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Vision & Mission
Arunachal Vikas Parishad (AVP), a non-profit organization that runs over 600 projects throughout Arunachal Pradesh is dedicated to improving the lives of the people in the state with a focus on education, health, women's empowerment, youth development, socio-cultural initiatives, and rural development. Its focus on skill development and youth empowerment highlights its commitment to promoting sustainable development in the region.
The organization's work in Namsai and other parts of the state reflects its understanding of the challenges faced by tribal communities and the need for targeted interventions to address their unique needs. AVP's projects span the eastern district of Namsai, an area that is home to a diverse range of tribal communities, including Khampti, Singpho, Adi, Galo, and Deuri.
One noteworthy project among AVP's many initiatives is the education and skill development program. This multi-faceted program offers a range of activities such as yoga classes, skill development courses, cultural displays, group discussions, and lectures, all in one convenient location. The program provides young people with the tools they need to succeed in life, including improved physical and mental health, job skills, and cultural awareness.
The Chandrakant Narkhede Memorial Hall, where the programs are conducted, has a seating capacity of 150. The construction of this impressive project was made possible due to the generous donations of US-based Neha Narkhede and Sachin Kulkarni. Their contributions enable the organization to continue its critical work and make a meaningful difference in the lives of those it serves.
Overall, AVP's efforts in Arunachal Pradesh demonstrate the positive impact that non-profit organizations can have on the lives of people in underserved communities. By providing access to essential services and promoting sustainable development, AVP is helping to build a brighter future for the people of Arunachal Pradesh.
We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Milind Makwana, a real "karma yogi" and a resilient warrior. Milind suffered a massive heart attack around 11:30 pm on July 18 after attending the Cupertino, CA, meeting on the SB403 Caste Bill. Doctors' best efforts and fellow volunteers' presence could not save him.
Milind arrived in Cupertino, CA on July 18 to speak at the City Council meeting against SB403. Throughout the day, he participated in various meetings and the City council hearing, displaying the true spirit of a warrior. He fought passionately for his cause, showing us all the strength of his character and dedication. Tragically, he collapsed moments after the hearing, leaving us all in shock and disbelief.
Milind's journey began in Mumbai. He later pursued his dreams in the US, where he made significant contributions to the high-tech sector as a Technical Program Manager at a Fortune 500 company in Silicon Valley. Beyond his professional achievements, he was an active community member, passionate about learning and teaching Hindu precepts and principles to children. Volunteering with Sewa International for a decade, he found purpose and guidance.
As a Sewa volunteer, Milind visited Tamil Nadu in 2015 to witness and participate in relief work as massive floods hit the state. He went to a government school in Perambur, where Sewa organized a medical camp and helped children get medical checkups. When floods ravaged Mumbai, his hometown in India, and multiple other disasters caused havoc worldwide, Sewa International stepped in to help. Milind supported these efforts by actively raising funds from friends and colleagues. He regularly volunteered at the California Bay Area Sewa chapter, actively participating in various service activities and fundraising events. He ensured he focused his energies on eradicating misery by serving selflessly as his beloved Bhagavad Gita and other Hindu scriptures teach.
Milind contributed to several Sewa projects. When a massive earthquake struck Nepal, he worked tirelessly to get people to donate to the relief efforts. Thanks to Milind's work, the Sewa team won a grant from PayPal. He also ensured Sewa participated in the PayPal Opportunity Hackathon to build a mobile app to match volunteers to service needs. During the Kerala floods, Milind worked hard to raise money. When wildfire gutted homes and forests in California, Milind was at the forefront, assembling volunteers to arrange relief activities for evacuees, firefighters, and first responders. Many Sewa volunteers remember his tireless efforts to provide food, heaters, warmers, and blankets to firefighters battling destructive wildfires in California's Paradise camp-fire and Kinkade fire incidents.
Milind had two setbacks when he was in college. In the third year of engineering college in Mumbai, his father had to deal with several customers breaching their contracts, leading to a substantial debt burden on the family. During this challenging time, he and his family had support from neighbors, friends, and acquaintances. Milind graduated from college, being the first in his community to earn an engineering degree and make his way to the United States. The aspiration was to secure a well-paying job that would help him pay off his family's debts.
