Seva Mandir

Seva Mandir's mission is to make real the idea of society consisting of free and equal citizens who are able to come together and solve the problems that affect them in their particular contexts. The commitment is to work for a paradigm of development and governance that is democratic and polyarchic. Seva Mandir seeks to institutionalise the idea that development and governance is not only to be left to the State and its formal bodies like the legislature and the bureaucracy, but that citizens and their associations should engage separately and jointly with the State. The mission briefly, is to construct the conditions in which citizens of plural backgrounds and perspectives can come togethe...
Jun 7, 2013

A Wonderful Achievement for our Education Program

Children at our Education Center
Children at our Education Center

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you today to share some news about a wonderful accomplishment for the Seva Mandir Education Program. After being on the verge of having to close down our successful NFE primary schools, we are happy to announce that the Government of Rajasthan has officially legalized them as education centers. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, implemented by the Indian Government in 2009, has demonstrated progress in the rights based approach to ensuring education for all.  However, under this act, one-size-fits-all criteria were set out for what constitutes a “school” such as, number of classrooms, toilet facilities, and level of teacher qualification.  Our primary schools, which do not meet this criterion but deliver a top quality education to over 5,000 of the region’s most impoverished children every year,faced closure.

It took the Seva Mandir family over 2 years of hard work to save the program and ensure the continued education of the children in our work area.  We carried out a study that found that 49% of children are still out of school in the remote areas where Seva Mandir schools operate.  We lobbied intensely, arguing that despite the Government’s promise of education for all, Seva Mandir is vital and necessary until the State can deliver on that promise.  Finally, just days ago, the Government provided us a chance to prove our work.  4 teams of Government officials conducted random surprise checkups on 11 of our NFE centers. 10 out of 11 were open, and after full day observations the officials concluded that the learning levels in our schools were significantly above those found in Government schools.  Furthermore, the officials praised our schools’ efficiency, and recognized the fact that we are doing more than Government with fewer inputs. As a result of their experience on the ground, and after vetting our curriculum and teaching material, the State of Rajasthan has legalized our NFEs by according them the status of Special Training Centers (STCs).  In concluding meetings, officials resolved that if society was so accepting of the program then it was important for the government to follow suit. As our NFE schools are now legitimized we can continue to provide the neediest and most marginalized children with a quality education.  This is a tremendous achievement for Seva Mandir and all of our wonderful supporters. Thank you for contributing to this success and for your continued support!

If you wish to continue your support for the education of children in southern Rajasthan, on June 12th Global Giving’s Bonus Rewards Day will allow you to make an even bigger difference. By matching your donation by 50%, your contribution will go that much further to ensuring the education that all children deserve.

Warm regards,

Deepti

 

 

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Jun 7, 2013

You can help us save even more lives

Mother with her child in an immunization camp
Mother with her child in an immunization camp

Dear Friends,

            Thank you for your continued support of our immunization program! With your help, we have made significant strides in improving the health standards of children and young mothers across the region. We have conducted immunization camps across 113 different hamlets, reaching out to remote and rural areas that have previously not received this essential care. In 2012-2013, we were able to immunize 1,324 children, perform 1,553 antenatal checkups, and provide treatment for routine ailments.

In southern Rajasthan, with immunization rates as low as 19% in certain areas, the need for programs such as ours is severe. The health of children and young mothers across the region still presents a significant problem. However, a recent study in 2009 in collaboration with J-PAL of MIT has shown that 60% of children in our intervention areas have received complete immunization, compared to only 35% in non-intervention areas.This year we strove to increase the supply and demand of immunization throughout our work area. We provided regular, reliable, and well-publicized camps, and offered incentives to parents to ensure that they would bring their children to be immunized.

We hope to continue reducing the mortality rates in the area by making complete immunization accessible and ultimately, the norm. Esteemed MIT professors Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo recognized the high quality of our efforts. After conducting a study in 2009, they stated in their book Poor Economics that, “Seva Mandir’s immunization program is one of the most impressive we have ever evaluated, and probably the one that has saved the most lives”.

Our wish is to maintain this high level of quality and performance in our immunization program, and with your help we can. On June 12th, Global Giving will match 50% of your donation to our project. Thank you again for your support of Seva Mandir’s work!

Sincerely,

Deepti

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May 9, 2013

Annual Report: Thank you for helping us reach over 700 villages!

Villagers begin a project with a ritual
Villagers begin a project with a ritual

Dear Friends,

As Seva Mandir has now helped establish over 700 village groups, this is an historical year for us. We thank you dearly for helping us get this far, and hope you will remain by our side as we continue to grow. Below is an update on our Village Institution Program, and the progress we have made in the past year (April 2012 - March 2013).

The Village Institution Program of Seva Mandir aims to create and nurture alternative and autonomous platforms through which the communities can take responsibility for their own development. The need for this program arose as a result of the limited capacity of panchayats (the most local level of the formal government) to effectively respond to community needs, fragmentation of communities over a wide variety of issues, and the lack of a developmental outlook at the village level. This program intends to create an atmosphere where the positive forces of cooperation, transparency, equity, justice, and responsible autonomy within the community can help in leading towards an overall development of their villages.

The Village Institutions Program has three components:

  1. Samuh (the general body of villager-members of the village institution)
  2. Gram Vikas Kosh (GVK or Village Development Fund, built up through community contributions and with support from Seva Mandir, and used to fund local development interventions)
  3. Gram Vikas Committee (GVC or elected Village Development Committee, responsible for leading the local development process)

In brief, here are some of the main highlights from this year:

  • 35 new village groups have been formed this year, bringing our total to 704. These groups are the prerequisites to the formation of the GVK/GKC.
  • The total membership of villagers to this program has increased by 2,181. There are now nearly 58,000 people a part of our program!
  • The total number of GVKs (village funds) stands at 618. Eight communities have withdrawn their funds this year.
  • The total amount of money held by the GVKs has increased by Rs. 2,920,710 ($54,087), at a grand total of $780,644.
  • 13 new GVCs have formed to effectively govern their community funds. The total number of GVCs is 532.
  • 13 GVCs have received management and accounting training this year, bringing the total to 525.
  • Female membership of GVCs has increased by 200.
  • 63 GVCs are now operating with 100% autonomy, without any Seva Mandir support.

As you can see, this has been an incredibly successful year for the program. Every donation helps Seva Mandir provide training and workshops so that these communities can learn how to effectively manage their own development. With your help, these communities are not simply passive recipients of aid; they are taking matters into their own hands.

With regards,

Deepti

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