Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar meets Katrina victims




September 29, 2005



Spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar visited Hurricane Katrina survivors, volunteers and public officials carrying out relief operation in Texas on September 27.

Sri Sri was invited by Austin Mayor Will Wynn to meet with survivors of Hurricane Katrina, where the Art of Living and its sister organisation International Association of Human Values are conducting trauma relief workshops.

"It is truly an honour for our community to host a greatly respected world leader such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar," said Austin City Council Member Raul Alvarez.

"I always feel the world is a global family and during such disasters, we can learn from one another," Sri Sri said.

IAHV is organising a series of concerts in the US with Pandit Jasraj to support its trauma relief and rehabilitation initiatives. The concerts will be held between 1st and 23rd October in New Jersey, Houston, Atlanta and Bay Area.

In photo: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar speaks to victims of Hurricane Katrina at a temporary housing complex in Austin, Texas. (inset) Austin Mayor Will Wynn (left) and Austin City Council member Raul Alvarez with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hindu organisations help Katrina survivors

Likn

The age-old Hindu tradition of service was very much evident in Houston when hundreds of volunteers from Hindu organizations took up the task of feeding Hurricane Katrina survivors in relief centres all over the country.

The relief operation gave a new purpose to the organizations which had so far been organizing only Hindu festivals and several volunteers said what they were doing would change their entire outlook.



Hundreds of volunteers from Hindu organizations donned yellow t-shirts identifying them as volunteers and worked three shifts during the weekened.

They included volunteers from the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) whose volunteers took care of the early morning shift and Sewa International which coordinated the volunteers for all three shifts.

Hasu D Patel and his fellow volunteers from Leva Patidar Samaj and Asian American Hotel Association too helped in relief efforts.



Well-known yoga instructor/practitioner Mallikarjun Shintri, 70, recalled volunteering years ago when Hurricane Camille
hit Mississippi in 1969.

"Whomever I met, these evacuees are very positive and never lost their hopes," commented Kirti Jain, who was volunteering alongside local people for the first time.



The programme, initiated by Houston city and Harris country, mobilizes local volunteers to provide personal touch of Houston hospitality to new neighbours, who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Hindu Temple offers Temple premises for Hurricane Rita Evacuees

DFW HINDU TEMPLE SOCIETY
EKTA MANDIR
1605 N. Britan Rd., Irving, TX 75061
www.dfwhindutemple.org 972-445-3111

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact: Sashi Kejriwal

972-333-5705





Irving, Texas September 24, 2005 - The Hindu Temple in Irving Texas,
opened its doors for Hurricane Rita evacuees Thursday night. Many agencies
like Red Cross, Texas 211, Texas Department of Public Safety were informed
about availability of its premises for use as shelter.

When emails went out to Temple devotees, offers of supplies and help
poured in, clogging the phone lines. Volunteers were busy redirecting calls
about offers of help to their personal cell phones, so that the main lines
could be left open for calls from evacuees and agencies calling to get latest
capacity information.

"It was heartwarming to see two kids jumping up and down in joy, just
because they could have a warm shower after being cramped in an ac-less
pickup for 24 hours", said one of the volunteers.

Doctors from the Hindu community were on call, and provided valuable
assistance to evacuees who were pregnant, had stomach aches, flu-like
symptoms, etc.

Calls poured in from agencies as far out as California, trying to
locate shelter for evacuees still on the road. Calls from Security company
employees, Corporations, Government agencies, other charities trying to
place evacuees was indicative of the enormous effort by the whole
community. Updated lists of shelters with available space were all over the
internet, and thanks to agencies maintaining those lists, it was
rather smooth to
find shelters for evacuees that reached a full shelter.

In all, about 200 people found shelter at the Hindu Temple. When asked
regarding his views about helping those in need, R.K.Panditi, a
volunteer, said "The Gita has said that this kind of charity, with no
expectation
in return, is the best kind". Gita is one of the main holy books of
Hinduism.

Dr. Jagannath Rao of the Hindu temple said "It was very encouraging to
see so many devotees that showed up to help. Some volunteers had to be
turned away." Manoj Parikh, President of the Temple said "Hindu temple is
open for shelter to all Americans, and we are happy to see evacuees from all
walks of life being served". For further information contact: Sashi Kejriwal
972-333-5705.

SEWA International lives up to its name

HindustanTimes

As people and organisations come forward to contribute heartily to the rescue and rehabilitation efforts in Louisiana, Sewa International, a global Indian volunteer organisation is amongst the first to spearhead the Indian endeavour in the US in this regard.

Along with Hindus of Greater Houston, an umbrella organisation of Hindu temples and other tertiary organisations from Texas, Sewa USA is actively inspiring by action, efforts towards helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The organisation has already raised over $100,000 for Katrina relief. Already, scores of Sewa volunteers, many of whom are second generation Indians and their non-Indian friends and colleagues, have aligned themselves with the relief operations in any capacity that has been offered to them.

Sewa volunteers from across the nation tirelessly put together nearly 1000 hygiene packs comprising soaps, shampoos, among other things and delivered them to the Astrodome in Houston this Sunday.

Huge cartons filled with other necessities and amenities including personal care items are consistently being sent to the nucleus of this mission, Houston, Texas. Volunteers from the community are also doing their bit in providing all forms of assistance to students and others of Indian origin displaced by Katrina.

