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 tog...
Apr 18, 2016

Empowering Farmers for a Prosperous Tomorrow

Dear Friend,

In 2008, Seva Mandir had set up a community enterprise- “Lentil Processing Unit- Dal Mill” in Medi village in Southern Rajasthan in India. This unit procures raw lentils from the farmers directly (thus cutting the middle man commission), hence providing them fair price for their produce, process the lentils, and find a niche market for the processed lentils.

The idea of setting up the Dal Mill had certain objectives attached to it. The farmers from tribal areas had to take their produce to the main market at the district level for selling, this involved additional transport cost and state road taxes. The setting up of dal mill proved to be a beneficial deal for the farmers. Not only do they get good price but they save on the transportation costs as well. One more key feature apart from the fair price was the regularity in making the payment for the purchase; the farmers get the money instantly at Seva Mandir’s Dal mill without any delay.

Harish, a farmer from the Cheekhla village came to Dal Mill which is about 5 Kms away. When asked as to why he and other farmers chose to sell their produce to Seva Mandir’s Dal Mill over the nearest market. He said “Not only do farmers get a fair price for their produce but there is transparency in the functioning of the mill and payment is made instantaneously for the produce being sold”.

Harish feels that Dal Mill has helped farmers a lot by not only saving their transportation costs and offering the fair price but also preventing the situation of distress selling to the local dealers at the time of crisis. He has been selling his produce to the Dal Mill for a couple of years now.

This year we are planning to buy a mini truck to transport the processed lentils from the unit to the Udaipur city for selling.  I am sure, your continued support will help us achieve our commitments at the field. We would have not been able to manage such a setup had your support not been there.  Thank you so much for your trust in Seva Mandir. Should your travel brings you to this side of the world, please do consider visiting Seva Mandir.

With Warm Regards

Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sevamandir

Links:

Mar 25, 2016

Supporting Poor Farmers in Rural India.. Thank You

Farmer working on his field in southern Rajasthan
Farmer working on his field in southern Rajasthan

Dear Friend,

Thank you for supporting our project “Provide Enough Food for Poor Farmers in India”.

Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood in the Seva Mandir working area, and nearly 93% households are self-employed farmers. Unfortunately, agriculture contributes very little to household incomes and many households even fail to produce enough for their own food security this is due to a variety of factors. Increase in population has led to a decrease in the size of landholdings, and shortage of rainfall outside of the monsoon season makes it difficult for farmers to reap more than one crop a year. Low quality seeds and inefficient practices also decrease productivity levels.

Over the past years, Seva Mandir has identified and promoted a range of activities to address the challenges of agricultural development in the area. In previous years, horticulture badis (orchards) were raised across all blocks. Saplings of various fruit trees, including gooseberry, lemon, mango and guava were planted in these badis. New experiments were also conducted in agro-forestry, in which horticulture plants were planted in pastures and private wastelands. These activities were being planted throughout the region, to provide communities with more benefits from their efforts of regenerating their lands. Additionally, vegetable nurseries were raised and the saplings were sold to other farmers in the area, thereby increasing vegetable consumption in tribal families and providing them with an opportunity to sell excess produce as cash crops.

Farmers in our region largely use the same seeds for many years or use hybrid seeds that have to be replaced every year, resulting in low productivity. Hundreds of kilograms of seeds, including maize, black gram, sismum, kulat and green gram were supplied to farmers of various villages in order to revitalize seed supplies. New seed banks for wheat, gram, and maize were also established, providing a means to replenish and store seed varieties.

Other activities that have contributed to agricultural development include the construction of vermi-compost beds to provide a source of organic fertilizer and animal husbandry camps that provide vaccination to cattle.

Through these ventures, Seva Mandir has provided farmers in the region with an opportunity to revitalize depleted resources, sustain their traditional methods of production, and eventually generate new sources of income.

All this has been possible due to your consistent support and trust in us. We would like to thank you so much for letting us meet our commitments at the field.  We have been able to benefit more than 10,000 farmers through various interventions. These farmers can now grow enough food in their fields and don’t have to migrate from farming in absence of basic necessities. We hope to continue our work with your support. Should your travel bring you to this part of the world, please do consider visiting Seva Mandir. For any feedback / suggestions, please visit me at atul.lekhra@sevamandir.org

Regards

Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir

Flourished wheat farm
Flourished wheat farm
Women taking vegetables from the farm
Women taking vegetables from the farm
Yield of lemons from a Farmer
Yield of lemons from a Farmer's orchid

Links:

Mar 21, 2016

Seva Mandir's schools: Providing Quality Education in Rural Rajasthan

The school, from outside
The school, from outside

Dear Friends,

We thank you for your support to our project!

