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  • 21 Nov 2022 8:08 PM | Anonymous

    My Sewa International Experience on Building Toilets in India

    By Ayan Mishra, St. John's High School, Shrewsbury

    In developed urban world, we take going to school for-granted. Going to school is a critical part of a child’s mental and physical development. It is just a part of our lives. However, nearly half the world’s schools lack clean drinking water, toilets, and handwashing facilities, putting millions of children at risk of missing out or worse catching diseases.

    In India, many households don’t have proper toilet facilities. Girls routinely drop out of school upon puberty due to lack of sanitation facilities in their schools. In India, every year, diarrhea, and other water borne diseases kill over 7.7 lakhs kids due to unhygienic sanitary conditions.

    This problem became evident to me upon my recent trip to India earlier in 2022. As my mother is a volunteer with Sewa International USA, we ended up visiting a village called Jharsa in Haryana in the northern part of India. We visited some government girls’ schools during that time. To my surprise, I was surprised to see the Jharsa middle school for girls of 500 students did not have a functioning toilet for the girls. The existing toilet was locked and only to be used by school staff. It never occurred to me that there would be schools somewhere on planet earth that would not have such basic services. While my mom was having conversations with the school kids, I overheard some girls say they are missing out on school because of this issue. It was quite a scene to watch how there were so many girls who wanted to attend school and learn and grow. But due to lack of facilities and functioning toilets, they were forced to drop out of coming to school. The visual sights made me realize how privileged we are here in America.

    Upon my return, I did some research online and found that about 30 million school children across India do not have access to sanitation facilities in schools. This was a real issue and something needed to be done here. It impacted me to the point that I told my parents that I would like to do something about it. If I was able to do something to raise awareness about building toilets in rural India, I would not just be helping 1000s of kids going to these schools. I would also be helping raise awareness in kids of my generation to do something more about this cause. I set a goal for myself by pledging to build 6 toilets by raising awareness through a facebook campaign.

    Talking to my mother, the first thing I decided to do was to start a Facebook Fundraiser to start collecting donations for the project. I shared it out with various people in my community, school, friends and family members all over. I started talking about the topic with friends in social gathering and after school as well. I printed QR codes on banners and pasted it out in locations like school notice boards, grocery schools and the Hindu temple.

    At first, it was a lot of hard work and I found people were empathetic to the cause but didn’t do much beyond a little bit. So, the collections on the Facebook fundraiser were low. I had to do something else. I decided to create a presentation and reached out to some of my mom’s friends, where I thought I would get invited to present in. To my amazement, I had a few different opportunities to present to different companies like Slalom Consulting, Acronis, Hitachi etc. and the donations started coming in.

    I was able to raise $2,200 dollars over the course of 60 days. I donated all this money to Sewa International’s Sanitation, Hygiene and Empowerment of the girl child (SHE) program that helped me in reaching my goal of building toilets and ultimately helping girls continue with their education. I wanted to do something for the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP) in India which is where my dad is from. The Sewa team members in India, told me about this opportunity in rural area around Fatehpur, UP where they had recently gotten approvals to build the toilets. We were able to complete the construction of building six toilets in Government Primary School, Bhagaonpur, with the help of Sewa International’s team in India. They even sent me a few pictures of beaming kids with smiling faces that would benefit from this little project of mine.

    India is a massive country and there is so much that we can do to build toilets across the country. Instead of being stuck by the enormity of the problem, I decided to do something to solve the problem. I was able to hit my goal of making a difference in the lives of all the kids going to school for years to come. This was in part possible by the various donors who came forward to help me and Sewa International for providing me with an opportunity and a platform to make a difference. More importantly, I also wanted to set an example for other kids of my age on how they can make a difference in the society we all live in and share. It’s all a matter of focus and determination.

    About the Author

    Ayan Mishra is 11 years old and attend’s Saint John’s Highschool in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He is an avid reader, part of the YMCA swim team and plays tennis for fun. He believes in helping the community. He has been volunteering with his parents for Sewa International USA, for the past two years. He is a student contributor to India Society of Worcester’s monthly newsletter. During his free time, Ayan volunteers at various charities around Boston area i.e. soup kitchens, community cleanup services, Cradles to Crayons to help and serve the community.

  • 24 Oct 2022 12:52 PM | Anonymous

    ISW Cultural School Kids: Hands-on Killa (Fort) Making Activity for Diwali
    By Aditya Ambade

    Diwali is a well-known Indian festival across the globe and is celebrated whole-heartedly by Indians no matter where they live. This year, the ISW cultural school introduced a tradition from Maharashtra to kids as a part of cultural assembly.

