02 Oct

Following Gandhiji’s Talisman

Almost every textbook in our school used to start with the following talisman by Gandhiji. Some of the books, in fact, had it in the beginning of every chapter. As we grew up and as we turned pages of the new chapters of life, our encounter with the Talisman gradually became less frequent, ultimately reducing at best to an annual event on Gandhi Jayanti. However, we at Seva Setu are determined with all humility to reverse this trend and make sure that not only this encounter becomes more frequent but eventually we become one with this principle.

“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man/woman whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him/her. Will he/she gain anything by it? Will it restore him/her to a control over his/her life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”

Keeping this ideal in view, we have launched an initiative on the ground whereby our field karykartas identify and interact with the most deprived familiy/families in any village of the area allotted to them. The identification and assessment has both objective and subjective elements in it. It is followed by an internal discussion in our team where we build a map of actions with timelines which, we believe, will help the identified families “get more control over their life and destiny”. This is followed by on ground execution of the map.

Under this initiative, the first family that we are closely working with, is of Suratpur village, Raja Pakar block, Vaishali District, Bihar. The identified family has only two people – Sri Heegan Ram, who is around 70 years old, and his wife, almost 60 years old. With no land or any other immovable property or assets, the family’s sole means of livelihood (till we met them) was the meager, irregular income that comes from working as labourers on other’s land. With age, this too has become very difficult for them. One of the sons of the family recently died under mysterious circumstances in Chandigarh. The other son seems to have deserted his family. After we started working with the family, the lady has become a part of our Sattu production team and now makes Rs. 1,000 per month through it. The family, with our handholding, has bought two goats now and we are working together with them to build a profitable and sustainable goat rearing business for their family.

With hope and resolve, we march on! Together :-)

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