Written By: Shreenija Daggavolu (Grade 11) & Samiksha Gaherwar (Grade 11)
As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the nation, Sewa International, which, as an organization, has always specialized in disaster relief and rehabilitation, has enacted multifaceted programs and efforts across the United States. One particular endeavor in Connecticut exemplifies the ideals of the humanitarian non-profit under their first Dharmic guiding principles, “Serving Humanity is Serving Divinity”. The inspiring collective effort of over 26 distinct organizations facilitated the acknowledgment and recognition of the Hindu community in the state.
An infographic with an overview of the Connecticut State-level efforts with 26 organizations working together
Vikram ji Bhandari, a Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) volunteer, recognized that they had donated approximately 20,000 masks to multiple hospitals and other beneficiaries. Their initial goal was to donate around 1,000 masks, but as the effort progressed, they were able to surpass this target. Additionally, the Connecticut vibhag gave accommodations and support to 17 tourists, around a six week period, who were stuck due to flight cancellations. Another significant project was food drives. Vikram ji mentioned that the vibhag was able to provide meals to hospitals and first responders as a “thank you gesture.” He said that they wanted to show recognition and appreciate them for their selfless services.
Sewa4Community Donating masks to local hospitals
Vikram ji explained, while the effort was an undeniable success in its pandemic-related alleviation impacts, it was the beginning of much more in the state of Connecticut. What had started as a Diwali syndicate of local Dharma and Sewa groups had metamorphosed in Sewa4Community, a unified service effort fueled by the integration of distinct organizations. “We need to work together as a community,” Vikram ji remarked. “Not as individuals or organizations – people in the United States need to recognize the contributions of the Hindu community. This is our country, we [Hindus]…should have a say. It should be a visible effort by the [Hindu] community.” He emphasized how Hindus are viewed all as one collective entity by others and how the collaboration of organizations contributed to imparting the importance of Hindu voice in the community as they proved themselves to be passionate, altruistic citizens. He expressed hope that this initiative will help the community “see the effort from Hindus as a single entity.”
Mask donations and Thank-you cards
To recognize the work done, the organizers aim to bring the effort to attention at a state level, sending letters to mayors, city officials, state senators, medical staff, and even the governor alongside notes of gratitude to public service and frontline workers. He acknowledged that the greatest challenge to truly piloting a cohesive endeavor was “putting all [the 26 organizations] on a single platform”, yet he expresses that, in the end, the Sewa4Community effort paid off with unquestionable success. He added that the collective organization demonstrated a promise for the future and hopes that it can serve as a testament to inspire further undertakings.