to vouch for us.
New Sewa International Associations- There is a need for a formalized process to be defined for incorporating new Sewa International associations. This will help get other Sewa associations started.
YFS Training- Need to explore ways to find volunteers and empower them to do sewa work effectively.
Common funds for Big Projects – Evolve a Mechanism to allow for maintaining a Common Pool of funds designated for supporting Large Sewa projects like Schools, Colleges, Multi-Year Support Projects.
Impact Reports – Need to generate more analytical reports with numbers showing the visible impact created by Sewa work. It is required now when approaching corporates for CSR and bigger donors.
Empanelment with United Nations(UN)- Sewa should try to get empanelled with UN for Disaster Relief as well as Rehab activities. This will help in our expanding its reach to millions more people and resources which can be put for better use.
Sewa Delhi Expenses- With increased work demands for faster outputs, it’s required to increase the staff strength in Delhi. Presently, only Sewa USA supports Delhi office which is insufficient and needs to be supported by other members also. To better serve the needs, 2 more offices are being planned, one each in Mumbai and Hyderabad.
The conference concluded in the morning of 5th Jan, 2016 by inspirational baudhiks and margdarshan by the adhikaris.Valedictory speech was delivered by Shri Saumitra Gokhle, International Coordinator of HSS. He said, “This sewa baithak has been much better than the earlier baithaks and we need to continually progress in making it better for years to come. Sewa International needs to grow in many more countries where Indian-origin people are resident. We should all make efforts towards that end. Bharat, due to its age-old history has the responsibility of leading the world. We already have given “Yoga”, which is now recognized world-over for its effectiveness in leading a healthy spiritually rich life. Now, we should also teach the concept of “Sewa” which is selfless service for humanity. Key thing to understand is that Sewa is not done to provide help to others but to purify our own souls and for our own betterment and in turn make the whole world a better place. Sewa International needs to recognize and grow its Thought Potential, Growth Potential and Creative Potential in order to fulfil its responsibility towards the society. We need to be rooted firmly to our values while conducting our work and also educate the world on the same. There is a need to creatively engage people and design sewa programs which could provide maximum benefit to the downtrodden.” Next Sewa Baithak is tentatively being proposed to be outside India, probably in Sri Lanka in early 2018, and would include Sewa Yatra also.International Sewa Baithak proved to be a great platform for different Sewa International members to collectively learn and contribute towards cumulative growth. The conference concluded on the positive note of building up an effectively serving network of Sewa organizations and activists across the countries, building up required resources and reaching out to newer avenues.
THIRD PHASE OF REHABILITATION OF FLOOD VICTIMS IN CHENNAI
Under the third phase of rehabilitation of flood victims in Chennai the Sewa Bharati on January 10 distributed livelihood material at Mathur, Manali, one of the worst flood affected areas in Chennai. Prior to distributing the material, a survey was conducted by the volunteers to assess the need of the victims. Material worth Rs 6 lakh was distributed.
In a unique way, cow along with calf were distributed to the locals who requested for the same. Items like printer, scanner, Xerox machine, tailoring tools, electrical tools etc. were also distributed. Items including Iron box, grinder, water tank, tricycle, electrical tools, and chairs for saloon shop, fish net, rickshaw, plastic table, chair etc worth 14 lakh was distributed to nearly 700 flood affected people who lost their essential tools/machines for their job surviving. Senior Pracharak Shri Sethu Madhavan, Chennai Mahanagar Sanghachalak Shri Kalyan Singh, Prant Sewa Pramukh Shri Ramarajasekar, State secretary of Sewa Bharati Shri Rajesh Vivekanandan, etc distributed the material.
ANUP JALOTA SINGS FOR VANVASIS
In order to sensitise the people living in cities to help their Vanvasi brethren, Shri Hari Satsangh Samiti Delhi and Shri Hari Vanvasi Raksha Parivar jointly organised a Bhajan Sandhya by noted singer Shri Anup Jalota at Civic Centre in Delhi on January 9. Union Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar and senior Pracharak Shri Shyam Gupt were also present on the occasion. Chief Guest Shri Ramesh Juneja, chairman of the Mankind Pharma, declared to adopt 2,500 Vanvasi villages. Many other people also declared their support.
Shri Manoj Arora, president of Shri Hari Vanvasi Raksha Parivar, apprised the audience of the positive changes surfacing in 223 districts of 23 states through the Ekal Vidyalayas. Shri Shyam Gupt said the soldiers provide external security while the Vanvasis provide social and cultural security. He said the day we have one lakh Ekal Vidyalayas and two lakh Satsang Kendras in the country will be no trouble to the internal security of the country. The satsang has the power to eradicate social inequalities.
RELIEF MATERIAL TO TRANSGENDERS
In a unique drive, Sewa Bharati Tamil Nadu on January 11, distributed relief material to the transgenders affected in the floods. Shri Kumaraswamy, State vice president, Shri Duraishankar, president and Shri Sunil Ramachandran, General Manager of Mathrubhoomi and Padmini Prakash, world's first transgender news anchor, distributed the material to around 400 people. Hailing the services by Sewa Bharati activists during the flood, Padmini Prakash said the support of transgenders to Sewa Bharati would always be there. Shri Kumaraswamy said the transgenders are worshipped as Arthanareeswarar in our culture. Madhoru-bhagan deity in Tiruchengode resembles the same. Being part of the society and children of Bharat Mata, he appealed to the transgenders to participate more to bring social changes.
