By Shobana Muratee
STAFFORD – The mood was genuinely benevolent as the donations poured in at the Sewa International, Houston Gala held on Sunday, September 8, at the Stafford Center. Awe inspiring speeches, videos and testimonials from those touched by the service of Sewa International continued throughout the event. About 625 guests attended the gala and helped reach its goal of raising $300,000 that night.
Chief Guest, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi enlivened the mood with his witty remarks of how he was ‘affectionately’ referred to as ‘Samosa Caucus’ being one of four desis in the US Congress. On a serious note, he spoke of the principals that Sewa International was founded on specifically three that stood out for him being: service above self, dharmic principal of ‘serving humanity is serving divinity’, and considering all of humanity as one family ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.”
Congressman Krishnamoorthi lauded Sewa’s efforts during Hurricane Harvey mentioning how the organization raised $1.5m and helped 2000 family. Sewa received and administered $1 million on behalf of the government as well as red cross and other charities. “When disaster struck you responded not with rhetoric but with action, not with judgement but kindness and not by pointing fingers but with spirit of unity. That is a Sewa spirit.” “We need the Sewa spirit everywhere including in Washington DC”, he said.
Houston Chapter president Gitesh Desai, quoting from Rig Veda said: “Krinvanto VishwamAryam – Let us make this world a noble place to live in.” He appealed, “let us join together and donate our time, talent and treasure as means of service, a pathway to evolve our better self which in turn will realize a more productive and progressive, hopeful and peaceful world.”
Keynote Speaker, Ann Scott, HISD Foundation Executive Director, detailed the disastrous impact of Hurricane Harvey on schools. Out of 286 school campuses, not one campus in HISD was spared of the water intrusion, she said. “Every single HISD school district was impacted.” Seven schools were extensively impacted and “Sewa International reached out to us and that accentuates your motto ‘together we serve better,’ she said. Thousand students of Braeburn Elementary School, located on the SW side of Houston were left without a school. Sewa provided funds, community space, food and other services for “Braeburn Elementary will see the kindness of this organization”, she said.
Jugal Malani, a leading entrepreneur, President of India House and ardent supporter of Sewa International was honored for his services to community in Houston. “He is a supporter of all dharmic causes,” said Chairman of the Board Ramesh Bhutada about Malani. He then presented Malani with a shawl as mark of respect and was joined by Gitesh Desai on stage.
With the gala’s focus on “No child should be deprived of education,” Surender Trehan, put in perspective the role of Sewa International’s objectives. He gave an overview of the “Mobile School Program” and how buses were converted to classroom to serve children of construction workers.
Abby Olivia did and excellent job as the gala Emcee.
Nikil Jain Chapter Jt. Coordinator proposed a vote of thanks and recognized Sustained Partners: S-VYASA, Star Pipes / Keshav Smruti, HISD, Good 360, Heart Grant, Bharathi Kalai Manram, Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America, Kannada Vrinda, Floodplain and Building Permit Office Brazoria County. He thanked his team Chapter Coordinator, Achalesh Amar, Kavita Tewary, Executive Director, Jagruti Sarkar Project Corordinator, Executive members: Anita Ravat, Dinesh Shah, and Vasudev Singh.
A host of organizations were Awarded Recognition for their service to SEWA International. They included:
Alings Chinese Bistro: Sponsoring food for volunteers in the Rebuild Project in Rosharon Texas.
American Red Cross: Partner for Rosharon relief and rehabilitation project. Recently they gave grant of $500,000 to Sewa for building 35 houses in Rosharon.
Arya Samaj: Conducted free community workshop on Health & Wellness and Education & Information with Seewa.
Ascend Performance Materials: support communities they serve including one in Rosharon, Texas, where they support rebuilding of 2 green houses with Sewa.
Attack Poverty: helping us complete the homes from Phase I of Sewa’s Repair & Rebuild project.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha: facilitated Sewa by providing generous amount of Mandir’s blessed satvik food to be delivered on daily basis to patients and their families .
Brazoria County Emergency Management Office: Were also part of the Unmet need Team and helped Sewa complete 8 homes in Phase I at Rosharon.
Gayatri Consciousness Center: Partnered with Sewa to conduct the SDM camps .Godavari: Godavari Indian Restaurant: helped Sewa with their catering services multiple times this year.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh: partners with Sewa locally & Internationally .
International Mangement District: IMD sponsors the Sewa Houston after school Language Academy Program at Young blood Intermediary since the last 2 years . Till date,they have donated $5000 towards this program
Jain Society of Houston: JSH has been supporting Sewa for years supporting Sewa events
Mardi Gras Group-Marquette University: These kids live in the community and put in 8-10 hours per day for almost a week , every time they visit.
Mosaic In Action: They are also helping with the livelihood project by committing resources towards purchase of Green houses.
Sage Productions: Emcee Abby Olivia, Sage volunteered with Sewa International over last 3 years
Sathya Sai International Organization: They are the most consistent partner in Rosharon helping with providing materials for the houses and bringing volunteers regularly.
United Way of Brazoria: they are in process of disbursing funds for 2 more homes (PHASE II of the project) and are patiently reviewing 2 pending cases with the Unmet need committee.
For more details visit www.sewausa.org