A Conversation with Fareed Zakaria 
to Benefit Seva Mandir


Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, our event scheduled for November 14th with Dr. Fareed Zakaria as keynote speaker has been postponed. We plan to reschedule the event for early Spring. Look for further details to arrive in your inbox soon and please accept our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this change may cause.

      Other News

1st Annual Round Robin Tennis Tournament
for Friends of Seva Mandir 
       On September 12th, 16 players came out for an evening of lively tennis, refreshments and a presentation of our “Field Notes From Rajasthan” about the work of Seva Mandir. Special thanks to Gaurav Misra of the Dick Savitt Tennis Center (Columbia University) for the generous in-kind contribution of court time and to the coaching staff for their donation of athletic apparel for all the fabulous prizes.

       By the end of the night, we had raised over $3,500 along with great enthusiasm for participation in the Friends of Seva Mandir community. Next year we plan to expand the event to include an instructional element and hope that more of you will join in the fun. Giant thanks to everyone who came out and gave their support.
    Field Notes From Rajasthan
       We arrived at a simple roadside structure in the late afternoon at the end of a long day of site visits and entered to find a room filled with 30 or so women seated on the floor, some with babies in their laps, all radiant in the colorful, traditional clothes of Rajasthan. Sitting at the front of the room with our interpreter, we learned that these were the Balsakhis, community health workers trained by Seva Mandir to deliver reproductive and maternity care to village women, as well as to monitor the development of children from birth to age five, guarding against childhood disease, malnutrition and other insufficiencies.

      They described a typical work day consisting of lengthy treks on foot to clients’ homes where young mothers waited with questions, often worries—about breastfeeding, birth control, childrearing practices, navigating changed family dynamics—and we recognized our own experiences as newly-minted parents, trying in an atmosphere of sleep deprivation and constant demand to negotiate a path forward that would serve the health and wellbeing of our children. We ourselves could feel the powerful presence of these Balsakhi women and sensed the immense value of their contribution to young mothers in providing a safe ear for venting concerns and a wellspring of advice to help meet the challenges life might bring. For village children, the Balsakhis serve as a vital pair of watchful eyes to ensure that basic needs and developmental milestones are met appropriately. Seva Mandir provides the Balsakhis with continued support by facilitating weekly meetings to discuss cases together and making referrals when necessary to affiliated health professionals.

       Glancing around the room, we saw what empowerment really looks like—these were women with gainful employment that enhanced the quality of their own families' daily lives and also raised their stature within the community, but, perhaps most importantly, they enjoyed the respect of and camaraderie with their peers in the work—we were fortunate witnesses to their hard-won accomplishments. Inspired, one of our group asked through the interpreter, what, if they could name anything at all, would they want us to try to provide to best serve the program. The candid answer came from one who jostled a toddler on her knee—“Our children need food,” she said and we realized that as much as our common humanity had been conveyed in that room, we also could not ignore the backdrop of severe hardship that pervades the communities served by Seva Mandir.

      It was yet another moment that affirmed our commitment to return home and raise funds—in this case, to ease the passage of these brave women on their way each day to do life-saving work along the dusty roads of Rajasthan. 
For a glimpse into the life of Balsakhi women 
click to watch this 3 minute video

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