TN GOVERNOR HONOURS
SEWA BHARATI FOR EXCELLENT SEWA DURING CHENNAI FLOOD
Tamil Nadu Governor Shri K Rosaiha felicitated Sewa Bharati for outstanding service during Chennai floods. Shri Duraisankar, president of Tamil Nadu Sewa Bharati, received the Special Achievement Award. Congratulating the awardees the Governor said it is the history of Tamil Nadu people to excel in work. The function was organised by World Tamil Chamber of Commerce at Chinmaya Heritage Centre, Nungambakkam on January 10 to celebrate World Tamil Day. It was a celebration of Tamil art, music and culture of Tamil people across Bharat and world.
SOCIAL ACTIVIST LOHANI TO BE HONOURED WITH VIVEKANANDA SEWA SAMMAN
Noted social activist of Kolkata and founder of 'Parivar' Shri Vinayak Lohani was selected for 30th Swami Vivekananda Sewa Samman. 'Parivar' is an organisation to import free education. The Samman, which consists of a cheque of Rs one lakh, a citation and memento, will be presented by West Bengal Governor Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi in Kolkata on January 17. Instituted by Shree Burrabazar Kumarsabha Pustakalaya inn 1987, the Samman is presented to individuals or organisations working for betterment of the society according to the ideals of Swami Vivekananda. After completing B.Tech from IIT Kharagpur shri Lohani obtained MBA degree from IIM Kolkata. Instead of opting for corporate career education to the deprived children to ensure their all round development.
The project today has its own building at Barkalikapur under 24 Paragna District, where more than 1,000 students from jharkhand and West Bengal are getting education.
Throat cancer patients who have lost their voice can look forward to speaking again, without having to shell out thousands on an artificial voice box. Dr Vishal Rao, Bengaluru-based (Karnataka, Bharat) oncologist, has invented a voice prosthesis priced at just Rs 50. The device weighs just about 25 grams and is seen as a boon for the poor. The prosthesis available in the market costs Rs 20,000 (to be changed once in six months). The device has been aptly named Aum voice prosthesis. "We decided to term it Aum, as that is the sound which first resonated across the universe. Regaining one's voice is so much like a rebirth," said Rao. He took the help of his friend Shashank Mahesh, an industrialist, to deal with the financial aspect of the project. Ramakrishna, 55, a watchman from Peenya suffering from throat cancer, was the first recipient of the prosthesis."He was a beedi addict. He had been smoking for years to keep awake at night. He suffers from throat cancer and we had to remove his voice box. He was given a Western voice prosthesis. Though it had a shelf life of six months, he used it for two years as he couldn't afford a new one. He came to me with tears in his eyes saying that food was leaking through the prosthesis. Our device innovation was just about ready and we offered it to him for Rs 50. He regained his speech and returned with a million dollar smile, telling me that he was doing fine. That was the biggest gift for me," said Dr Rao. At any given point of time, there are over 1.5 lakh cases of tobacco-induced cancer in the state.
Smt K.N. Paru in her late 70s had resigned to a life in her gutted one-room hut. For generations of the students of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), Kochi (Kerala, Bharat) behind which stood her rundown house, she has been Paru Amma, the granny who unfailingly swept clean the campus. Moved, a few students of the School of Engineering decided to repay by refurbishing her home. And on January 15, they did as the School of Engineering Principal, G. Madhu, gave her key of the renovated house. It all started after Nitin Vasanth, a final year B.Tech student, spotted the septuagenarian sweeping the campus on a rainy evening last November. It took countless visits to local body offices to clear issues related to the 0.90 cent of plot and get the clearance. The students started with pulling down the gutted structure. They took turn to help masons. The truss work was done using welding machines at the mechanical lab. They braved cold December mornings to water the cement structures, painted the house during evenings after the classes and electrified the house. A contractor provided an earthmover for free to clean up the mess in the front yard. Finally, when a tearful Paru Amma boiled the milk to mark the house warming they were all present as if to make up for the absence of her own children.
Recognising his honesty, the West Bengal government today honoured a city taxi driver 42-year-old Prodyot Paul with a cash award of Rs 10,000 and urged others to emulate his example. Handing over a cheque (of that amount) at a simple function in his Writers Buildings chamber, state Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty informed that Paul had willingly returned Rs 7 lakh to its rightful owners, who had left the currencies in a bag in his taxi while travelling in the city on March 20, 2006. Paul after dropping a passenger near the Great Eastern Hotel found a bag lying on the floor of his taxi after about an hour. In order to trace the identity of its owner he opened the bag and to his surprise found that it contained several gold ornaments and bundles of cash inside. But without a second thought Paul first rushed back to the hotel and tried to identify the person he had dropped. But despite waiting for nearly an hour when he could not find him, he went to the New Market Police station and deposited the bag to the Officer-in-Charge. Later it was estimated that the cash and jewellery in the bag was valued at more than Rs 7 lakh which was returned to its owner the next day after proper verification, Chakraborty informed. Highly impressed by his act of honesty the New Market police recomended his case to the state transport department for a suitable reward. Paul refused to claim that he had done something extraordinary."I only tried to implement ‘honesty is the best policy’ - which I learnt in my childhood", he emphasied.( Courtesy: Panchaamritam)