Houston, TX (August 6, 2018): The American Red Cross awarded Sewa International a $500,000 grant to rebuild homes of the economically underprivileged devastated by Hurricane Harvey in Rosharon Village, Brazoria County, TX. This grant in the next 18 months will help Sewa reconstruct 11 completely destroyed homes and 24 partially-damaged homes thus benefitting 154 men and women, including 35 seniors and 47 children.
Known as Little Cambodia, Rosharon with a population of approximately 1,400, is 30 miles south of Houston in an underserved rural area. Home to predominantly Cambodians refugees, and some Laotian and Mexican refugees, the majority eke out a livelihood in this insular setting through subsistence farming. Families here had fled Cambodia in the late 1970s escaping the genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge. Nearly fifty percent of the families are involved in growing water spinach, a staple of Asian cuisine. When Hurricane Harvey roared through South Texas it devastated Little Cambodia, bringing down houses rendering people homeless, and leveling greenhouses thus destroying livelihoods.
The Sewa International team members in Houston, many of whom themselves had to bear losses to their homes, have been hard at work, in raising funds from its supporters across the US, and then applying for grants from organizations who sought the help of trustworthy and qualified groups to carry out relief and rehabilitation. Sewa raised over $2 million for disaster recovery in less than a year since Hurricane Harvey hit, including the latest American Red Cross grant of $500,000.
Sewa was the recipient of a $397,000 grant awarded by the Greater Houston Community Foundation (GHCF) in December 2017, providing case management help for 600 individuals. Completing the work in record time, Sewa International ended up helping 1,600 individuals from minority and underprivileged communities, earning kudos from GHCF. Thus, this grant from the American Red Cross is an affirmation of the good work done by Sewa as well as acknowledgement of the can-do spirit of this Hindu faith-based charitable organization standing out amongst its mainstream peers. The total cost for rebuilding and repairing homes at Rosharon for this project is estimated to be about $675,000, out of which Sewa International’s donors are contributing $175,000 or 25%.
“Despite the generous support of funding agencies, the task at hand is enormous,” said Achalesh Amar, Coordinator of Sewa Houston who has continued spearheading the disaster recovery efforts in Rosharon for nearly a year. Ecstatic on hearing the award of this grant, he continued, “The experience of rebuilding Rosharon has been demanding, sometimes frustrating, but more often rewarding and always an optimistic one. The American Red Cross grant allows us to lay the foundation, literally – one home at a time -- to rebuild and revitalize Little Cambodia.”
Gitesh Desai, President of the Houston Chapter of Sewa International who has for months lived in a hotel room as his house was flooded, said “We are honored for the recognition by American Red Cross, a major humanitarian organization. We are grateful to them for reposing their trust and confidence in us through this amazing gift. The grant further strengthens Sewa International’s resolve to fulfill our mission of giving back to the society through selfless service – a cornerstone of our Hindu faith.”
For further information, contact: Achalesh Amar, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 713-357-8216.
Photo 1 (R to L): Sewa International Houston Chapter Coordinator Achalesh Amar discussing house rebuilding plans with Sewa Construction Supervisor Pham and a Harvey affected resident in Rosharon, TX.
Photo 2: Sewa International's Houston Chapter Coordinator Achalesh Amar (in yellow T-Shirt) supervising the distribution of construction materials to Harvey affected residents in Rosharon, TX.
Washington DC Chapter started Diwali Food Drive in the DC Metro area in the month of November that successfully concluded in December. Thanks to the generous contributions from various like-minded organizations, we have collected over 1200 pounds of rice. The DC Central Kitchen has picked up rice on 12/11/2016 that will serve the needy for at least three months.
We’re pleased to tell you that you’ve been selected as a Hero of Houston.
Your picture will be part of our Wall of Heroes installation on Discovery Green, Houston. The display will take place from May 10th – 13th from 7am to 10pm, so make sure you drop by to see yourself!
From everyone at Shell, we extend our sincere appreciation to you and the many other volunteers who joined the effort to support Houston after the hurricane.
Early on that unforgettable Monday morning, as Hurricane Harvey brought the Barker Reservoir's waters up his front yard and then under the front door, Gitesh Desai knew his own recovery efforts would have to be sidetracked.
