The SevaHundiconcept was introduced in 2012 to exhort as many people as possible, to donate very little amounts locally, with the intention of pooling them annually and making a sizeable contribution to worthy causes such as the education of orphans and nutrition for malnourished Chenchutribals
Among the many lasting messages left behind by Father Vicente Ferrer is that “Good action for the poor and needy will always yield good results.” Taking cue from his philosophy, and seeking to raise local support for RDT’s programmes, the SevaHundi programme started in 2012.
The idea behind the SevaHundi was simple, yet traditional. All over India, it is a custom for people, no matter what their economic background to deposit small amounts on a regular basis to a “HUNDI” or a collection box, usually as an offering to a favoured God. RDT took this concept to pool together savings, however meagre, into a significant, if not large, amount. Most of the poor villagers RDT encounters were willing to help those needier than themselves.
Using the simple slogan of “SpandinchuSayamAndinchu” (Let your heart respond and hands help), the initiativebegan in a few project villages. Even the poorest of the rural poor, inspired by the idea, started putting together whatever they could. It was decided that annually, on April 9 – Father Ferrer’s birthday – all the SevaHundis would be opened and the amounts deposited in a specially designated account, and a fresh SevaHundi would be started the following day.
So significant was the amount collected that RDT asked the donors what it should do with the funds gathered. It was unanimously agreed upon that the amount be spent on educating orphaned children.
Children born into poor, homes already have a tough life ahead of them, but without anyone to look out for them, orphaned children are the most vulnerable members of an already impoverished community. Parentless village children live with their grandparents or relatives, and all resources being tight, these children receive less care than most and educating them is not a priority for their strained caretakers.
Thus, RDT began the task of admitting selected orphan children to schools, colleges, and even professional degree courses, providing them with their tuition(via direct disbursements to the institutes), books and supplies and some pocket money. The selection of children is a concerted effort by grassroots RDT workers across various sectors that bring attention to the various cases in their areas of orphaned children losing out on their education owing to difficult circumstances. They refer the cases to the area’s CDC – who verify and certify the case further. Then after the approval from the programme director the child’s name is included into the SevaHundi/ ‘India for India’ recipient list.
Once enrolled, a child’s progress is tracked through monthly audits by the Area Team L+eader and even the child’s health is kept tabs on through periodic visits to the Health Officer.About 478 children, both boys and girls are studying at schools/colleges from class one to graduation. The help of small donations from ordinary people have paved the way for these children to a bright future. Now it has become a popular ritual in Ananthapuram to maintain a Hundi.
Through his initiative, many children have completed their education and are successful in their career as engineers, teachers, doctors, nurse and other professionals. Today, owing to mentions in dailies and in other media, and the efforts of RDT’s other outreach staff in Hyderabad and Mumbai, the Seva Hindi programme has ranged well beyond Ananthapuram and attracts contributions from other parts of the state and country also.
In 2015-16, donations totalled 4.03crores with 1,17,566SevaHundisin operation
583 orphaned children are currently benefiting from the scheme.
The Smt. Sita Devi Foundation, Vijayawada, awarded RDT the Rural Development Prize for the programme
The programme is now the core for the India for India initiative.
“It is the compassion and courage of the people who are contributing to Seva Hundi, which gives me immense hope for the children whose lives are incomplete without their parents, yet they are receiving love and care from the society through their financial contributions. As this special program of supporting orphan children is running in the third year, we look forward with surging hope that many more children can pursue their dreams. With this initiative, RDT hopes to give the country progressive leaders for tomorrow.”
Govindappa, Area Team Leader, Uravakonda
Vijay hails from Adiganipalli of Kanekal Mandal studying at class 7 in Sri Vidyanikethan. He lost his father as a young boy. During that time, his mother was expecting his sister. Unfortunately, he lost his mother soon after his sister’s birth. Thereafter, his grandmother took them into her care, despite of her old age and frail health. They didn’t have any property of their own and had to stay at other people’s mercy. Soon the situation worsened as his grandmother was finding it difficult to feed both of them.
On recognizing the dire situation, RDT took the children under its shelter and explained to them the importance of education as well as RDT’s goals and purpose to support them. The organization soon got Vijay admitted to a good school and also promised to sponsor his sister’s education.
Giving hope to many young children who have lost their families under various misfortunate circumstances, RDT helps them live their life with dignity and pride. Instilling in them the confidence that they can stand up for themselves, and transform their life with education. Through the success of its Seva Hundi initiative, RDT has introduced various other education programmes for orphan children and expanded its reach to as many children as possible, while also addressing all education-related issues in their upbringing.
Adiganipalli village, Kanekal Mandal
In already impoverished communities, the plight of orphan children used to be particularly dire. They would grow without an education or positive influencers, most turned to petty crime and drugs. The India for India programme’s popularity and success stories mean that their caretakers now know where to turn for support in raising these children.