Elaborating on the occasion, Ketan Bondre, President, Vivekananda Seva Mandal said, “We are a voluntary organization run by young professionals from various walks of life, who are contributing to the larger social good out of philanthropic commitment. The journey of past 25 years was a fruitful one in terms of the difference we could make into the lives of several underprivileged students, tribal women and men, students of urban poor background. We believe this is a journey to bring the light in the lives of underprivileged sections of the society, hence our theme for the silver jubilee function was Prakashyatri - the harbingers of light. The silver jubilee year, gave us the opportunity to conceive and execute 25 social activities, under 10 Seva (Social service) projects, on a larger scale and for the greater social impact. We have also founded an annual award to honour outstanding contribution in the fields of social service and felicitated three such outstanding individuals this year.”
Vivekanand Seva Mandal, the charitable trust founded in Dombivli, had commenced its development work in 1991 as a small library in this city of Mumbai Metropolitan region and initiated rural development work in village Vihigaon (Tehsil Shahpur of Thane district) in 1995, and expanded it to village Khodade (in Wada tehsil of Palghar district) since 2012. In its 25th year, it had adopted the theme of Prakashyatri – the harbingers of light - for celebrating its silver jubilee year. It felicitated three Prakashyatris for their social work at its event held on Sunday October 16 at Savitribai Fule auditorium Dombivli. The award comprises of citation, a trophy and a cheque of Rs 21,000.
While receiving the award Shirish Patwardhan, vice-chairman of Swa-Roopvardhini and one of the Prakashyatris said, “All the three organisations, whose leaders have been felicitated by awards today (Swarupvardhini, Udyog Vardhini, Joint Forest Management Committee, Baripada) and the organizing host Vivekananda Seva Mandal, are bound by the common thread of Seva or service to the mankind. Each one of them is trying to bring about Social Change in their own way. We must acknowledge and appreciate these efforts. Such positive work is a need of the society.”
This Silver Jubilee celebrations also saw a proud and heartening moment for the organization, with this very Vihigaon being recently chosen by Rajya Sabha MP for Maharashtra, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe for development under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. “Vivekanand Seva Mandal’s ground work in Vihigaon has created appropriate base for further developmental work and this will facilitate implementation of projects in Vihigaon under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana”, said Vinay Sahasrabuddhe while addressing the audience through video call.
In June 2016, the organization had dedicated two small dams under 25 social activities under ‘Jalshakti Abhiyaan’ project in Vihigaon at the hands of Thane collector Mahendra Kalyankar (IAS). These dams can store 2 crore litres of water and the entire construction work was done by the organization with active participation from the villagers. This was funded by few donors including a national NGO Bharat Vikas Parishad and Tilak Nagar Ganeshotsav Mandal, Dombivli.
Under the educational stream, VSM this year deployed an innovative concept of library at your doorstep called `Pustakmitra’ in five schools. It consists of a box of 50-100 books for school students from rural areas. Also an Educational Centre is set up at Dolhare ashram school to provide educational facilities that city school students get very easily.
Other projects undertaken included, adopting one more Municipal school in Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation under its Nalanda Education Initiative, helping farmer communities and students in farmer-suicide affected villages of Vidarbha through Save Indian Farmers by deploying education software on Android tablets; developing a component Laboratory for students of Electronics Engineering.
On the occasion of the silver jubilee function, the three personalities felicitated with ‘Samajik Krutadnyata Puraskar’ (Social Gratitude Award) included Mrs Chandrika Chauhan, President of Solapur-based UdyogVardhini, Shri Chaitram Pawar, Founder, Joint Forest Management Committee, Baripada, Dhule and President of VanvasiKalyan Ashram, Maharashtra and Shirish Patwardhan, Vice Chairman of Pune-based Swa-Roopvardhini.
Shirish Patwardhan’s, Swa-Roopvardhini is a leading social organization working in the slums of Pune, that goes beyond regular school curriculum and aims at grooming the latent talent among youths.
Chandrika Chauhan of Udyog Vardhini has transformed not only her career but also that of other numerous women around her. Udyog Vardhini has taken shape as an institute, that trains and enables women to become entrepreneurs by using their day-to-day household skills.
Chaitram Pawar, is well-recognized for his developmental work in tribal village of Baripada. Some of the awards that he has received include Shetinishtha Shetkari Puraskar by Maharashtra government, first prize of Sant Tukaram forest scheme and a grant from International Fund for Agricultural Development, Bangkok, Thailand among others.