In an article in American Kahani, Milind, in response to the coordinated calumny against Hindus, boldly wrote that he had never been discriminated against in India or America because of his caste: "I lived in Mumbai's infamous chawls — crowded, low-quality tenements — where we rented a small, cramped room from a relative. Our neighbors included a priest and a Vedic astrologer. While both were members of what some would deem India's "upper" or "dominant" castes, we were all in the same socio-economic boat. We didn't think of them as superior, nor did they think of us as inferior. We too lived harmoniously, helping one another when needed, lamenting the struggles of upward mobility, and celebrating festivals and special occasions together."
Recalling his life in Mumbai, he wrote, "As someone who grew up in a so-called 'lower-caste' family in India before becoming a technology professional in Silicon Valley, I can tell you that not only are the realities of people like me far more nuanced than they are made to seem but so are our perspectives on how to best address caste-based discrimination when it occurs."
Milind wrote in response to the numerous legislative efforts to introduce "caste" as a category of discrimination in the US. In response to the action by the City Council of Seattle, he said they wanted to ignore voices like his. He wrote, "Part of the reason is that my story does not fit neatly into the stereotypes Americans at large are inundated with. That story wants to tell a story of division and widespread oppression; a story which deliberately distorts and demonizes Hinduism's teachings and traditions and then claims that my religion is not a safe space for Dalits."
In a consequential step, the Assembly Judiciary Committee of California recently conducted a hearing for Senate Bill 403 (SB403), which ostensibly seeks to prohibit "caste discrimination. "Indian Americans are the second-largest immigrant group in the USA. Many fear that codifying caste in public policy would further fuel Hinduphobia in the USA. A few weeks before his death, Milind fervently advocated against SB403 at the Sacramento City Hall. His determination to fight for what he believed in made a lasting impact on those around him.
Milind also wrote for children. In his unique short poem book, he introduced Hindu mantras to children through the daily lives of two American-born Hindus. The book features Sanskrit and English versions of well-known and popular Hindu mantras, with meanings, rhyming words, and beautiful illustrations. Milind donated all profits from the book sales to Sewa International to support local community projects.
His latest book, "Grit, Gratitude, and Mira," is a biography of Olympian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, "a fighter." Milind was a fighter to his last breath. He was just 44 years old and had so much more to give to the world. He was a loving father, survived by his two children, a 14-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son.
In honor of his remarkable journey as a resilient social worker, community organizer, author, and speaker, the community has initiated a fundraiser https://www.truekarma.org/campaigns/28 Let's get inspiration from the life of this great karma yogi and make a positive difference in the community around us.
Arun Kankani, President of Sewa International, said, "Milind's loss is a great shock to all, and a much sadder part of it is that God has taken away such a gem of a karyakarta (volunteer) so early. As we remember his life, let us also reflect on the importance of caring for our well-being. This tragic incident serves as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life. I urge everyone to prioritize their health. As we grieve, let us keep Milind's noble soul in our thoughts and prayers, hoping that he attains moksha."
VP, Marketing, Sewa International USA
In early March, I had an opportunity to run the Publix Half Marathon alongside my eight closest friends. This incredible achievement was not only a personal victory for me, but it was also a testimony to the inspiring journey we all took together to get there. It all began in October 2022 when I completed my first half marathon. Gathering at a friend’s house for lunch, I casually mentioned that I had signed up for the 2023 Atlanta Publix Marathon and was already getting trained for it.
Curious about my experience, my friends started to wonder if they could do it too. I told them that each of us could, and that was enough to motivate ten of us to sign up for the race that day. We created a WhatsApp group and invited more friends from our neighborhood to join us. Before long, nineteen of us had committed to running the half marathon.
With just 112 days to the race and the winter season in full swing, the group was determined to stay on track with our training. We ran 3-4 times a week, and eventually, most of us had run the half marathon distance in training. On the race day, nine of us picked up our packets and prepared to take the challenging Atlanta course. Despite the hills, we all completed the race feeling proud of our hard work and dedication.
Our journey to the Publix Half Marathon was a testament to the importance of self-care. As we know, it all starts with the first step, and the rest follows from there. I am immensely proud of my friends Ram Doma, Mukthesh Saraf, Srinivas Medicherla, Santhosh Yellu, Balaji Peddireddy, Sivakumar Reddy Dodla, Sateesh Tatipalli, and Satish Srikakulapu for completing the race.
Together, we have shown that anything is possible when you have the right support and motivation. It is also a testimony to the power and influence of Sewa International’s SELF program.
