Real people, real projects, inspiring actions – Sewa Pioneers’ Award
NHSF (UK) National Vice President
Sewa Pioneers’ Awards held at Portcullis House on Wednesday, 24 June celebrated and honoured the great work carried out all over the UK and around the world on Sewa Day last year. The awards presented by a number of distinguished guests, including Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP, RT Hon Keith Vaz MP, Bob Blackman MP, Gareth Thomas MP, Steve Pound MP, Shailesh Vara MP, Seema Malhotra MP, Steve Ballmer MP and Nina Wadia recognised social service projects that create a positive impact on local communities and act as a catalyst to inspire further selfless action by others. The judging panels was made up of Reena Rangers, the Chairman and Founder of Women Empowered, Rajay Naik and Jigna. M. Patel.
So what is Sewa? Sewa is a Sanskrit word that means ‘selfless service’. While it is embedded in Hindu Dharma, it is a universal concept which involves performing an act of kindness without an expectation of reward. Sewa Day encourages different cultures and faiths to all promote the same idea.
A theme that ran through the evening was emphasised when Barry Gardiner MP spoke about how time is expensive. He explained that anyone can put their hands in their pockets and pick out a few coins, but time is precious, and to donate that is far more powerful – exactly what Sewa Day’s main ideology is – to give time.
A wise man once said ‘the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others’. Mahatma Gandhi’s message of selfless service is one of the core principles of Sewa Day, and this was another message that resonated through many of the speeches. Sewa Day exists to engage as many people as possible in Sewa so that they may build it into their everyday lives. Steve Ballmer MP said ‘if the world could run on the concept of Sewa, what a better world it would be’. The awards are not only about giving praise, as this doesn’t sit well with the concept of Sewa, but it is about recognising where Sewa is happening, encouraging people to take part in activities and understanding that Sewa isn’t just for a day.
The next steps for Sewa Day is to now encourage those engaged with Sewa to do more regular Sewa. To inspire such a transition, the Sewa Day team are publishing a book with 365 inspiring stories of Sewa, reinforcing the thought that Sewa should be something we integrate into our lives.
Huge congratulations to all the nominees and winners and especially to the team that has made it all happen. Sewa Day really is an excellent initative and many people are benefiting from the work being undertaken. It is truly inspiring.
As Sadiq Khan MP said, ‘I challenge all of you not to be inspired by the Sewa volunteers.’