By Mehul Jivanji, Nandini Shah, Trishna Patel
International Sewa Day – Sunday 7th, October, a day of selfless service without expectation. Thousands of people in the UK participated in voluntary projects to help relieve hardship and poverty, help the environment, bring joy to others, and be the change we wish to see in the world. National Hindu Students’ Forum UK (NHSF) were engaged in several projects locally in homeless shelters, temples, countryside parks and many more. This year Sewa Day has been recognised by the Prince of Wales, who “hopes that the spirit of service which Sewa Day embodies will continue to grow and bring happiness and satisfaction to everyone who is touched by it”.
Three different projects were undertaken by NHSF Leeds and other local organisations of the Hindu Community such as Hindu Swayemsevak Sangh (UK). One project was based in the Alzheimer’s Society Care Home where we spent our time cleaning and reshaping the garden. The second project involved redecorating a member of the Asian Blind Association’s home – all three projects were embraced full by all the volunteers. Finally, other volunteers were located in Ilkley Moor, in the Yorkshire countryside, carrying out tree plantation.
Volunteers of the final project were greeted by a friendly face who took them up a steep, winding pathway to where a number of other volunteers had congregated to also carry out conservation work. The project leader explained how the presence of deer and rabbits in the moor meant the young trees were vulnerable to damage and how it’s important to develop a structure to protect the trees from being eaten. The aim for the day was to build as many of these metal wire structures within the woodland area as possible and scatter fallen pine cones within them. With that knowledge and a determined mindset the volunteers carried the equipment they would need to the woodland. Despite slipping a few times on the waterlogged ground, volunteers remained upbeat and persevered with the task at hand, and took any setbacks with a pinch of salt.
Our arrangement had to be precise in order to ensure stability and this involved a great deal of team work. Although a time consuming task, with many pauses to think, our task was almost complete. Having enlisted the help of Hindu Swayemsevak Sangh (UK) volunteers from Bradford who helped find suitable pine cones for plantation, it was inspiring to see the level of leadership and intuition displayed by them.
Sewa Day is an important day and recognised globally, making one realise how vital it is to conserve the environment and protect the local community. Volunteers are at the core of making things happen and the importance of sewa in everyday life became clear. Spending time in Ilkley has urged many to continue volunteering and strive to be the change.