Is vaccination essential to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus? Data as of March 28, 2022, shows that 59 percent of the population is vaccinated. Why is this so after a year and a half since vaccines were made available? One of the reasons could be the sheer fear of vaccination, as almost everyone suffers from fever after 6-8 hours of vaccination. In rural areas, where access to information is scarce, the apprehension is higher. Also to be taken into account is the sheer density of the Indian population as well as how scattered the population is across the vast country.
Malku Lal, 70, lives in Saliyana village of Karnaprayag block in the state of Uttarakhand. A daily-wage worker by profession, Malku lost his job during the lockdown. He had to spend all his savings, and his family ended up seeking help and relying on the groceries and essentials provided by the government and non-profit agencies. Then on a bright sunny day, the vaccines arrived, and after some initial days of hesitation, Malku Lal stood in the line and got himself vaccinated -- for he needed to get back to work. But the sudden high fever and weakness shook him off his feet, and he swore not to take the second dose of the vaccination.
His second dose was due before August 28, 2021. The Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) staff at the local clinic tried to reach him via phone calls but failed to lure him in. On August 28, Sewa International volunteers called him thrice, and he did not respond. “Having no other options left, we arrived at his hut (‘kutiya’). Seeing us he started shouting, ‘Vaccine lene se bohut bukhar aata hein, mujhe nehi lena vaccine aur’ (The vaccines cause high fever and weakness. I don’t want to take the second dose). It took us nearly half an hour to convince him, and then he finally agreed. We escorted him to the vaccination center, where the ANM staff waited,” a Sewa volunteer recounted.
This scenario is the same in many parts of the country. Some people think that only the first dose is sufficient for them, while others, like Malku, are afraid of the side effects of the vaccines. Despite this, we, as a nation, have to inform and empower everyone so that all are fully vaccinated.
Diwakar Lele flew to Houston from Kentucky with his wife, for her cancer treatment, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. They were overwhelmed at first arriving at a prominent medical institution in an unfamiliar city. However, with the help of the hospital staff, they were able to acculturate themselves. On the same floor his wife was being treated, Diwakar Lele met a young Indian woman who was also there for her husband's treatment. She was the one who connected Diwakar with Madan Luthra, a veteran Sewa volunteer, and a case manager at Sewa Family Services.
Diwakar Lele called Madan Luthra to talk about the challenges he was facing and how he was dealing with the situation of his wife getting treated at the hospital. Madan Luthra enquired about the food being offered at the hospital. The food system at MD Anderson was different and efficient. They did not have a fixed time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They got served the food that they ordered in about 15 minutes. Diwakar Lele did not tell Madan Luthra that he needed Indian food. But Madan Luthra contacted Sewa volunteers, and they made a schedule on an Excel sheet to designate who could provide food each day.
Jayshri Pandya, a Sewa volunteer, made a healthy food plan for Lele’s wife. The food prepared and delivered was excellent, commended Diwakar Lele. Karishma Thakkar, a GIH (Get Involved Houston) summer intern for Sewa Houston, asked how he felt about the help Sewa volunteers offered when he and his wife were all alone. Diwakar Lele said that he and his wife were so thankful for all the volunteers who drove 25-40 minutes every day to bring to them. “It was nice to have home-cooked meals by people we had never met before. This service was unbelievable and unanticipated,” he said. A few Sewa volunteers such as Mrs. Pandya, Kavita Chandwani, Madan Luthra, Mansukh Vaghela, and a few others had the chance to meet Lele’s wife who offered her own thanks and gratitude.
Aniyah Zaman, another GIH summer intern for Sewa Houston, followed up with Mr. Lele and asked him whether he was still in touch with Sewa volunteers. “Even after we returned to Kentucky, I kept updating Madan Luthra on how my wife was doing. I was sending messages once in a while, and I have also kept in touch with Mrs. Jayshri. To this day, I can't describe the feeling when Mandan-ji showed me the prepared Excel sheet. It was a wonderful experience, and an indication of the selfless service Sewa volunteers have provided. I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart for helping us in our direst need at that time."
“Even for Sewa International’s volunteers this was a new experience – supporting and offering this kind of service. Sarve bhavantu sukinaha – may all be happy – is indeed a goal that calls for us to be innovative, thoughtful, and find out who needs what kind of help, when,” says Prof. Madan Luthra.