    During Diwali, kids in Maharashtra prepare Killa (fort/castle) in remembrance to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the king who started the Maratha empire in 16th century. Shivaji Maharaj carved out his own independent kingdom from the declining Adilshah regime of Bijapur which formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire. Shivaji's military forces expanded the Maratha empire by capturing and building forts and forming a Maratha navy. Shivaji Maharaj established a competent and progressive civil rule with well-structured administrative organizations.

    Shivaji Maharaj was well known for his forts. Many, like Panhala fort and Rajgad fort existed before him but others, like Sindhudurg and Pratapgad, were built by him from scratch. These forts were built at a strategical location for keeping an eye on the territory while maintaining minimum military presence in that geographic region.

    For this cultural hands-on activity, kids were asked to bring disposable plastic, metal materials from home while ISW provided rocks, soil, water and adult supervision. The kids discussed the fort building plan amongst themselves with input from adult group leader. Then, kids started stacking the rocks, bricks and other disposable materials to bring their fort design to reality. They had made few changes as the fort construction continued to ensure that the 3-dimensional structure was stable as a stand-alone entity. Then came the fun part, kids mixed the soil with water and applied layers of mud on the pre-stacked rocks to give the rocks a formal appearance of the fort. This hands-on activity taught teamwork, planning towards project execution and knowledge of regional rich culture and heritage related to Diwali.

    The kids thoroughly enjoyed this activity and it’s end was made even sweeter by generous snacks/ donuts from parent volunteers!

  • 10 Oct 2022 11:06 PM | Anonymous

    अभिलाषा मेरे मन की

    सदा राग द्वेष से दूर रहूँ
    गंगा सा पावन जीवन हो,
    बनूँ ज्योति पुंज और स्नेह सिंधु
    कोमल काया, निर्मल मन हो।

    आँगन में खेले खुशहाली
    सौभाग्य सुमन भरा उपवन हो,
    वाणीं में मिश्री सी मिठास
    स्नेह  सिक्त  हर बंधन हो।

    कर्यतव्यों से ना फिरूँ कभी
    पर निंदा कभी ना रुचिकर हो,
    मुस्कान भरूँ हर जीवन में
    करूँ काम जो सबके हितकर हो।

    कभी सच का ना छोड़ूँ दामन
    और झूठ,प्रपंच से नफ़रत हो,
    हर राह सुगम हो जीवन की
    खुशियाँ बिखराना फ़ितरत हो।

    सुख दुख मैं अपनों के बाँटूँ
    हर रिश्ते में अपनापन हो,
    उम्मीद पे सबकी खरी उतरूँ
    सुख शांतिपूर्ण मेरा जीवन हो।

    संतुष्टि का अतुलित कोष मिले
    दृष्टांत ये अपना जीवन हो,
    यहीअभिलाषा मेरे जीवन की
    प्रभु अंत समय तेरा दर्शन हो।

    स्वरचित
    9.18.2022             आशा

    My heart’s Desire

    I should be far from resentment,
    The life should be 'pious like mother Gangese'.
    And be like the bunch of light rays and the ocean of love'.
    I should appear polite and with pure heart.

    Our courtyard be full of happiness,
    The garden be full of flowers of good fortune.
    My voice be sweet like sugar candy.
    My relations with all be full of affection.

    I should be dedicated to all my duties
    Should never like to dispraise others.
    Should induce smile for others
    My deeds be helpful to all.

    I must remain always truthful
    And hate the lie and deceit
    The way of life to all be easy
    By nature I must spread happiness.

    I should share and participate in the happiness  and sorrow of others.
    There be selflessness in all my relations.
    I should prove fruitful to others expectations.
    My life be full of ease and peace.

    I get the treasure of incomparable contentment.
    The life be exemplary
    This is the 'wish of my life'
    Oh God ! please be visible at the end of my life.

    Written by me on
    9.18.2022             Asha

  • 26 Sep 2022 10:09 PM | Anonymous

    ISW walks off with 1st Place Float for the 4th year!

    by Bhawna Sadhu, Amita Rao

    Hard work and terrific execution with the addition of the ISW Symphony Dhol Tasha Lezim group, put the beautifully decorated ISW Float in first place again making it four years in a row that ISW has received this honor. The parade was part of the Spirit of Shrewsbury festival spanning the weekend and led off with the Shrewsbury's Got Talent show, managed each year by ISW. It was a pleasure to watch more than 40 contestants participating across 4 categories. The amazing contestants ranged from 4 year to 76-year-old with a great mix of talent on display from beat boxing performances to math wizardry. The feedback was uniformly positive with comments from the judges, parents and participants thanking the organizers for such a well-organized platform to showcase talent. Thanks to the ISW Cultural Committee, the judges and ISW Community for supporting this.