Desai's neighborhood, Fleetwood, sits in the flood pool of the reservoir on Memorial Drive in the Energy Corridor. Most of the houses in the subdivision took on at least 7 feet of water and two weeks after the storm had passed, Fleetwood was still inaccessible to its residents.
"The first floor is completely gone, everything I possessed was destroyed," Desai said. "My books, my memories, irreplaceable pictures and albums - it's all gone."
Desa is president of the Houston chapter of Sewa International, a nonprofit that participates in disaster rescue and recovery worldwide.
Sewa means selfless service - service above self - in Sanskrit.
In the storm's immediate aftermath, the 63-year-old coordinated Sewa's partnership with 40 organizations in the Indian community. Sewa recruited more than 1,200 volunteers who logged nearly 45,000 work-hours, brought in 21 truckloads of supplies, set up a 24-hour helpline and rescued 687 people from floodwaters.
Vijay Pallod, a leader in the local Indian community, met Desai in 1993, during relief efforts for the Latur earthquake in India. That earthquake destroyed 52 villages, killed nearly 10,000 people and injured 30,000 more.
"I was very impressed with his dedicated volunteer work to help the community," Pallod said. "He is well-respected as a true leader in the community."
As in the earthquake and countless other natural disasters since, Pallod said, Desai emerged as a community leader when Harvey struck.
"He never talked about his own problems and being away from his home, but he was ready to listen to others' problems," Pallod said.
Three months have passed since Desai's home was flooded and he is still living in a hotel. He has plans to repair his home, Desai said, but the execution is going slowly.
Though Houston has seen more than one rainstorm since Harvey and life has returned to normal for many, Desai and Sewa continue to help rebuild the lives of those who lost everything.
The organization's work is mostly based in Rosharon, Desai said. It has raised $450,000 to aid in relief efforts.
"It's hard to describe how hard it is," Desai said. "But it doesn't break our spirit. That's why we keep doing it."
Deepawali in Nepal
In Nepal, Deepawali is celebrated as Tihar. It is a five-day-long festival celebrated during Yama-Panchak which starts from Dhan-Teras and lasts up to Bhai-Dooj. The five-day festival is considered to be of great importance as it shows reverence to not just the humans and the Gods, but also to the animals like crows, cows and dogs who maintain an intense relationship with humans.
AT GIRLS HOSTEL IN CHITWAN DISTRICT
Girls staying in the Hostel in Bharatpur, Chitwan, merrily celebrated the beautiful festival 'Deepawali'. This hostel is funded by Bay Area, CA coalition of Livermore Temple, Indian Association of San Joaquin County (IASJC), Indian Association of Sacrameto through Sewa International, USA. In addition, IASJC is sponsoring 4 children annually under the Sewa’s Sponsor a Child program for their upkeep.
After its hugely successful Nrityameva Jayate event in 2016, the Boston Chapter of Sewa International hosted a similar event at the Keefe Technical School in Framingham, MA on November 5, 2017, for its fifth annual fundraiser. Over 825 people attended the event which raised over $45,000 to be used for various community service projects of Sewa International such as rehabilitating victims of Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria, feeding the hungry, yoga for humanity and education of underserved children.
The Nrityameva Jayate’17 program was organized to promote volunteerism and create awakening among people to serve those in need. 286 Students from 19 leading dance schools of the New England area participated in a dance competition with spellbinding performances of Classical, Folk and Bollywood dance forms captivating the audience for seven hours. In addition, 15 students of music enthralled the audience with musical performances. The program received overwhelming support from the community.
The program began with a melodious rendition of invocation mantras by students of Poorna Chandrika School of Music and ‘deep prajwallan’ (Light of lamp) by judges for the event. The buoyant emcee Ms. Yogita Miharia welcomed the audience, the chief guest; Dr. Udit Batra, dance & music participants, the dance Gurus and distinguished Judges. She kept the audience engaged and appealed to them to generously donate to Sewa International for supporting the service projects. Ms. Taejasvi Narayan, and Ms. Raji Jakkam introduced to the audience each of the 41 entries in the event.
