NHSF (UK) Does SEWA Day
4th of October 2015 marked the day when thousands of good-hearted volunteers gathered around the country to make a difference. Approximately 850 of those volunteers were members of National Hindu Student’s Forum (UK) volunteering on behalf of university chapters across the length and breadth of the country. With 37 chapters taking part and 2550 Sewa hours recorded, it was truly a record-breaking day.
The following is a summary of the Sewa activities that chapters undertook on Sewa Day. Upon reading this, we hope to become even more inspired and really be the change that we wish to see in the world.
University of Nottingham
University of Nottingham started the day with a card making and friendship band making session. This was followed by a visit to a nearby Nursing Home, which touched the residents, staff and volunteers, who all requested further trips and interaction. The day ended with some team building games to allow the chapter to further bond. Nottingham aim to organise more Sewa orientated events in the upcoming year such as soup runs, yoga sessions and visiting wards in a nearby hospital.
Keele Hindu Society
Keele Hindu Society took part in Sewa Day by distributing food and drink around their local town centre to rough sleepers. This consisted of homemade vegetarian sandwiches, crisps, juice and water and proved an emotional, eye-opening experience.
Members of Warwick University went to Sebright house in Leamington spa (a nursing home specialising with people with dementia) and did several tasks which relieved pressure on the nursing home. While half of the volunteers painted the beach house and did several gardening activities, the other half decorated two hallways to make them look bright and colourful. The decorations were personalised by using pictures of the elderly to make the corridors feel more homely, as well as decorating them according to specific themes. The gesture was really appreciated by staff and residents alike.
Universty of Leicester
In Leicester, a food collection was organised at the Halls of Residence in Oadby. Members knocked on people’s doors and with the generosity of the students collected more food than they were able to carry within a few hours! Members aimed to collect foods which had a long shelf-life such as tinned fruit and vegetables, pasta, rice, soups and breakfast cereals; as these would all make more ideal donations. The donated food was given to an organisation called charity-link, who run a food bank based in Leicester City Centre.
“The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.” DMU Hindu Society went to Asra Residential Care Home on Sewa Day to spend time with the elderly. They viewed the elderly as a key reason of our comfort today, and were amazed how they had struggled to create the foundation for future generations that we now enjoy. There were about 15 students, committee members and even members that spent time with the elderly. Spending time with the elderly allowed students to understand the hardship that the residents had been through, and their hopes and dreams for the future. DMU also helped in making Diwali cards and decorating the care home.
University of Birmingham
For Sewa Day this year, the Hindu Society from the University of Birmingham did a ‘temple run’. The participants managed to cover two Mandirs spending 2 hours at each one.
Members spent the morning in Sree Venkateswara Balaji temple by helping them wash kitchen trays that were used to make Prasad. A tour around the temple was given where participants learned about the activities organised by the temple as well as upcoming projects such as the Gandhi room where people can do meditation.
After lunch, NHSF Birmingham visited Shree Geeta Bhavan temple where they helped by polishing tiles, cleaning the ceiling as well as vacuuming the carpets. The day proved to be informative and rewarding.
On Sewa Day, NHSF Aston took 12 members to Shree Ram Mandir where they had the opportunity to take part in puja and help out around the Mandir. Participants did some cleaning to ready it for their event the following day. They later went to feed the homeless with the Gurudwara and even though the service could only serve five people, it proved to be a fantastic experience.
In Liverpool, the Sewa co-ordinators conducted a morning session on the importance of Sewa Bhav and Sewa. The attendees then split into two groups. The first group went to do Sewa at a Mandir in Kirby and the second group went to the SU to do some gardening work. At around 3pm both groups came back to the same place and collected small gifts and goodies for a shoe box appeal. People collected various items for children and they were given shoe boxes to fill with these items for children less fortunate. Liverpool looks forward to doing even more next year!
Bradford conducted Sewa at their local Mandir, by cleaning various parts of it, whilst also decorating allotments for the homeless and refugees.
The Manchester Sewa team organised for a guest speaker to do a talk on homelessness. The speaker made attendees aware of the numbers of people in the UK living rough and the reasons why these people are in such desperate situations that they have no choice but to live rough.
In Sheffield, members spent Sewa day at a homeless project in a local Church. The session is held weekly at the Church and invites people of all backgrounds to come and socialise as well as enjoy some hot food and drinks. NHSF Sheffield got involved by setting up the stall, preparing food and serving the guests. It proved to be an eye opening experience speaking to the guests and NHSF Sheffield hopes to undertake this as a regular Sewa activity!
The Huddersfield Sewa team organised a day of helping out at their local Sita Ram Mandir.
The Sewa team at Hull organised a day of helping out at their local Mandir whilst also setting up a food and mehndi stall in their SU, raising money for their local Mandir.
The Sewa team at Leeds organised a day of helping out at a local Mandir.
Reading undertook a sponsored walk which was enjoyed by those who could attend.
Approximately 30 members gathered to make sandwiches for the homeless with donated ingredients. As well as donating to the homeless shelter, members took to the street to donate snacks, drinks and crisps, engaging with some of the most marginalised in society.
This year, Southampton decided to hold a fundraising event in the style of a bake-off. They were able to raise £304.10 for the charity of their choice.
Members of NHSF UWE visited the local Mandir in Bristol, where they had the opportunity to attend a Havan and serve food as Prasad to those that attended, engaging with the local community and really creating a ‘home away from home’
A beach clean-up was organised in which members did litter picking up at Swansea bay beach.
UEA members held an event to raise awareness about Hinduism by holding a question and answer session with multi faith groups attending.
In London, 9 chapters came together for their Sewa Day project as a Zonal Sewa Day on the 18th of October. The event was held at the Hare Krishna temple in Watford, with the event being hosted by NHSF Hertfordshire.
Approximately 90 students attended on the day, taking part in a various activities to help the Manor. The day started with a guest speaker, Bhavik Patel who spoke about selfless service; what it means and how we can try to achieve it. After the inspirational talk, the teams got to work!
There were four activities, the first one which was cleaning the Gowshalla. This included sweeping the surrounding area, grinding up corn to feed the cows and general maintenance of the area.
The second activity was gardening; the manor hosts a large range of beautiful flowers and plants. This group helped the team to plant many types of new flowers.
Another team undertook the task of cleaning the temple, working directly in and around the temple, cleaning windows and making sure the premises was clear of all litter and fallen leaves.
Finally the farming team sweated and laboured to uproot and separate all potatoes that were ready for harvest; with a significant proportion of the 7 acres of land at the Manor used for cultivations this proved to be no easy task!
The day finished with mantra meditation. This activity was new to many of the members due to its unique nature. But the facilitator, Ravi Pattni, did extremely well to help everyone focus; create a calm environment and beautiful chant the Hare Krishna Mantra.
London Zone as a whole wants to thank all nine universities that attended and made a huge impact at the Mandir and also to the Hertfordshire committee who put on this fantastic event for London zone to get involved in.
In additional to the zonal Sewa event, chapters also embarked on local projects. Examples include Kingston, who set up something very different in collaborating on a mental health awareness event with other societies in their university, aiming to share some essential and powerful information about mental health and our human response. Another is St George’s, who did a day at the hospice on site to help serve the families of those who are in hospital.
From NHSF (UK)’s perspective, this has perhaps been the most successful Sewa Day. With more members taking part in Sewa initiatives than last year, it’s a clear sign that they are getting more involved in the community. NHSF (UK) would not have been able to grow as much as it has in recent years, if not for the support of the society in which they function. With this in mind, it becomes ever more important that NHSF (UK) continues to give back and make a positive impact.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi.
NHSF (UK) Sewa team