Chicago, IL: Sewa Interna-tional, a nonprofit charitable Hindu-faith based organization, held its fifth national conference and workshop, at the Holiday Inn, Rolling Medows, from April 29 to May 1.
The event was inaugurated with the lightening ceremony by Consul Vishwas Sapkal and Shanti mantra chanting by Yashaswini Desai. Young volunteers sang American and Indian national anthem. Anil Deshpande welcomed the gathering.
Srikant Konda, founder president of SEWA International, introduced visiting delegates from India, Ramesh Mehta, SEWA director from Mumbai, and Shyam Prande, global coordinator from New Delhi. Ramesh Mehta is actively involved in Women’s Empowerment in Kutch, Gujarat and many other locations in India and outside.
Shyam Parande, provided an overview of Sewa Interna- tional’s involvement in the community and its growth.
Shyam Prande said there were over 165,000 projects run by Sewa and it had partnering organizations in 17 countries, including India, Nepal, Kenya, the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and Caribbean countries. Sharing stories of despair, courage, help and endurance from his tour of Northern Sri Lanka after the end of Sri Lankan military operations there, Prande said there were 90,000 orphans and 45,000 widows, who needed immediate assistance. He also revealed that Sewa would take up relief and resettlement efforts in Sri Lanka on a priority this year. Prande and his team were also helping in recent Japan earthquake relief efforts.
Dr. Sreenath, SEWA president, said about 1,000 Sewa volunteers put in more than 70,000 hours of community service in 2010. Its volunteer -driven nature and keen focus on providing services with very low administrative overheads had set Sewa apart from other non-profits.
Dr. Sreenath said Sewa or volunteerism was universal across all the faiths, promo-ting universal brotherhood (Vasudhaika kutumbkam) with holistic approach. “Volunteer-ing nature brings the community closer and also involves personal growth. Sewa volunteers across the country will plan and organize several service activities to benefit the local community on the National Sewa Day, September 11. Service events such as blood donation and food drives for local homeless shelters would be conducted in 38 cities in 22 states and 20 metro areas across the USA. A new Sewa chapter in Chicago has been set up,” he added. .
Darshan Soni, vice president of SEWA, shared his own inspirational experience and presentation to the audience. He said; “National Sewa Day, a concept initially popularized by Sewa International, UK, will involve hundreds of Indian-American engineers, physicians, professors, business people and students. Sewa volunteers include concerned Americans and second-generation Indian-American students and professionals.”
Addressing the public event organized as part of the conference, Consul Vishwas Sapkal praised Sewa volunteers for their dedication and recalled how Indian government officials sought Sewa’s help during disaster relief efforts in the past. Requesting Sewa to take up a project to help the Indian American community with their consulate needs such as PIO and OCI cards, Sapkal appreciated Sewa for helping build volunteerism in the community.
The cultural program presented on the occasion, included patriotic song by Meghana Kulkarni, bhajans, Bhutanese group dance, and performance by Avni Patel.
Gurudatt Ramamurthy and Deshpande proposed a vote of thanks.
For more information about Sewa projects, please visit Web site: www.sewausa.orgSource: http://www.indiatribune.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5936:sewa-international-usa-holds-national-conference-in-chicago&catid=25:community&Itemid=457