More importantly, as efforts began to materialize for the mammoth task of assisting those worst affected by the hurricane, many Indian Americans took it upon themselves to prepare and serve food to the hundreds displaced from New Orleans and other places and currently residing in neighbouring states of Texas and Georgia.

Others have spread the word by mobilising the community through awareness programs in temples and other leading Indian organisations across the US. Of the displaced evacuees, numbering nearly 150,000 in Houston alone, the Hindu community has taken upon itself to assist in providing food to the shelters for one day. 240 volunteers have been identified for this purpose.

As is the wont of our faith as a people in compassion and the equality of man, the community has risen to the credo of 'serve humanity, serve God' by being effectively involved in the local volunteer machinery everywhere, including Atlanta.

Indians have in fact, volunteered to go beyond immediate relief by identifying and implementing long term strategic needs in concord with the government and local administrative bodies.

In order to maximise the aid efforts Sewa has aligned itself with the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), another reputed volunteer organisation with 90 branches spread all over the country. Together, they are striving to find, assess and assist with alternative accommodation, families that have been staying in motels so far.

A worthy parallel to this aid work is the fact that many Indians from Atlanta and Texas have registered as volunteers with the American Red Cross. At the behest of the ARC, Sewa members put together and delivered several supplies including more than 700 sandwiches within three hours to the organisation for immediate distribution among people waiting in lines.

By mobilising the community and ensuring speedy service to the evacuees in need, Sewa has lived upto its motto- Vasudhaika Kutumbakam that translates to 'the whole world is one family'. More than that, Indian Americans have rendered themselves invaluable to the scores they have helped by way of much needed supplies and service.

It is the community, the people who have made the difference in adhering to time-tested and revered values of service to humanity without disparity. It may be the least that can be done for those whose lives are saved, but forever impaired. But, it is this zealous service that is the difference between despair and death and evacuation and survival.

As hurricane Katrina smashed to smithereens remnants of a vivid New Orleans civilization over the last couple of days, Atlanta rose in strength to help those affected by this latest manifestation of nature's ire with all it could muster.

The ordeal undergone by countless men, women and children struck by Katrina is even more horrific given the state of mayhem that has clouded hope for those worst affected by the hurricane. The state machinery, despite its zeal has fared poorly in implementing relief and rescue strategy.

Amid offers of support that are pouring in from all over the world, India, who has herself undergone the wrath of Tsunami and the Maharashtra floods more recently, stands tall. Indians in Atlanta too have joined the fraternity in pledging support for the needy.

With Louisiana's prime seat being declared a ghost town of no soul or substance, neighbouring states including Georgia have come forward with whatever they have at their disposal to enable speedy resettlement for evacuees of whom more than 42,000 people left the city. Reportedly, at least 1,000 Katrina evacuees are in Georgia shelters. Officials have taken measures within their jurisdiction by opening up airbases as Cobb County's Dobbins Air Reserve Base near Marietta to them. Temporary food and housing is being made available to those displaced and suffering.

People suffering from growing maladies as dysentery and vomiting in Mississippi have been bused to Georgia. In Georgia's hospitals, such as Atlanta's Grady, emergency medical aid has proven to be effective and timely. Public schools in Atlanta are doing their bit in resettling kids into normalcy or a semblance thereof. Many have waived off mandatory provisos as birth certificates, academic transcripts etc. They are also giving out school packs, books and other stationery to children that have enrolled over the past few days as a result of relocation.

TV channels and leading news agencies are full of stories of people moving out of the disaster struck areas in much hurry. These people, most of who are setting up temporary new homes in the Southeast, are ill prepared for the burden of their days ahead. Most of the families that fled in haste took only that which they could lay their hands on easily -- shoes, clothes, toys for their kids, limited supplies of food and water.

They expect, even now to be 'back home' in a month. That's the least it's going to take for rudimentary revival, they have been told by officials. Given the state of affairs in New Orleans, they may well be chasing an elusive dream. It is to these people that Atlanta's community of Indians, Hispanics, and others have pledged support in the form of therapy, shelter, employment, even baby clothes, cribs and cots.

In the wake of the disastrous conditions prevailing in the rescue shelters as regards basic amenities such as food, water and clothing, Atlanta's citizens have generously opened up their hearts and homes to families displaced by the calamity. Innumerable bulletin boards on the net and calls connecting people through chains of acquaintances have paved the way for what could easily be one of the most effective disaster management and rehabilitation programs.

For evacuees form Louisiana and Mississippi, this is just the beginning of uncertainty and despair. They have no address, no money, no food, and no livelihood. For most of them the number plate on their car is their only proof of identity. For them to be greeted by strangers with as much warmth is therefore, overwhelming.

The effort of the community in Atlanta ought to be lauded for its eager help.

Aso Visit :
www.sewausa.org/

www.sewainternational.com/

Friday, September 23, 2005

Amrita Ashram to provide $1 million for Katrina relief

PTI

September 24, 2005 01:35 IST
Rediff On The Net
http://us.rediff.com/news/2005/
sep/24mata.htm?q=np&file=.htm

Mata Amritanandamayi Centre in America would be donating $1 million
in aid to help victims of Hurricane Katrina that devastated New
Orleans, Louisiana and coastal areas of Mississippi and Albama.

