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12 Feb 2020

Umed Mal Lodha Memorial Trust Awards

On the 12th of February, 2020, Seva Mandir celebrated the annual Umed Mal Lodha (UML) Memorial Trust Awards.

The awards are dedicated in the name of the late Umed Mal Lodha, who worked at Seva Mandir, strengthening the organisations ability and skill in natural resource development and the protection of the environment through common land regeneration.

The UML Memorial Trust was registered in 2005 to recognise the achievements of rural and tribal communities and individuals towards the conservation of village's common resources.

Lakhsman Singh, Secretary of GVNML (an NGO focusing on natural resource development in Rajasthan) and the reason for the inspirational transformation of his home village, Laporia, was a guest during the ceremony. He highlighted the importance of working with nature and how it should be in tandem with human development.


Village Forest Protection and Management Committee - Bhei village

In 2004, men and women in Bhei village, located in a remote, mainly tribal area, came together to begin the process of regenerating their common land. At the time, 60 hectares of it was being illegally encroached by other individuals, meaning the community could not rejuvenate the land or take advantage of its produce.

The community members managed to peacefully negotiate to remove the encroachers and return the common land to the community.

In 2016, they formalised the group into the Village Forest Protection and Management Committee so that they could formally organise to regenerate the common land. They selected 100 hectares of land and, with the help of Seva Mandir, planted approximately 200,000 indigenous trees. The village and nearby communities now have a protected source for forest produce to consume and sell.

Community Institution - Hamerpal

As with most of the villages that Seva Mandir works with, the local community rely on common land to support themselves. However, around 50 hectares of common land illegally encroached. Together, the Community Institution obtained the authority to remove the encroachers and regenerate the land, and 3,200 trees were planted in 2016. Now, the village earns about INR 100,000 from the sale of produce collected from the common land, helping them in taking the next step to move out of poverty.


Bhurki Bai 

Bhurki had little opportunity to study when she was a child in the 70's and 80's. This changed when she was an adult, and she enrolled in Seva Mandir's Adult Education Centres (which have now ceased operation). She learnt how to read and write and other important skills such as mathematics. With her new knowledge, she joined her local Seva Mandir facilitated Self-Help Group, helping other women take advantage of government schemes, linking them with low-interest credit and savings, and inspiring them to take a more active role in their communities.

Recently, her community wanted to build a structure to harvest and store water so that the community could have more to use for farming and drinking throughout the year. Bhurki put all of her efforts in to persuade the local government authorities to allow the construction. Eventually, her hard work paid off and, with the help of Seva Mandir, the water structure was built.

Devi Lal 

In 1982, Devi Lal joined one of Seva Mandir's Adult Education Centres to learn basic literacy and mathematics. Through the centre, he connected with Seva Mandir and began working on a number of different programmes. Through his hard work and commitment to the development of his community, he was elected the president of his Community Institution four times, in which he led the regeneration of 16 hectares of common land.

Devi also had a central role in the organisation of a Satyagarah (peaceful protest) in his village to campaign to let the local authorities to allow the felling of more than 16,000 bamboo trees. In 2018, the community was allowed to cut the trees and more than INR 270,000 was earnt, greatly benefitting the community.


Dheera Ram Kapaya 

Dheera grew up in extreme poverty, When he was a child, he often went without more than one meal a day and he would help his family support themselves anyway they could. As he grew older, he became interested in performing and his natural talent as an actor became apparent. He began to perform street plays with Seva Mandir workers, raising awareness on education, health and protecting the environment.

In 2017, he was chosen to be the president of a newly formed group, the Forest Regeneration Society. Through this, he has made more than 100 Forest Security Committees who are trained and have the resources to protect their respective community's common land.


Virendra Singh Chauhan 

Virendra has been working for the last 20 years for the preservation of forests, wild species of flora and fauna, and water conservation. He has worked extensively with Seva Mandir facilitated Community Institutions to raise awareness on environmental issues and how to protect common land and forests.

Seva Mandir thanks wholeheartedly these fantastic individuals and communities for the incredible work they have done for their communities and for the environment.

Alfa Kumari Meena   

Alfa is just 20 years old, and yet has already accomplished so much. She comes from a remote village in Udaipur district were opportunities to go to school are poor, and, even when available, the quality of education is often low. Even with this situation, Alfa put all of her efforts into her learning and passed each year with flying colours. Now, she is studying for her Bachelor's degree at a university in Udaipur. Her dream is to become a teacher so that she can too inspire children and young men and women from her community.

Alfa received a scholarship for her university education in the name of Umed Mal Lodha's wife, the late Sayar Kunwar Lodha.


Seva Mandir thanks wholeheartedly these fantastic individuals and communities for the incredible work they have done for the environment.

To find out more about Umed Mal Lodha and the UML Memorial Trust, visit their new website.

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