Surinder Pal, from Punjab, was a 49-year-old man who had lived for 31 years in the US. He had remained a bachelor and only had friends close to him. One day, one of his friends, Madan Lal, found Surinder Pal dead in the bathroom. He and his friends decided to repatriate the body to India since Madal Lal’s family lived there. “And that is when I called Sewa International,” said Himanshu Sheth, a friend of Madan Lal.
Before Madan Luthra, a case manager at Sewa Family Services came into the picture, Himanshu Sheth and Madan Lal had called different funeral homes, but the prices they quoted for their services were higher than what they and their friends could afford. They thought of different ways to raise the money. Eventually, Madan Luthra and Bharat Patel found a Hindu funeral home in New Jersey that did not charge as much as other funeral homes did. They had to put in a lot of effort tying up all the loose ends, ensuring that this important task was completed with care. They talked to Surinder’s parents in India, and given the time difference, the calls were at midnight. The total expense, in the end, was $7,000, less than half of the initial $15,000 to $20,000 that local funeral homes had quoted. “We did a lot, but Sewa did most of it,” said Sheth.
When the body of Surinder reached the small village near Amritsar, his friends and family thanked Madan Lal for bringing Pal back after thirty-one years. “What we did, I do not even have the right words to describe. Madan Lal was on the phone, and everyone was crying”.
When asked by Karishma Thakkar, a GIH (Get Involved Houston) summer intern at Sewa’s Houston Chapter as to how they got to hear about Sewa International, Sheth explained that he was familiar with Sewa since the time he and his wife moved from India to Houston. He was involved with HSS (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh), and through that, he met Achalesh Amar, Sewa’s Houston Chapter coordinator. When faced with this challenging situation, Sheth knew the first thing he needed to do was contact Sewa through Achalesh Amar, who then redirected him to Madan Luthra, another senior Sewa volunteer.
Aniyah Zaman, another GIH summer intern, was curious about what Himanshu Sheth thought of Sewa’s work and its network of volunteers and community organizations. Sheth believes that the Sewa network is strong and very supportive. He said the whole process of getting the body ready for airlifting to India became simpler with Sewa's help. They did not know all that the legal, funeral, and other processes involved, but with Sewa’s help they learned a lot quickly, and got the very important and challenging work completed. It was not much of a problem to collect the money needed from friends and family, “but getting the paperwork ready would have been a much longer process without Sewa’s help, and we would not have been able to do that easily,” Sheth said.
On the last day before the body was transported to India, Madan Lal, Madan Luthra, Bharat, and Sheth went to the Indian Consulate to send all the paperwork. “Even when we completed the procedure, Mr. Madan Luthra did not leave us until the body reached the airport. Such is the dedication of Sewa. I have known a lot about this, but this was the first experience I witnessed how they do it. Mr. Luthra was there until 7 or 8 pm that night, and he told us that he wanted to ensure that the body was taken to the airport," Sheth said. “There was no selfishness (swarth). Though he had nothing to gain, he did not mind the time and effort needed to get this important work done. Twenty-four hours a day, Sewa is ready to help people, and I run short of words to explain what Sewa International volunteers do. What they are doing is what God would have wanted any of us do. They want everyone to be comfortable. Whenever people need something the most, they are always there”.
In April 2018, just three days before the scheduled Caesarean delivery for twins, Ashish’s H1B extension was rejected. That was shocking as he had worked in the US for five years at that point. The company, with whom he worked for the past three years, asked him to hire a local attorney and transferred their visa to the B2 (tourist visa) category. They also said that the company will not help/assist in this matter. Either he should go back to India in the next one week to retain his current job transferred to the India office, or they would terminate his work. The termination of his work would also end his insurance coverage immediately. Ashish was under tremendous stress, as he did not know what would happen. He was completely at a loss without guidance from anyone, and he was in dire straits, mentally, legally, and financially. His employers had basically abandoned him.
It was a mere coincidence that one of his friends told him to contact Sewa International. He shared the telephone number of one Sewa volunteer in Texas, who said he would ask someone from the Bay Area to contact him. Ashish was surprised when he received a call in the next ten minutes from a Sewa representative, and in another minute, he had invited five others to an online conference, including members of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS). One of those on the call was Sewa’s Minal Joshi.