The program was arranged in four age groups. While distributing prizes to event’s youngest participants in the 6-9 year’s age group, Shri Ashwani Garg, VP of Administration in the national team of Sewa International, explained to the audience how the act of Sewa is a Yagna and thanked each dance participant and audience for contributing their ‘Ahuti’ (offering) in this yagna. He also thanked Mahadev Group, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial for their continued support to Sewa International. Shri Srinivas Bachu, President of the Telugu Association of Greater Boston, and guest of honor for the event, distributed prizes to winners in the 10-13 year’s age group. He talked about the importance of community service. The performances by participants in 13-17 year’s age group invited great applause from the audience. Ms. Priya Rathod, Director of Nursing Services at Amrit Sabha Adult Day Care Center and Guest of honor for the event, distributed prizes to the winners in this category. She shared with the audience how Amrit Sabha has had a long-standing partnership with Sewa International and conveyed her deep appreciation for the work done by Sewa’s volunteers.
This was followed by high-octane dance performances by the adult age group which mesmerized the audience with their talent. During the concluding ceremony, Sewa volunteer Mr. Subba Raju Datla talked about Sewa’s rescue, relief, and rehabilitation efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria. He introduced the chief guest of the event Dr. Udit Batra, CEO MilliporeSigma a Life Sciences company of Merck KGaA. Dr. Batra congratulated all the Sewa volunteers for organizing such a successful event and explained that Sewa means performing service without expecting anything in return. Dr. Batra presided over the concluding ceremony and distributed prizes to the winners in the adult age group.
Sewa also hosted Rangoli and Henna (Mehandi) competitions during the event and several people participated in them. The program ended with a vote of thanks by Sewa volunteer Dr. Pramod Pandey who expressed gratitude to every attendee and participant in the event for supporting the Sewa’s cause. He invited the audience to join the Sewa team and become an active part of this historic movement.
EVENT PICTURES (courtsey Subroto Mukherjee Photography )
Sewa International, Chicago chapter hosted Rishte Nate - a spectacular musical show on Nov 4 at Swaminarayan Mandir, IL. The program was organized to raise funds for the victims of the recent disaster - Harvey, IRMA and Maria, and, Sponsor a Child - a program that sponsors the education of underprivileged chldren in India and Nepal.
Award winning participants from the musical school Swara Sadhana, and five dance schools Swaralaya, Utkalaa, Dancing Petals, Indian Dance School, and Nartan gave a spell bound performance leaving the audience mesmerized.
Watch report on TV Asia
On 24th September , Sewa USA Milwaukee Chapter volunteers, also known as Milwaukee Diyas organised "Adopt-A-Highway" community service event to clean litter along Wisconsin Highway 190 also called as Capitol Drive.
13 middle school youth volunteers & 3 adults volunteered to clean this stretch in 2 hours on a Sunday morning in scorching heat.
A feedback session followed the activity and all youth gave amazing reasons and responses to why they wanted to do community service. Some responses :
1. "It feels good that's why I do community service"
2. "It's the right thing to do , hence I do community service"
3. "I need community ser ice hours for school hence I do it and also it's a nice thing to do"
4. "If I were home, my mom would have made me study , so instead I volunteered to do community service and hang with my age friends"
5."I don't know"
6." I just like to do community service and hence I did it"
7. " My mom told me to do it hence I did it"
Everyone had a snack and showed interest in doing more such community service activities.
Sewa means doing service without any expectations . Join us by liking our page and telling your friends. More events planned for the community we live in.
Enjoy some photos :
Sewa Cleveland organized "Yoga as Medicine" - a workshop for yoga trainers, physicians, and other medical professionals seeking to be well-informed about yoga therapy as a safe, non-invasive alternative for health improvement.
After the workshop, participants were able to understand potential use of yoga as therapy and to consider further education and application in healthcare practice.
Sewa volunteers Drs., Rupesh Raina, Preeti Gandhi, and Reema Gulati organized the event at Metro General Hospital - a leading inner city hospital in Cleveland. Participants received 3.5 Continuing Medical Education credits (CME) - thanks to the efforts of Drs. Raina and Gulati.
The workshop was well attended by 80 enthusiastic participants including 65 physicians. The indomitable Sewa Cleveland Operations team of Viji Vijay, Anil Kumar Singh and Padma Jambunath under the able leadership of Dr. Hira Fotedar executed the conference logistics and marketing making event of Saturday, Aug 5.
Sewa International USA conducted a family workshop on College readiness for
current high school students and their parents on March 5, 2016 at Radha Madhav
Society Duluth, GA. This event was offered free as a service to the community. This
workshop was the part of series of workshops planned under the family services
project of Sewa International in Atlanta and other cities in the US.
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