    On Sunday, the second day of the Spirit of Shrewsbury, ISW participated in the Spirit of Shrewsbury parade. As we celebrate 75 years of India’s independence, ISW presented glimpses of children dressed in the native clothing of the different states in India and gave give a small peek at the amalgamation of cultures and traditions in India. The ISW team was excited to showcase the energetic rhythmic ISW Symphony Dhol Tasha Lezim ensemble - which represented the diversity and inclusiveness of Indian traditions wonderfully. The float was followed by Lezim dancers showcasing the folk-dance form with jingling cymbals that gave extra energy and rhythm. The ISW group give their heart and soul into this performance and had everyone listening to them dancing and enjoying along the way! For the fourth year in a row, the ISW Float was awarded first place. ISW welcomed judges to be part of Spirit of Shrewsbury parade.

    The winners of the Shrewsbury’s Got Talent show were

    Tiny Tots

    • Krithya Krishna
    • Jasmin Grover
    • Aditya More

    Young Icons

    • Dali Meng
    • Sahasra Singari
    • Sahiti Kundu

    Terrific Teens

    • Advait Bhowmik
    • Rihana Dash
    • Diya Gopal

    Amazing Artists

    • Grishma Shah Gandhi
    • Naresh Batra
    • Shilpi Batra

    We thank our judges -

    • Bhuvana Ganesh
    • Ruchi Chauhan
    • Keith Allan Kramer
    • Shrinivass.A.B

        

  • 26 Sep 2022 9:58 PM | Anonymous

    ISW Symphony Dhol Tasha Lezim performs at the Cancer Shakti event

    by Ashok Kale

    Cancer Shakti Foundation is dedicated to raising cancer awareness and supporting cancer patients and their families. ISW Symphony Dhol Tasha Lezim group (Symphony DTL) was privileged to perform at the Nara Park event.

    The evening couldn’t have been better with everything blessed - beautiful lakeside Nara Park, weather holding up for the event, awesome stage decoration, and a variety of entertaining performances. The organizing committee was extremely enthusiastic and very caring for the performers.

    Symphony DTL felt proud to be part of this noble cause. The team was fully ready well in advance and was cheering up from the sideline for the ongoing performances with the musical beats.

    The whole team was looking awesome, and many attendees couldn’t stop from taking pictures with our team. We added a couple of more local members to our Lezim with onsite training before the event. Also, we introduced one new pattern, especially for this event. Our performance started on the stage with a couple of patterns and then we slowly moved into the dancing audience to upbeat the atmosphere. We performed six different patterns which resonated well with many on the dancing floor (lawn) and was evident from their enthusiastic participation. Our energy was doubled and tripled with such an amazing crowd. 

    Above all, finally, the moment of truth when we all went up the hill and lit up the candles in support of breast cancer. Couldn’t have wrapped up the event any better than feeling internal happiness and gratitude.

    Thank You.

      

  • 26 Sep 2022 9:55 PM | Anonymous

    हिंदी दिवस

    by Asha Singh, Teacher, ISW Cultural and Language School

        —————————

    अपनी भाषा तो हिंदी है

    सुंदर गाथा तो हिंदी है ,

    मन के भाव को करे व्यक्त

    अपनेपन की परिचायक है,

    सुंदर इसकी हर ताल लय

    यह सुखकर है सुखदायक है।

    आओ इसका सम्मान करें

    निज बोल-चाल में आम करें,

    जन जन में चेतना लाएं हम

    यह गौरव है अभिमान करे।

    मातृ भाषा अपनी हिंदी

    हम बोलते हैं सुख पाते हैं,

    एक दूजे से बाँधे बंधन

    आपस में स्नेह लुटाते हैं।

    अपने देश की गरिमा ये

    दुल्हन के भाल की बिंदी है ,

    अपनी तो भाषा हिंदी है

    सुंदर गाथा तो हिंदी है !

    स्वरचित और अप्रकाशित    Authored and self published

    14.9.2022.         आशा

                                 (दिल्ली)

  • 29 Aug 2022 3:32 PM | Anonymous

    Why we should increase the driving age to 18

    By Shreya Nippani

    Imagine sitting next to your older sibling who just learned to drive a car. You’re zooming around the place when, bang! You crash into another car and the airbags deflate. You should read this because if you know or are related to someone who is about to get their license, you may want to re-think driving with them. My name is Shreya Nippani, I am twelve years old and live in the state of Massachusetts. Today you will read about why the age to drive a car should be increased. I chose this topic because when I come of age to learn to drive, I don’t want to be in any accidents. In this essay I will explain the problems that we currently face from teen drivers, the solution I am proposing to this problem, and what the world looks like if you take my advice or if you don’t.

    The main problem which we all are facing is the increasing number of accidents from adolescents and young adults while driving their cars. People are dying and getting badly injured from these accidents and we need to put a stop to this. You might think that the teens have supervision while they first learn to drive, but even then, accidents can happen to the most disciplined. Parents are concerned for their children because not only do they have to pay for any damage, but their child is risking their life as well as others’ lives too.