Ashish had least expected that there could be an organization in a foreign land with such selfless dedication to help someone like him. The entire Sewa team, especially Minal Joshi, were like a beacon to him in his dark days. He was not in a state of mind to plan the celebration of the expected arrival of his twins or worry about his visa and employment crisis. He still remembers the words Minal Joshi said to him on call: "Ashish, call me Minal ji, not ma'am. Never think of anything except your wife's health. Think about the upcoming joy you will be getting in the next two days. Leave the rest to us”.
He cannot say enough about the strength those magical words of Minal Joshi offered him. She is for him none less than his family. She would call him a number of times a day to check about his immigration status, any help needed to take care of his pregnant wife, and other matters.
Minal Joshi helped him connect to many people across the US who had a good knowledge of immigration and insurance issues. She also offered him a place to stay as he was out of salary and running out of money. Within the next 24 hours, Minal Joshi connected him to an attorney to get his B1 status (temporary business visitor) filed. She made various people work on his insurance coverage, so he should not run out of it. She knew that his company had claimed an immediate loss of insurance coverage soon after his job termination.
The delivery of the twins went smoothly, and he became the proud father of Aadhya and Aayanash. Minal Joshi's followed up with him till he boarded the flight to India. She helped him get the fastest way to obtain a passport for his twin babies and an India visa.
With his immediate challenges sorted out Ashish was all praise for Sewa International: "For me, Sewa is not just an organization but a temple. I have not seen God, but what the Sewa International team with Minal Joshi did for me was like God's act only. So, with all respect from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Minal ji, Sewa International, and HSS. You are the best in the world. May God bless you all, and please let me know how I can support Sewa International”.
News of Covid menace were pouring every day. Number of Covid affected people was on increase every day. My mind was numb with every morning news of people dying by Covid. I needed to be positive and therefore, picked up the book “My Life in Exile” by Freedom Warrior Savarkar, but my mind kept on wandering and wasn’t still and I couldn’t continue reading. I was telling myself that I must do something in this Covid atmosphere. Just then, I became aware of crusade “Covid Warrior” undertaken by “Rashtriy Swayamsevak Sangh” and “Janakalyan Samiti”. I was then undergoing Post Graduation and was staying in student’s Hostel of “Garware College, Pune”. I was pleasantly surprised to know that the lodging arrangements for these “Covid Warriors” were made in my Hostel only. I then started to find out about their activities in Thane. Incidentally, my mother, Mrs. Kavita Walavalkar, was then a member of Executive Committee of “Late Wamanrao Oak Blood Bank”. I got some information about the “Janakalyan Samiti’s” work in Thane. I was also getting many updates from many workers of “Akhil Bharatiy Vidyarthi Parishad”. Through these updates, one day, I learned the they are planning to form “Girls Teams”, just like “Boys Teams”, which were working in the field. I immediately decided to join the Girls Team. I took final decision of joining them during the night of 16th May. There was no question of any objection coming from my parents. As a matter of fact, this urge of “Social Service” was instilled in me by my parents only. My father was a full time Volunteer of “Akhil Bharatiy Vidyarthi Parishad”. I was observing acts of Social Services of my parents since childhood and was moulded in automatically.
The third batch of Covid Warriors was being assembled and on17th May all these Covid Warriors were brought together in “Shivasamarth School.” We were then had to undergo some Medical Tests. We attended few information and training sessions. We were trained in many skills, which included activities like “Use of PPE Kits, how to wear, how to un-wear and fold it properly and fill them in Disposal Bags. The Girl’s Team included six girls, namely, me (Surabhi Walavalkar), Namrata Kulkarni, Ankita Desai, Vaishnavi Gujarathi, Mayuri Patwardhan, and Ketaki Pawagi. The Girls Team then arrived at the auditorium of “Bharatiy Streejivan Vikas Parishad” at Thane (East). We were accompanied by Vaishali Taee Bhagwat, who was “Vistarika” of “Rashtriy Sevika Samiti”. Another Team of 15 Boys also came to same Auditorium for lodging. Our field work was scheduled to start on 18th May, but was postponed by three days due to some unavoidable reasons. Thus, our 11 days Camp became a 14 Day Camp. These three days were very difficult and at times we were thinking of dropping out and were about to return to homes. But then at one moment we decided that we will go back home only after executing the field work. Mr. Umesh Deshpande conducted “Vipashyana” training course in the mornings of these three days. This training helped us in stabilising our minds. In the process of Vipashyana we were asked to sit still and close our eyes for 10 Minutes. Once we closed our eyes, our minds started wandering in past. All good and unpleasant incidences of our past were keeping our mind occupied. The real achievement was to keep mind in the present and not allowing it to wander around. We were trained to achieve this objective. We were benefitted by this morning sessions of Vipashyana along with “Surynamaskar” and Yogasans. In the evenings, we recited “Ramraksha” and “Hanuman Strotr” which pacified our minds.