Amritanandamayi told reporters in Kollam, Kerala that the Math had
a number of centres in the United States, including one at
California.

There were also 200 'Satsang Samhitis' throughout the US comprising
supportive devotee volunteers.

Soon after the hurricane struck, Amritanandamayi had sent the head
of the centre in California, Bramhachari Dayamitra Chaitanya, to
the affected areas to assess the best ways for organisation to help
hurricane victims.

The main areas in which the Mata Amritanandamayi Centre there had
extended help were through provision of food, clothing and school
supplies as well as providing emotional support, the Mata said.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

IAHV-AOL work in Austin

I came across this video of the coverage of the great work that IAHV-AOL is doing in Austin for Katrina victims.

---
Fox News coverage of IAHV's work in Austin for young children of the Katrina hurricane victims.
http://www.iahv.org/disaster/
FoxNews2005-small.wmv

Monday, September 19, 2005

HSS and Sewa International relief work covered by media

Source: Indo Link

Sewa Intnl's tie up with IIT alumni !
Source: Hindustan Times


"SEWA (International) lives up to its name "

Source: Inside Bay Area

Fremont resident and volunteer Gaurang Desai said Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and Sewa International, two Hindu organizations, are collecting donations of money, canned foods, cookies and crackers, plus sending volunteers to Houston to serve in local shelters and assist the Red Cross

Source: Rediff

In addition, various other organisations throughout the US have risen to this occasion. Sewa International USA and Hindus of Greater Houston are also coordinating volunteer services with the Hindu temples, and Indian-American organisations.

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has urged all Hindus in America to rise to the occasion and has appealed its hundreds of volunteers in all 90 chapters of HSS to help through collecting donations, canned foods, cookies, crackers, medical supplies and blankets.

India Development & Relief Fund volunteers in Baton Rouge, LA, are working with American Red Cross and local voluntary organisations to assist in relief efforts.


SOURCE: Rediff

Hemendra Pal, a volunteer with Sewa International USA (a service project
of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) spent Labour Day afternoon at the Second Baptist Church in Woodway, Houston, undergoing training lessons to serve food to people displaced by Katrina.

We have requested each Indian organization to take up the type of work they are already doing," Kannappan says, examples being the Indo-American Charity Foundation that is an umbrella body for collecting donations from the desi community, and Sewa International that is doing volunteer coordination

Last week Shah, a financial adviser with investment bankers Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and the secretary of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA (a charitable organisation committed to eradicating illiteracy in India), was among 20 volunteers who spent six hours at the Astrodome sorting used and new clothes to be given to the evacuees.

The next day, the volunteers, most of whom work with Sewa International, handed bottled water to a fresh batch of people arriving from Louisiana at the George Brown Center. They accompanied men and women to restrooms, passed out toothbrushes, and ran errands. Monday evening, they were back at the Astrodome, folding clothes.

The long weekend over, Shah was back at work, but hopes to volunteer on weekdays from 8 pm till midnight. "I happen to be here. I am inspired by the people who are coming from New York and as far as California to serve."

His daughter Sonal Shah, co-founder of Indicorps and India Abroad Person of the Year 2003, was among many pouring in from various parts of the country to help in any way they can; she arrived in Houston from New York Friday night, with two of her friends from Philadelphia.

The scene at the Astrodome, where about 3,000 volunteers were serving last week, was overwhelming. "It is a big stadium with the centre full of cots," Shah senior says.

According to Shah, unlike the reported chaos of the New Orleans Superdome, this one was crowded but clean, and food and water were available in plenty. Things became more orderly when the clothes were laid out on hangers like in big stores. The evacuees could take, without needing to ask, what they needed. There was police presence only at the entrance.

Shah says he found mostly African-American evacuees at both shelters; a few Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese-speaking people were present at the George Brown Center. "We could not find any Indians," he says.

One would expect the evacuees to be angry and excited, but they were instead calm and appreciative, Shah said. Some were still sleeping.

Volunteerism may be a novel experience for first-generation South Asians, but the younger generations in America are clued in to this mindset. Like among those helping the evacuees was Anjali Desai, who has spent the last two years in India volunteering for Indicorps and for the NGO Manav Sadhna, at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Desai, who just returned from India and has some time on her hands, attended the 75-minute training.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

SEVA INTERNATIONAL : HELPING HANDS FOR KATRINA VICTIMS - Atlanta











Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


September 14, 2005

Contact for further information:

Gaurav Verma – 678-462-6203
gaurav_verma22@yahoo.com



HELPING HANDS FOR KATRINA VICTIMS - Atlanta



Atlanta volunteers from Sewa International-USA, an organization mobilizing many community service volunteers, and alumni of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have come together to assist families who have been relocated to Atlanta following :Hurricane Katrina..



Thousands of families who have been evacuated from Louisiana and Mississippi and are currently living in hotels, American Red Cross shelters, or churches or staying with friends and families flocked to the Georgia Convention Center on September 11, 2005. Sewa Atlanta chapter coordinator Gaurav set up an information table with the help of volunteers Suja and Meghna. They and other volunteers talked to more than 60 families and noted down their contact information and their needs such as housing and jobs. It was an enlightening experience for all, meeting the affected individuals face-to-face and hearing details of the difficult circumstances of our fellow citizens.



