Seva Mandir 1968-2018: Celebrating our past, inspiring our future

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Dr Mohan Sinha Mehta, founder of Seva Mandir

 

Seva Mandir is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary.  Founded in April 1968 by Dr Mohan Sinha Mehta, it initially focused mainly on adult literacy, with very limited resources but with selfless dedication and a desire to work for the most deprived sections of society. The result of this selfless dedication is an organization which today touches the lives of 400,000 people in more than 650 villages in Udaipur and Rajsamand districts of Rajasthan. Seva Mandir’s aim is to build a new social order through service, dedication and non-violent change.

 

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A women’s day celebration in one of the villages we work with

 

As it approaches its half-century, Seva Mandir is ready to face the new challenges of this fast-changing environment while building on the work it has done with communities for the last five decades. The celebrations will mark the achievements of the past 50 years and create opportunities to plan for the future.

 

We plan to begin our golden jubilee celebrations in September 2017 and continue until the actual anniversary in April 2018. Planning began some time ago with consolidation of ideas and internal discussions held with Seva Mandir staff, para-workers and other stakeholders in the field. The main themes for the celebration will involve:

- Reflecting on the past 50 years
- Shaping the next 50 years
- Discourse building on Seva Mandir’s approach and values
- Strengthening existing partnerships and building new ones (academia, donors, NGOs, media, youth, communities)
- Improving brand recall value

 

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Seva Mandir in April 1985

 

An eight-month-long campaign has been outlined with celebrations at community and organization level. The core of these celebrations will revolve around our journey, with an emphasis on our efforts, struggles, challenges, achievements, success stories, and the future of the organization. The events and activities planned include:

- A print and/or videographic documentation of Seva Mandir’s evolution from its inception to the present, covering approach, key founding members and workers and voices from the field.
- An attractive cultural fair in the communities, showcasing Seva Mandir’s work, bringing together beneficiaries, field workers, staff and the general public. Apart from cultural events, photographic exhibitions and documentary screenings will also be organized at the fair.
- Short retreats (3-7 days) for professionals from other sectors such as corporate, media institutions etc to acquaint them with Seva Mandir’s field-level interventions.
- Cultural and historical tourism around Udaipur; tourism in areas of Seva Mandir’s work such as the heritage walk in Delwara; the opportunity to engage with an activity in SM’s field of work such as toilet construction, or cleaning up the streets of a village/peri-urban settlement etc.
- State and district level consultations especially focusing on topics like Approaches to Community Organization and Development Practice.
- Revamping Seva Mandir’s communication material and platform.
- A social retreat for national and international donors.

 

These are just a few of the activities planned. This celebration is designed to encourage participation from all quarters, from staff members to stakeholders, from volunteers to donors. Some activities will be based in the community and involve the community’s active participation. All age groups will be encouraged to take part.

 

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School children attending a photographic exhibition held earlier in the year

 

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One of Seva Mandir’s beneficiaries

 

From the earliest days in 1968, the efforts and dedication of a few individuals have led to a sea change in the lives of millions of people in one of the country’s most backward regions who have to contend with some of its most difficult terrain. The vision and mission of our founding members has guided Seva Mandir for the last five decades.  Today, more than 1,000 people strive every day at different levels to ensure that the organization fulfils its dream. Seva Mandir means ‘temple of service’ and for the last half-century this organization has earned its name by touching millions of lives.

 

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Seva Mandir’s natural resource development team

 

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Mothers and babies at an immunization camp

 

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