Seva Mandir:Looking back on 50 years of achievements and challenges;Shaping the next 50

Seva Mandir is about to turn 50. This is an appropriate time to consider the changes brought about by the NGO’sprogrammes. It is also a good time to look ahead to the challenges of the next half-century.

Seva Mandir was founded bythe eminent educationist and social worker, the late Dr Mohan

Singh Mehta.Dr Mehta was impressed with the ideas of the leaders of the Indian Independence movement, especially those of Mahatma Gandhi, Madan Mohan Malviya and Hridaynath Kunjru.

In an effort to overcome the ignorance and darkness of poverty in the nearby villages of Udaipur district, Dr Mehta founded Vidhya Bhawan and Seva Mandir. He always emphasized the importance of citizens playing an active role in rural development.

SevaMandir’s original adult education programme, which began in a few villages, gradually expanded to encompass 650 villages and a wide range of programmes, including primary education, natural resource development, health, the development of village institutions, and women and child development. During its 50 yearjourney, Seva Mandir has received a great deal of support, cooperation and affection from all sections of society – rural communities, government, donor organizations and individual donors.

Natural resource development

The organization has developed around 4,000 hectares of community grassland and forestland in 300 villages and managed to make it safe and fertile. About 150 small and big ponds have been constructed and 12,000 farmers have benefitted as a result of our agriculture programme.

Education

A total of 6,700 children are being given quality education every year at primary level through 170 educational centres run by SevaMandir.

Health

Every year, 5,600 women are receiving village-based help from 300 SevaMandir-trained traditional birth attendants, helping them give birth safely in hospital or at home.

Pregnant women and children are vaccinated against life-threatening diseases. 100 BalSakhis, community-based women trained by SevaMandir, are giving mothers advice on child developmentand care, and so helping to improve the health and nutrition of 3,700 children.

Local democracy with the help of the Seva Mandir, 723 village committees have been formed. Between them, these villages have accumulated more than 6Crores of funds to be used for their villages development.

Women and child development 665 self-help groups are active, with deposits totaling over 7crores, which can be made available in the form of loans to women in need. 12 women’s resource centres offer effective counseling and practical help to women suffering violence and harassment. Women trained by SevaMandir run 218 full-day Balwadis, offering safe places for young children to stay while their mothers work and their older siblings go to school, and preparing these little ones to go to school themselves.

SevaMandir’s relationship with the rural communities in the past 50 years, a depth of mutual trust and faith has been built up between the organization and its partner communities in the villages. Together, Seva Mandir and the village institutions it has helped establish have faced many internal and external challenges, but they continue on their journey together.

In the villages associated with Seva Mandir, social and environmental changes are clearly visible. Positive changes and value-added development are visible in the form of equality and coordination across all the democratic categories and in respect of gender equality.

The challenges ahead despite much hard-work won success, there remain considerable challenges in education, health, the environment, gender equality and other areas in our villages.There is much more work to be done.

Climate change is a fact: productivity is decreasing in the agricultural and agricultural sectors as a result ofrisingtemperatures and falling groundwater levels. In areas as far as Kotra 47% of children are still out.

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