18th, 19th and 20th May was over. On 21st May, Mr. Surendra Champanerkar arrived and we learnt that our actual field work will start in the evening of the same day. I was very happy. It was this moment for which we were preparing ourselves all these days. We had learnt and practised wearing PPE Kit on the 18th May. But now learned the difference between our mock-practice and actual field working using PPE kit.
It was evening hours and the Sun rays were considerably slant. I was murmuring a Hindi film song “kahi dur jab din dhal jaye” in my mind. It took 15 minutes for me to wear the PPE kit properly on this first day. We walked and come near the entrance of a settlement. We were divided in teams of 3 members each. One girl will fill up the sheet containing Name, Nos. of occupants in the house, their Mobile / Contact Numbers, Any signs of illness, etc. The Second Girl was to record the body Temperature using Temperature Gun and third Girl was to distribute “Sanjivan” (Aayush) Tablets. Our two Girl groups, together visited 89 houses on the first day. During work on first day, once I had great difficulty in breathing wearing PPE Kit. I felt like quitting and stopping the work; but at the next moment I gathered myself and the energy started flowing through me and I realised that I can still work and should never quit.
We worked with increasing zeal on 22nd, 23rd, and 24th May. Our capacity and efficiency to work was also increasing. We had gone to field on the 1st Day in evening hours and were not bothered by the Sun on that Day. But next three days were very difficult. The hot afternoon Sun, profuse Perspiring in the PPE Kit, breathing difficulty due to wearing double masks, fogging and water drops our Sun Goggles and thereby impaired sight. We used to be without water for those five hours. Throat used to be very dry. Gloves were creating difficulty on the grip and writing was difficult. But we kept on and made huge efforts in collecting information from locals. We conducted survey of 189, 222, and 276 houses in these three days. Fortunately, our group didn’t find any Patient in first two days. Our second group found Patients on the 2nd day itself. It was a real test to exp-lain the situation to the residents. People were panicking if the recorded temperature was high. We used to tell them to keep their calm and to visit Doctors for further checks. Few people tried to hide their temperatures but in overall people were positive and responded well. Some houses offered us water to drink, some offered my beloved Tea. Our 2nd group was given a standing ovation in one lane and people clapped their hands in appreciation of our efforts. This encouraged us and we were ready with double vigour. We were helped by Mr. Nishikant Mahankal and other residents of Thane East. Mr. Uday Lele, Mr. Sanjay Prabhu Ghate, Mr. Mahesh Joshi, Mr. Sachin Lele, Mr. Tanay Dandekar from RSS helped us, guided us in achieving our goals.
We learnt on very first day that breathing becomes difficult, painful and troublesome when you are talking with wearing PPE Kit. So, on next day we kept on changing our roles after every interval. Most troublesome job was of that warrior, who was distributing Tablets. He had to explain to all residents individually, about how to take the Tablets, how many tablets at a time and when to take them during the day. Then there always used to be counter questions and they will also have to be answered. The warrior who was checking and recording Body Temperatures was at least botheration. Initially, during First two days we didn’t come across any Covid affected patients and we thought that there are no Covid patients. But on third and fourth day we found some patients with high body temperature, we felt bad. Especially, we felt bad, thinking about other members in the family. The worst painful experience was when a fifteen-month-old child was having temperature as high as 104 Degree Fahrenheit. We found 2-3 senior citizens above 65 years of age having temperatures as 102 Degree Fahrenheit. Their homes were very small and problem was compounded with 10-12 people living in a room. In such a condition, how one can expect them to maintain social distance? Above all, they were having a common Latrines and Toilets. Thane creek was also very nearby. These were the main reasons for spread of Covid pandemic. All these situations were beyond imagination for us, born as middle-class citizens. We had earlier, some experience of working in Tribal areas, but we were aghast looking at the such poor establishment in a progressive city like Thane. We felt that this vast gap between us urban citizens and these hutment dwellers must somehow be reduced.
