succesor to ex Chief Executive Seva Mandir
Greetings from Seva Mandir!!
I have three things to say before we talk about the project you are supporting.
One -we participated in a fund raising event on Global Giving UK last month. The challenge Top 10 wins challenge (1st to 14th March) required the participant projects to raise at least of £ 500 with minimum of 25 donors. Seva Mandir participated with its project “Improving Food Security for Tribal Farmers in India”. This project helps 5000 poor, marginalized farmers in rural Udaipur to have better crops and thus earn more money/food. This is done through a variety of programs including – seed bank program, using organic manure prepared with the help of earth worms (vermin-composting), growing cash crops like vegetables (preparing nurseries) for self sustenance and income generation. You would be very happy to note that this project raised £705 from 31 donors in the Top 10 Wins Challenge and therefore it won a bonus prize of £300. It is a perfect gift on this Holi for our farmers.
Secondly, on the 19th and 20th March we celebrated our festival Holi (festival of colors in India http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holi). The festival is also a symbol of celebrating the harvest of winter crop in our region. This festival signifies the end of our winters and beginning of summer. March is also our financial year end and therefore it is wonderful to end our year with lots of support from people like you and having a good harvest at this Holi. And
Finally, this year, at this point of time, Seva Mandir is going through some change. Our ex Chief Executive Ms. Neelima Khetan has stepped down on March 31st. She has spent 25 years with Seva Mandir and the last twelve years as the Chief Executive. The organization excelled during her time and with her leadership marked a number of achievements. Though she has left us due to our constitutional norms, we are very happy to have her as our Trustee on Seva Mandir Board. Her continuing association with Seva Mandir is very assuring for all of us.
Ms. Priyanka Singh has taken over as Chief Executive of Seva Mandir from April 2011. She has spent over thirteen years with Seva Mandir heading Education and Health program and leading Badgaon Block (a geographical unit for our work). She has a post graduate degree in rural development from the same institute as Ms. Khetan did. She is very capable and a great person to work with. With her deep understanding of issues in rural development and support from all our friends like you, we are very much looking forward to seeing Seva Mandir keep doing its good work in the next years to come. At this point of time, we all look for your continuous support and faith for many more years of working together.
The fellows you are supporting are creating milestones in engaging and creating awareness towards social norms existing within these rural communities.
Shankar Lal one of the fellows is always trying to get everyone involved in addressing any social issue in his village. He would consult every member of the community door to door for building a consensus and allowing people to share their thoughts on a particular issue. He is a natural leader and is loved by his people. The Witchcraft (Dakan) is a very common social problem in his village. A number of women have been tortured and accused of being witches in our region. Shankar Lal has been advocating for dismissal of this practice.
Recently he addressed this problem when Laxmi (wife of Kanti Lal) was severely abused and tortured by her brother-in-law. The brother-in-law has been accusing Laxmi for being a Dakan for the past five years now. He claims Laxmi’s presence has impacted negatively the family. These allegations began to affect Laxmi’s physical and mental health. Shankar Lal wanted to help Laxmi because he thought this is a social problem and it needs to be addressed properly. The various trainings he had attended at Seva Mandir encouraged him to take up this issue strategically.
Shankar Lal approached the village elders and leaders to advocate Laxmi’s case. He prepared a list of all the women who had been victimized as dakan in the past. He asked all the women who were victims of Witchcraft to attend this meeting and encouraged them to speak up. Each woman shared her story and demanded help.
The village elders asked the concerned families of these women to stop torturing them. In case of any further torture (physical or mental) the families would be penalized heavily. In a couple of cases (the serious ones) the village elders lodged complaints with the police. The decision by the village elders brought some relief to these women.
Shankar Lal mobilized others in the village about this issue and is currently advocating eradication of Dakan practice. He visits home to home and tries to educate everyone about the results of this issue on woman’s physical and mental health, impact on children and the overall family economic health. Shankar lal has been successful in resolving several issues and creating awareness in his village. For Shankar Lal the struggle doesn’t end with Laxmi’s case and he is constantly working on this issue. It is very inspiring to note Shankar’s enthusiasm and sensibility.
Thank you so much for supporting Shankar Lal. It is your support that is helping several village leaders to address social issues in their own regions. We hope you will continue to support this program. Please do also consider to encourage our new team and leadership.
Happy Holi to you and your family from all of us here.