We want to share with you thoughts pen down by Elisabetta from Italy who has recently volunteered with us. Every year, Seva Mandir hosts around 150 volunteers from all over the world. Below, you find a glimpse of her experience at Seva Mandir.

Having completed my BA in Social Anthropology at the University of Bologna, where I had been focusing on the Indian subcontinent, I really wanted to fulfill my dream to come to India. I wanted to see with my eyes the magic hidden in this ancient country, touching with my hands both the beauty and the problems. I also desired to be useful for people around me, trying my hands at doing something practical, and especially, due to my interest in pursuing a master in international development, I wanted to learn how NGOs work and carry our their projects in rural areas. Seva Mandir, that means “the temple of service”, met all my deepest expectations. I wish to share with you one of the most special experience that I've done, that brought me close to those who most suffer the absence of basic needs in the society: the children.

During my staying at Seva Mandir as a volunteer I had the chance to visit a bridge school located in a rural area around 20 km from Udaipur(Rajasthan). Seva Mandir has been running these schools for many years, showing promising results in promoting primary education amongst out-of-school children of tribal and rural communities. These schools serve as bridge schools to provide the children with a basic grounding in main subjects, such as Hindi, math and elementary English and help them to transit into government school as soon as they reach an adequate level of knowledge.

In these areas, the dusty and hilly terrain dominates the surroundings, making it hard for the population to carry on, and especially for children to go to school. The poverty, lack of transportation, lack of near schools and the family needs that force children to help with chores and agricultural work, are all serious factors preventing children from attending school. Despite the environment challenges and social constraints, the beauty of the surrounding landscape strucks me and makes my trip to these hard-to-reach areas worth every moment of it.

At the first helmet, I visited, the jeep stopped in front of the school. While I was approaching the building, I could hear the children' s voices filling the dusty air, and as I stepped in, I was warmly welcomed by an enthusiastic but still composed “Namaste” of a bunch of around 20 children. At the beginning, I was feeling bad for having interrupted their daily activities and lessons.A smiling young boy standing proudly in front of me recited a poem about “patang”, the kite, one of the most popular games played by children in Rajasthan.

During my visit, the teacher pointed at a small boy and told me about his life. He's Anand, and together with his small brother walks to school every day from his house, quite far from the school. I was told that he is from a very poor family but his father is very keen on getting them a good education. After having taken part in some activities with the children, we set off, leaving that small place full of hope, desires and smiles.

This visit made me realize how Seva Mandir's action is essential for those children, since it might be the only opportunity for them to study. Despite the difficult social and financial background, those children really try their best to learn and not to waste any single moment. These areas are really far to reach and without these schools is literally impossible for those children to get access to education; instead, they might be forced into domestic chores or, even worse, end up in child labour. Honestly, this experience was even more rewarding than I could have ever hoped. I really wish that everyone could have the chance to see with his own eyes the deep-rooted change that Seva Mandir is making in these remote areas, how many efforts had been put into the project, and therefore sustain these amazing schools.

I really thank Seva Mandir for having given me the opportunity to discover this extraordinary country, that I've been wanting to visit for a long time, through the eyes of those who spend their lives to help other people.

Elisabetta

 

 

I am sure you enjoyed reading Elisabetta’s experience. If your travel brings you to this side of the world, do consider visiting us. Please do reach us at atul.lekhra@sevamandir.org


Please, follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sevamandir

With best regards,
Atul Lekhra

A bunch of 20 children welcomed my with"Namaste!"
A bunch of 20 children welcomed my with"Namaste!"
A smiling young boy recited a poem on kites
A smiling young boy recited a poem on kites
Posters and books.At the centre, the poem on kites
Posters and books.At the centre, the poem on kites
Children while attending their lesson
Children while attending their lesson
Anand
Anand
Anand and his brother
Anand and his brother
Anand and his brother enjoy especially reading
Anand and his brother enjoy especially reading
We set off, leaving that small place full of hope
We set off, leaving that small place full of hope
Thank you again for this experience! Elisabetta
Thank you again for this experience! Elisabetta
 
   

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