Indian American volunteers from a group of 25 Indian Associations, Hindu Temples, and Indian Associations from Greater Philadelphia area, have been doing yeoman’s selfless service for FEMA in a massive vaccination campaign in Philadelphia city, ‘SEWA with FEMA’, coordinated by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) & Sewa International. This campaign has been going on from March 22 to April 18, 2021 and close to 175,000 people are receiving vaccination in this drive.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) and Sewa International (Sewa USA) had been working with FEMA since Hurricane Harvey. They received a call for help in the first week of March 2021, for FEMA’s vaccination drive in many US cities. Responding to this call for help, HSS & Sewa USA’s East coast regional leaders met FEMA Region III team and quickly prepared plan of daily volunteer support in 2 shifts, for the roles like Registration, Screening, Wheel chairing seniors with disabilities, Post-vaccination Observation etc. The campaign was dubbed ‘SEWA with FEMA’. The unique feature of this campaign is that this is a purely selfless, voluntary service offered to FEMA. HSS later invited G25, a group of 25 Indian Associations, Hindu Temples, and Indian Associations from Greater Philadelphia area, to participate in this campaign named as SEWA with FEMA.
SEWA with FEMA volunteers at Philadelphia’s PA Convention Center, are working very closely with Team Rubicon, another veteran run volunteer partner organisations of FEMA. Starting from March 22, on an average 10-12 volunteers have been serving in this effort. Many are taking days off from work to serve there.
HSS on-site coordinator, Sachin Dabade says, “Sewa is a Sanskrit word involves serving selflessly and helping others in a variety of ways, without any reward or personal gain, based on our Hindu ethos which says, ‘This whole world is one family”.
Bhupesh Shah, the president of Gujarati Samaj of Delaware Valley (GSDV) said, “Special thanks to HSS & Sewa and FEMA for offering us an opportunity to serve as volunteers. This was a very rewarding and enriching experience”. Mrs. Akanksha Kalra, a lawyer, volunteer and member of Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (APA) said “I am grateful for an opportunity to serve with and learn from others”.
Raju Kunaparaju, PA-DE chapter coordinator for Sewa International said, “FEMA team members’ friendly nature motivated our volunteers to work on multiple slots”.
G25 Indian organizations are working closely with HSS and have been serving the humanity (regardless of race/ethnicity/religion) during the current COVID19 crisis.
They raised $50,000 to actively support local healthcare & EMS workers, donated groceries to food pantries during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. In March 2021, the group supported Temple University Community Health Workers network, and provided funds to purchase new winter jackets, sweaters, undergarments, shoes, and groceries for the patients at Temple University’s Community Health Network. Additionally, G-25 group members collected donations of clothing, shoes and food items at different locations across Pennsylvania by working with their respective community members.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh is a Hindu faith-based organization of 4500+ active volunteers, meet every week at 250+ chapters scattered in 36 states of the USA.
Sewa International is also a national organization with mission to offer family support, welfare and disaster response and rehabilitation work. Their volunteers are trained to respond to various humanitarian causes with a short notice and the organizations has 200+ partner Indian Organizations working with it closely in many cities.
The G25 organizations supporting SEWA with FEMA are: Bharatiya Temple & Cultural Center Chalfont, Hindu Temple Society Allentown, AIM For Seva, Chinmaya Mission, Shreenath Ji Haveli, Philadelphia Marathi Mandal, Telugu Association of GDV, Navodaya Kannada Koota, Sewa International (PA-DE chapter), Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Hindu American Foundation, Punjabi Chamber of Commerce, SEWAA, Indo American Club, Gujarati Samaj of DV, Indian American Association Of Lehigh Valley, VHPA Lehigh Valley, North South Foundation, Philadelphia Ganesh Festival, Pragati Bengali Association, Hari Om Temple, Sewa Bucks, Indo American Senior Association, UP Association Of Greater Philadelphia, Phila Rajasthani Mandal.