We were under severe tension as we started finding patients with high temperatures. We had to hide our emotions because it wasn’t advisable to show our emotions, fear and tensions to the patients. I was trying my best to console every person coming across and was advising them to take due care. Once we finish our day’s field work, we used to go the designated Municipal School to dispose of the used PPE kits. We had to remove our PPE kits, fold them properly and put them in the “disposal” bag. Used PPE Kit were classified as “Solid Medical Waste” and were required to be sent to “Medical Solid Waste Management Centre” of an institute, namely “Enviro Vigil” at “Kalva, Thane”.
These four days of field-work were full of huge tension and fear, but we were also charged with indomitable energy and deep intention of working in any adverse situation. We never realised that how these days were over in the midst of human mind turmoil. We also realised, that if due care is taken, you will never be infected by Covid-19.
One more thing I enjoyed along-with this field-work was the excellent food offered in our Camp through efforts of Ketaki Taee Marathe. In my School days I used to go to Ketaki Taee for learning to play Harmonium. Now, I was meeting her after so many years and I cannot describe how satisfying was this meeting. Ketaki Taee and her Ladies Group pampered us with very healthy food with excellent taste. This healthy, tasty and delicious food gave us the required energy to our Field task in best manner. I heartily thank Ketaki Taee and her Ladies Group.
By 23rd many of my friends, my parents’ friend groups and relatives knew about my joining this activity. That followed many encouraging messages and phone calls filling me with more energy and determination to complete the task. But the best thing I liked was the testimonial given to us by Vaisahali Taee at end of the fourth days field-work. That was an unforgettable Testimonial. It said………………
“Exhausting body, mind and wealth
will complete this Social Life Task
will take my India to highest peak of fame
this is the resolve and is the determination
Crores are singing songs of “Hail India”
Proud of you
Three Salutes to your Patriotism”
We were very happy with this testimonial and felt that our efforts were meaningful and useful to the Society. As a parent, Vaishal Taee is best but more than that she is best human individual. Vaishali Taee and our group of six became instant friends. It is true that friendship happens naturally when minds with similar thoughts, similar objectives come together.
Experience acquired in these four days taught us many things and gave a new direction to our lives. Covid-19 patients are increasing continuously and it is requirement of the day to stand unitedly against this deadly virus. There is a need for many Covid Warriors and I request you that if you have an able body and spirited mind and if you wish to do something for the Society, then please join this movement. Country needs you. We the young generation of India should rise and march towards our goals and never stop at anything………….
Prayvaran Dakshata Mandal, Thane
During the ongoing pandemic, vaccination is one beacon of hope and a simple solution to this aggravating problem. However, it is not as straight forward as it seems, especially in multi-cultural country like India. In Sewa team's recent visit to a couple of remote villages in Maharshtra, it was quite evident that lack of education is crippling our health care efforts. Residents of these villages were hesitant to get vaccinated on account of an ongoing rumour that it results in loss of life. Sewa volunteers made an effort to address their issues about vaccination and motivated them to get vaccinated as soon as possible. To support the awareness campaign, we also spoke about right nutrition and distributed health and hygiene kits to the women in these villages. We are committed to strengthen our communities from inside out.
Lakhmapur and Mandva in Nagpur District, Maharshtra. As a Sewa volunteer, I was looking forward to this event, since I perceived it as a great opportunity to connect directly with the community. However, I did not anticipate the depth of our interaction with the residents of these villages. When we reached Lakhmapur, we had a very heart-warming welcome. Jankalyankari samiti runs an initiative where they train Arogya Sevikas (Health care workers) and Sanskar varga sevikas (After school tutoring) from remote villages for sustainable development of these areas in long term. The kids from Sanskaar Varga presented welcome song and were excited to meet us. Distribution of kits was a small part of the event. It was more of a safe platform for women to share their issues about health and education. It was heart wrenching to see young women craving to study but schools and colleges are closed. They have no other means to get educated. Many young women wanted to pursue under graduation, however, these villages do not have regular public transport especially during pandemic. Since March of 2020, when the lock down started, the kids have missed out on studies. This is such an important age for mental development and missing out on education will have long term repercussions. The Sanskar Varga Sevikas are bridging this gap and trying their level best to lead children of these villages into right direction. Our team also spoke to young women about self-reliance in face of adversity. As Sewa volunteers we obtained a fresh perspective on from where we have come and how far we have to go as a community.
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