As a result of their research, volunteers were able to put many of those families in touch with the Dalton Red Cross shelter, which had been underutilized although it offered both housing and job search assistance. Ramji Ramchandran of IIT Alumni coordinated phone calls with Dalton Red Cross and the effected families.



Volunteers also assisted Dan, sales manager of a gaming company in New Orleans, who after being required to evacuate, had an auto accident and needed to complete his trip to Atlanta by Greyhound bus. Dan was extremely appreciative of the volunteers who helped him with meals, local transportation and hotel reservations until he could be picked up two days later by a sister from Tennessee.



Volunteers also pooled their frequent flier miles to provide transportation from Houston for the daughter of a lady whose evacuated daughter they had helped locate.



The key contribution of these volunteers has been in bringing together available resources to the needy in a timely, compassionate way. There are many from Indian community who offered help including Shiv Agrawal, businessman and philanthropist, who has offered three months free accommodation for 25 students. Sewa volunteers were able to send some of the student victims to this housing. Jay Kumar Patel, community leader and a leading hotelier, has offered 20 rooms for families displaced by Katrina, in addition to help in getting jobs in Gainsville, Georgia. Another businessman, Manoj, has offered 10-15 jobs in his restaurants. Shree Shakti Mandir, a Hindu temple in south Atlanta, is providing free hot vegetarian meals during lunch and dinner for any evacuee. Mr. M.A. Patel of the temple said, ‘it is our duty to offer this help to people in need’. All five HSS Balagokulams, in association with Shiv Mandir and ICRC temple, have been collecting food items, baby food, and other articles to distribute in shelters. Satya Sai group of Atlanta, a spiritual group, has prepared 100 packets of personal items and provided 25 blankets. They were distributed by Sewa volunteers. The IIT alumni group has offered tutoring services for the hurricane victims.



There are still thousands of hurricane victims in the Atlanta area needing help. The relief agencies need many more volunteers immediately. If you are interested in volunteering to help the Katrina victims, please contact SEWA coordinator Gaurav Verma at 678-462-6203. For more information, visit: www.sewausa.org

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Indian Americans open wallets, expertise for Katrina victims

http://us.rediff.com/news/2005/
sep/08katrina.htm?q=np&file=.htm

Indian Americans open wallets, expertise for Katrina victims


Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston |
September 08, 2005 22:08 IST



The Indian-American community in Houston and across the United States has not only opened its homes, hearts and wallets, but also expertise for the victims of hurricane Katrina rendered homeless after it inflicted largescale devastation along the Gulf Coast.

About 38 Indo-American associations in Houston are working together through Indo-American Charities Foundation and have decided to raise US$ 1 million for food, volunteers, medical aid, health, shelter, hotel rooms, temporary jobs,medical assistance, computer assistance and hygiene products.

"We have asked everyone to pitch forward generously and chip in to meet the challenge and make a difference. The immediate goal is to raise US$ 150,000 before September 19 and the amount so raised will go towards feeding 25,000 people, three meals for a whole day," IACF president Sheela Rao said.

There has been an outpouring of generosity and concern from the people and "I am sure we will meet this goal," she said.

IACF, whose goal is to help the poor, the homeless, underprivileged, and the needy with monetary, in kind and volunteer contributions through established Houston area charitable organisations, raised and distributed US$ 27,000 to various charities in the US and in India during tsunami relief efforts.

The Asian American Hotel Owners association has donated US$ 100,000 toward the relief efforts through the American Red Cross and other initiatives.

Several Indian doctors have offered their services for this cause through the Indian Doctors Association working with the Harris County Medical Society.

"It's amazing that in times like this all our doctors poured their heart and time out to help our community. Some even canceled their schedules just to help the needy victims," said Dr Rakesh Mangal, president of IDA.

Various computer professionals are assisting to set up Astrodome Community Technology Center, which enables people to register themselves and help find their kin online.

In addition, various other organisations throughout the US have risen to this occasion. Sewa International USA and Hindus of Greater Houston are also coordinating volunteer services with the Hindu temples, and Indian-American organisations.

Besides, BAPS is also distributing emergency supplies of toiletries, medicines, cooking utensils, disposable kitchenware items (plates, knives and spatulas), and over 15 grocery items including milk, biscuits, sugar, salt and cooking oil.

The Federation of Indian Associations, an umbrella body of Indian-American organisations based in the tri-state area, announced the setting up of a special Katrina Fund to help the victims.

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has urged all Hindus in America to rise to the occasion and has appealed its hundreds of volunteers in all 90 chapters of HSS to help through collecting donations, canned foods, cookies, crackers, medical supplies and blankets.

India Development & Relief Fund volunteers in Baton Rouge, LA, are working with American Red Cross and local voluntary organisations to assist in relief efforts.

Monday, September 05, 2005

PRESS RELEASE : Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, Inc.
Southwest Region • Houston Chapter
8731 RockyValley Drive • Houston, Texas77083
www.hssus.org
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SUBJECT: KATRINA RELIEF REPORT
DATE: SEPTEMBER 5, 2005

The Houston Chapter of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, Inc. (“HSS”), continues to work toward assisting evacuees affected by Hurricane Katrina.With its citywide presence, HSS has been able to offer support to several shelters located away from the Astrodome.

HSS branches in Clear Lake, Pearland, and Katy have contributed supplies and volunteers to shelters there. Notably, four volunteer physicians in the Pearland branch have had the opportunity to provide Katrina evacuees with medical care. Similarly, the Katy branch has even suggested leading yoga classes for the adults and play activities for the children. All these branches will also be providing volunteers on a recurring basis for the next several days.

Additionally, HSS branches in Baytown and Spring have collected supplies to contribute to shelters in their communities and will contribute volunteers as well as opportunities become available.HSS has also contributed to the Astrodome shelter as well, with both volunteers and supplies. To this end, HSS made a significant donation of 2,000 personal care kits, assembled with help of over 20 volunteers.
As long as evacuees will be housed in area shelters, the Houston Chapter of HSS will continue to provide support.

CONTACT: AMIT K. MISRA

CHAPTER SECRETARY
V: (832) 723-4776
F: (832) 476-9656
E: amitkmisra@hotmail.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Houston Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Daily updates:

We delivered a batch of supply (duffle bags/umbrella/socks/alarm clocks/some womens cosmetics) today evening to the Katy shelter.

They informed today that besides these items, they have some urgent need for 15-20 blankets (used or new). They are out of all the blankets as of now.

We shall be calling them tomorrow morning to find out about their other requirements.

Report from San Antonio, TX, Sewa International + HSS with Redcross





Report recieved following rom San Antonio.

San Antonio city has housed more than 25000 Kathrina Victims. September 3rd and 4th our volunteers have swung into action to help the victims. All volunteers are registered as a red cross volunteer, an official agency giving relief to the victims. We have noticed acute medicines shortages, food shortages and blanket/Pillow shortages during the first day. Infact more than 3000 victims could not be provided food in a timely fashion.

Food Inchage of Red cross Peter requested us to provide 500+ sandwiches on a emergency basis. 22 of our sewa volunteers(most of them are from TCS software engineers) immediately came to our help. In 3 hours we have procured all supplies, made sanwiches and delivered to Red cross and it was distributed in 20 minutes for the people waiting in the line.

Photos are provided for our records.

TCS has agreed to give upto 10 volunteers a day in San Antonio for the sewa services to Kathrina victims. We were the only non-americans providing help in this relief camp and it was very much appreciated by the local red cross.

Next Step
We are mobilizing the local Indian doctors group with AAPI's help to provide the continuous relief to these victims. Dr.Vijay Koli, National President AAPI, Dr.Jayesh Shah and Dr.Venkat Srinivasan are in the forefront in giving these services. Dr.Malathi Koli has started the counselling services to the victims.

The whole Indian community has been mobilized with the Hindu Temple of San ANtonio's help to give the relief to these victims on a continuous basis for next few months.

Venkat

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Pictures of Sewa International in action in Houston

Here are some pictures of Sewa Internationa's help.Over 2000 packets of toopaste, soap and other personal items were distributed at Reliant Center in Houston.

For information about sewa international http://www.sewaUSA.org












Saturday, September 03, 2005

How to get help to those hurt by Hurricane Katrina

Attached is an information note for wide dissemination through the
media.

Hurricane Katrina is an extraordinary disaster that has affected many
people in
America.

In hindu tradition, seva is the highest dharma, paramodharmah. The
attached info. on helping those hurt has to be widely circulated.
Three contacts are mentioned therein: American Red Cross, HSS, IDRF.

Kalyanaraman

How to get help to those hurt by Hurricane Katrina

India Development and Relief Fund

The IDRF operates on the simple principle that "Service to Humanity is
Service to God". In 1999, IDRF was effective in helping us get
assistance to the families of Indian soldiers who died in protecting
India from global terrorism in the snowy heights of Kargil. In 2001,
IDRF sent $25000 to the families of New York firefighters who died
trying to save the victims in the World Trade Center terrorist attack.
Known for quiet effectiveness, both in swift emergency response and
long-term support for grassroots reconstruction projects that empower
the local people, IDRF provided the means for Indian-Americans to
deliver effective relief and rehabilitation following such
mega-disasters as the Orissa Cyclone, the Gujarat earthquake, and t
organization's tsunami relief efforts from Dec.26, 2004 onwards, are
seen at this page. Now they are collecting funds to help neighbors hit
by the hurricane and flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi.

From
http://www.idrf.org/

"Our volunteers in Baton Rouge, LA are working with American Red Cross
and local voluntary organizations to assist in providing relief
efforts. There is a need for long term rehabilitation and all your
contributions will be directed to the grass roots organizations."
Contacts:
Suresh Deopura
suresh@dewsoftware.com, Vijay Pallod pallod@aol.com, Raghu Verabelli
idrfboston@yahoo.com, Babulal Gupta Idrf_blg@yahoo.com


HSS Relief Activities:
One of the organizations that IDRF uses in India to deliver reliable,
effective support to the grassroots is Sewa International. Sewa can
also be reached through the HSS. From their Press Release:

The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has designated Amit Misra,
amitmisra@sbcglobal.net as contact for relief activities.
All 90 chapters of HSS in the US are helping through collecting
donations, canned foods, cookies, crackers, bottled water, juices,
medical supplies and blankets. HSS requests all monetary contributions
directed to Sewa International or American Red Cross. Dozens of
volunteers from Houston, including children attending several
Balagokulams, have already started the collection. The HSS office at
Keshav Smrithi, 4018 Westhollow Pkwy, Houston, TX 77082 has been
designated as the contact point for all relief efforts.

HSS is working with authorities in Houston in meeting the immediate
needs of the displaced people arriving from New Orleans. The
government officials and American Red Cross have opened various
shelters in Houston. HSS volunteers will serve in these local Red
Cross shelters in Houston and other area. Volunteers are also
coordinating with other shelters and motels, which have become
temporary homes for victims. Volunteers are also contacting
physicians, asking them to contribute their time and medical supplies
and businesses to provide material help.
Contact
Sharad Amin to join the relief activities
sharad_a_049@yahoo.com

American Red Cross
http://www.redcross.org/
"The American Red Cross, with support of the worldwide Red Cross and
Red Crescent Movement, is launching a Web site and hotline to help
assist family members who are seeking news about loved ones living in
the path of Hurricane Katrina."
Various contact and volunteer participation mechanisms are given on
the Red Cross website. One of the resources they operate is the
Family News Network of the International Committee of the Red Cross
http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/katrina

Here are some suggestions from their site, valid for all disasters:
Volunteers coming in contact with the survivors should especially help
the survivors in this:
"With widespread power and communications outages and roads under
water, it's important to go back to communication basics to ensure
that your family and friends know you are safe:
•Call an out of town contact to let them know you are safe.
•Ask them to spread the word to your family and friends.
•Make sure your contact lives far enough away that they are not
affected by the same storm.
•Rest assured that emergency responders are working as quickly as
possible and are doing all that they can to help those affected.
•Remember that storms mean power outages and downed phone lines.
Please keep trying and be patient.
•Phone lines are often overwhelmed after a disaster. Try sending an
email if you can—sometimes email works when phones don't."

"American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by
voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You
can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each
year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster
Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food,
counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW
or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Donations are also being accepted at
Coinstar machines at select grocery stores across America. To find the
nearest Coinstar machine, visit www.coinstar.com. Contributions to the
Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross
chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC
20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by
visiting www.redcross.org."

RSS workduring floods in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra

-RSS JANAKALYAN SAMITI -

Help provided by volunteers for first 8 days after the 26th July deluge

to flood devastated people of Mumbai and Kokan Region


Mumbai

1. Help & guidance Centres : 22

2. Hamlets : 76

3. Helped Families : 80,000 people of 17,000 families

3. Cleaning & Conserving : 35 Dumper Garbage cleaning.

22 hamlets - Cleaning / fumigation and water purification

4. Emergency Housing : For 2 days - 10 places

For 6 days - 6 places

5. Distribution of Grains : 20 tonnes

6. Supply of plastic sheets: 400 families

7. Mats & Bedsheets : 2000 people

8. Medical Help : Medicare centers for 5 days - one

For 4 days - one

Medical camps - 8

‘Chlorovat’ for water purification – 3,000 bottles (1 per Family)

9. Food Supply : 2000 people for 5 days

Biscuit Packets - 1 gross Bread - 4,000 loafs

Tea & Sugar - 135 kg. Milk - 4,000 Litre

10.Volunteers : 1,200 Volunteers

11. Other Highlights :

• Removal of debris, boulders & muck at Sakinaka land slide site

• Similar removal of debris at Mandala (Chembur), B.A.R.C. Labour colony.

• Safe passage provided to 250 commuters from Ghatkopar to Thane by Vikroli Nagar Secretary from his own vehicle.

• Providing boarding & lodging in Swayamsevaks own houses for 500 people of Prabodhan Nagar & Unnatnagar whose houses had submerged.

• Provision of boarding & lodging for 200 people belonging to Aappa Pada-Malad by Harishchandra Yadav, Nagar Sanghchalak at his factory and at his house both of which had submerged in the flood.

• 10 families of Mahakali Shantinagar were looked after at swayamsevak’s residence.

Thane, Raigad & Ratnagiri Region

1. Help Centres : 31

2. Villages provided

with help : 135 villages, 34 hamlets & 13,152 families.

3. Food Supply : 77,250 people for 2 to 3 days.

Food packets for 600 travellers of ‘Mangala Express’.

4. Distribution of Grains : Grains - 25 tonnes Oil - 2,000 kg.

5. Mats & Bedsheets : 6800 people

6. Clothing : 17,000 people

7. Utensil Kits : For 2,000 families

8. Cleaning & Conserving : Cleaning & fumigation at Thane, Kalyan, Dombivali & Chiplun.

14 Truck load of Garbage.

45 volunteers Cleaned & sweeped the mud filled Mahad Market area Chiplun

areas for 3 days.

9. Medical Help : 26 villages – 11,650 people

17 doctors worked for 2 to 3 days non-stop

Water purification – 8,000 bottles of ‘Chlorovat’

10. No. of Volunteers : 1,315

11. Other Highlights :

• Help to Govt. surveys at Kalyan, Dombivali

• Rajaram Patil, Sangh Swayamsevak single handedly saved many women and children from

Kalyan (East) Chawl & provided succour at his own residence.

• Cremation of 30 bodies at the request of Kalyan-Dombivali Police by volunteers.

• Opening of fair price shop at Titwala to overcome price hikes by local shopkeepers.

• At Ulhasnagar, Taluka Secretary though not knowing swimming saved a woman and her two

children from 8 ft. deep gorge.

• At Badlapur 65 people were saved from watery grave who were drifting in a flood current.

• At Dudhani landslide Matheran hill local volunteers climbed by rapling with the help of

‘Nisarg Mantri Mandal' & gave initial help.

• At Veldur Tal. Guhagar – Two Muslim Fishermen Societies brought 130 family kits consisting of utensils, mats, bedsheets to RSS Office. They requested that the distribution of these material should be undertaken by Sangh workers only. The first 10 families were given these kits in their presence. The workers of the fisherman societies offered further help whenever necessary.

• At Chiplun the Sangh Office was converted in to a Control Centre. The govt. officers and municipal employees were directing all those requiring help to this office saying that, if you require urgent help, contact Sangh Office.

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Maharashtra Flood Relief
1)The relief work started on 27th July itself, when many of our volunteers joined local residents in distributing bananas, tea, biscuits, water etc at many points in the city to people who were stranded in vehicles on the road.

2)Subsequentely, since 30th July we are distributing appx 12,000 food packets per day, in addition to clothes,utensils, food grains etc(appx. 15,000 packets) and arranged medical camps covering over 5000 people in Kalva,Kalina,Dharavi and Dombivli.


3)We have set up a community kitchen at Kalva for which the Maharashtra Government has given two tons of food grains. Food is cooked at a central place and distributed to appx 1200 families everyday and this will continue till 11th August.

4)In Mahad(Konkan region) community kitchen was set up in which appx. 7000 people were fed every day for 6 days. Clothes, utnensils, stoves, blankets etc were also distributed to over 1000 families. Trauma relief camps have commenced.
5)In Sangli and Kolhapur our volunteers hace covered 50 villages and arranged for distribution of clothes, utensils and other items.

6)The Government of Maharashtra has appointed us as the nodal agency for distribution of aid in Kalina, Kalva and Dharavi.

7) Shri S .N. Tripathi,(IAS) Chairman of Finance Commission, who is heading ther relief committee complimented all our volunteers based on the good reports he got.

7)Our next phase of action includes post-truama relief sessions in all affected areas.

8) Medical camps were conducted in Shivajinagar at the Kalwe East railway station.

9) On August 5th, food was distributed to more than 1000 people in Mahatme-Pule (Khadi area)

10) On July 31st 600 packets of Puri-Baji was distributed. One truck load of clothes collected by volunteers was distributed

11) On July 30th, 70kgs of pulav (rice and lentil) was prepared and distributed in Mahatma-phule


Gujarat Flood Relief

Report from Surat

Our volunteer's are vigioursly working for hours together to make food packets and distribution. Our volunteers is very appreciated by Chamber of commerce and other NGO's in surat.

- For first 3 days more then 25000 food packets including poori and sabzi(vegetable dish) are delivered to 15 - 17 affected areas.

- 47000 food packets and 2,50,000 water pouches were delivered out of which around 30000 foodpackets and 50000 water pouches were delivered to the affected areas nearby baroda.

- Looking at the increase in the affected number of slums and villages Chamber of Surat called for a meeting wherin our institute was the first one to reach inspite of a short span of information and looking at the strong network, distribution and collection of things chamber authorities were highly impressed.

- And the very next day Surat Collecter as well as Gujarat Supply minister (Narrotambhai Patel), called for NGO Meeting wherin they had 2 options either to suffice the requirement of 1 lakh food packets and water pouches and the other one was to adopt 15 affacted areas where NGO's had to take up the responsibilites.

- They gave the responsibilites of 5 villages, Una, Kharvasa, Sachin, Parvat and Khumbaria, (wherein Una is the worst affacted area) to Art of Living and IAHV. for another 3 months, which was fullfiled to the fullest which included medical camps, sanitation, cleanliness.and we also included Navchetna shibir so since last 1 week our team is vigiouresly working upon it.

- Our NGO sent 1,05,000 water pouches and 25,000 food packets to collecter office for surrounding areas of Baroda

-Around 1800 people have undertaken the medical camp facilites and every day 3 - 4 medical camps are working constantly. Also the sanitation work is going on properly.

- AOL got Award from the five major groups of surat (Terapanth yuvak parishat, Agarwal Vikas Trust, Mohanlal Jhahu public charitable trust, Surat jilla vysya maha sanmelan) stating Sewa Sanman (Respect to service).

- Even Surat FM was impressed by our work on the word of chamber of commerce president and they published our 10 mins interview.

Sewa International to Help Katrina Victims

Sewa International, Inc.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 1, 2005

Contact for further information: Srikanth Konda, srikonda@yahoo.com,
678-362-7480.

Sewa International to Help Katrina Victims

Sewa International, a charitable organization, expresses deep anguish
and sorrow at the loss and disruption of life and the property damage
caused by hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
This is truly "one of the worst natural disaster in our nation's
history" as stated by President Bush.

Sewa volunteers in Texas and Louisiana have begun working with
American Red Cross and other organizations to provide immediate
relief. Sewa International is also identifying the long-term needs of
the people and will be working with governments of Louisiana and
Mississippi to meet those needs.

Sewa International urges individuals, companies and organizations to
donate in order to provide assistance to those who have suffered from
Katrina. All
donations will be used to sponsor projects such as providing materials
and building (or rebuilding) homes. Volunteers will be visiting New
Orleans shortly to meet with local authorities to identify the
specific projects to be undertaken.

Sewa International, Inc., is a not-for-profit, non-religious,
non-political and tax-exempt charitable organization under 501(c) (3)
with Tax ID # 20-0638718. It has over 25 years of experience in relief
and rehabilitation work in 15 different
countries. Following the recent Tsunami disaster, Sewa USA was
involved in construction of villages in Tamil Nadu, India and in Sri
Lanka. Sewa USA is run
by dedicated volunteers and has an administrative overhead of less than 4%.

Donations can be made online at www.sewausa.org. Checks can be mailed
to Sewa International USA, P.O. Box 2376, Duluth, GA 30096. Any amount
will be
appreciated.

For more information, please contact national coordinator Srikanth
Konda at srikonda@yahoo.com or 678-362-7480 or local coordinators,
Dhiraj Rathi at
dhiraj_rathi@yahoo.com or 713-384-0068 or Venkat Subramaniam at 512-689-3256.

For more information please see the website at www.sewausa.org.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina tragedy and hindu community response

I feel proud to be a hindu today. The magnificent, spontaneous response of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) by organizing to perform the seva work makes me cry that there is still humanity left, amidst the horrendous reports coming out in the media. I feel proud to be a hindu today.

I feel proud to be a hindu today because such response is what sanaatana dharma (eternal dharma) is all about. Dharma is an ordering principle. When a community is in such dire straits, it is human responsibility not only to offer solace to the victims of the Katrina natural disaster but to reach ou to each of the victims to give them hope that there are people, their brothers and sisters who will not allow any natural disaster to overwhelm dharma. I feel proud to be a hindu today.

I feel proud to be a hindu today because there are heroes in America, heroes like Amit Misra, Sharad Amin and Khanderao Khand and hundreds of other swayamsevaks (volunteers of their own volition) who have answered the cries of anguish of the victims of Katrina with spontaneous, cultured responses to mitigate the suffering of the victims, in this hour of need. Relief activities of this kind are referred to as seva in the languages of Bharatam, that is India. The sanaatana dharma has enjoined on us a simple, but powerful doctrine : jana seva, narayana seva. Rendering service to the people is rendering service to narayana, the paramaatman. This is the purest form of yoga where every aatman seeks out the paramaatman through seva. This seeking out is yoga. How to define culture? It is, simply, an automatic pattern of good behavior. The Bhagavadgita, the song celestial notes: karmanyevaadhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadaacana; 'Dispassionate Duty is your responsibility, not ever yearning for fruits of your actions.' This is dharma in action. This is what Andre Gide said in French: l'acte gratuite, unmotivated action. This is what is seen in the actions of HSS. I feel proud to be a hindu today.

I feel proud to be a hindu today. There is hope for humanity. So long as there are men and women like Amit Misra, Sharad Amin, Khanderao Khand and hundreds of other swayamsevaks to reach out with a helping hand, there is integral humanity which overcome all odds. A friend in need, is a friend indeed. I feel proud to be a hindu today as I and all members of my family offer prayers for America, with tears in our eyes. May dharma protect America. The saying is: dharmo rakshati rakshitah. Dharma protects those who protect dharma.

Dhanyavaadah (Salutations in humility).

Kalyanaraman

HSS Serving Katrina Victims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 2, 2005

Media Contact for further information about HSS relief activities:

Amit Misra, 832 723 4776, amitmisra@sbcglobal.net

HSS Serving Katrina Victims

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) expresses heartfelt sympathy for the
victims of hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in
the USA. HSS urges all Hindus in America to rise to the occasion by
addressing needs of the people suffered by hurricane Katrina.

HSS has appealed its hundreds of volunteers in all 90 chapters of HSS
to help through collecting donations, canned foods, cookies, crackers,
bottled water, juices, medical supplies and blankets. HSS requests all
monetary contributions directed to Sewa International or American Red
Cross. Dozens of volunteers from Houston, including children attending
several Balagokulams, have already started the collection. The HSS
office at Keshav Smrithi, 4018 Westhollow Pkwy, Houston, TX 77082 has
been designated as the contact point for all relief efforts.

HSS is working with authorities in Houston in meeting the immediate
needs of the displaced people arriving from New Orleans. The
government officials and American Red Cross have opened various
shelters in Houston. HSS volunteers will serve in these local Red
Cross shelters in Houston and other area. Volunteers are also
coordinating with other shelters and motels, which have become
temporary homes for victims. Volunteers are also contacting
physicians, asking them to contribute their time and medical supplies
and businesses to provide material help.

Name
Purpose
Email
Phone

Amit Misra
Media Contact for Relief Coordination
amitmisra@sbcglobal.net
832 723 4776

Sharad Amin
To join the relief activities
sharad_a_049@yahoo.com
281 762 3178

Khanderao Kand
About HSS
sampark@hssworld.org
408 368 2709