    According to Fox News, “A survey found that most parents of teen drivers have been worried about their kids' safety behind the wheel”. Lots of things can cause accidents to happen; social media, texting friends, as well as talking to people while they drive are only some of the causes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found evidence that in 2019 that, “38,800 people were killed in car accidents in the USA”. The CDC also said that in the same year, almost “2,400 teens were killed between ages 13-19 in the USA”. There is not any parent who would want to see their child get hurt. Many people might not even realize this, but there is no necessity for teens to be driving at that young age! Maybe their parents are too busy to drive them around or they just want their children to be more independent - there is nothing wrong with that. But would it hurt just to carpool or take a bus? Are teens just using this privilege to joke around or go to parties? According to the Portola Pilot, “Contrary to popular belief that allowing teens to drive will make them more responsible, 16-year-olds are simply not prepared to handle the mental and physical demands of driving. By just waiting two more years, the critical thinking skills, level of responsibility, and awareness of drivers would be greatly improved. Parents should rethink sending them to drive alone to places for unnecessary reasons. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says that “an adolescent’s brain is not yet fully developed or matured till the mid or late 20s”.

    Sending a teen to drive may not be the best idea considering their brain is embryonic. They aren’t aware of the consequences if they don’t pay attention and are more likely to crash their car. With all this evidence, it shows how dangerous it is for adolescents to be driving.

    This is why it is time to change the law!

    The solution that I am proposing to this problem is that the age to drive without parental supervision should be increased from 16 to 18 for every U.S. state. This way, there will be fewer accidents, injuries, and casualties. The first step is to spread the word to your local driving schools. We will explain the problem at hand and try to convince them to not allow students below the age of 18 to learn to drive. If that idea fails, the next approach is to create a petition. We will take a survey of parents in our town who agree with our idea, and they will learn more about the consequences and therefore prevent their children from driving at such a young age. This would force driving schools to increase the age they let people learn to drive. Once this has been accomplished, we will go to the governor and explain our idea. Subsequently, we will try to announce this around the country through social media. One way we can spread the word through the internet is by making a video about the consequences of driving when you’re an adolescent. Explaining about the dangers and risks of doing that will make people aware of the problem. Eventually, it will get the attention of governors around the USA and it will be passed to the president. If we have enough advocates, America will become an even safer place for drivers on the road.

    Let’s imagine what the world would look like if you don’t take my advice. Your adolescent is sitting in the car with their younger siblings. They are going shopping for groceries and are gone for a long time. Suddenly your phone starts ringing and you answer it. The police have just called to inform you that your children are badly injured and are at the hospital. They tell you that your teen was speeding and the crash resulted in others getting injured as well as the damage of your car. How would you feel if this happened? Would you just punish your child and forget about it? Or would you put a stop to this? There are crashes happening every day in the world and your child could be part of it. How would you like it if every time you go out, you see police everywhere and accidents on every road? You would never be able to get to work on time, ambulances would be stuck in traffic causing harm to their patients, and it would be extremely dangerous for adolescents to be driving in hazardous conditions. Let’s change that now before things get any worse! We can prevent negative consequences from happening if we all work together and support this cause. Just imagine how much better the world would be if we increased the age to drive a car to 18. Your child will be mature enough to know the privileges of having a car and will use it wisely. There will be fewer accidents on the road and it would be safer for everyone to drive. Take my advice and support the cause! Let’s make the roads a safer place for everyone by extending the age to drive to 18.

    Today we took a hard look at the facts of what makes teen drivers so dangerous, the solution I provided of changing the legal age to drive to 18, and what the world would look like if we don’t make a change. You can make a difference in the world so your children can live a safe and happy life. Vote to change the age to drive so there will be fewer accidents. Spread the word to everyone you know and explain to them how vital it is to increase the age to drive to 18. To all those adolescents out there, inform your friends about this so you can all stay safer on the roads.

    Join the cause today and let’s drive safe!

  • 1 Aug 2022 6:42 PM | Anonymous

    स्वतंत्रता दिवस

    —————-

    वर्षों से गुलामी की बेड़ी में

    अपनी भारत माँ जकड़ी थीं ,

    दी लहू की आहुति वीरों  नें

    ऐसी ज्वालाएँ भड़की थीं

    कुर्बानीं उनकी रंग लाई

    शुभ आजादी की घड़ी आई ,

    जयघोष से गूँज उठा अंबर

    रोमॉच से ऑखें भर आईं

    संघर्ष था जारी बरसों से

    अबविजयने ली है अँगड़ाई,

    अंबर पे तिरंगा लहराया

    मन में खुशियों की बहार आई।

    अपनी धरती अपना ये गगन

    उन्मुक्त हो गया अपना चमन,

    हम प्रेम के बीज को बोएँगे

    महकेंगे घर महकेगी पवन।

    आओ हम उन वीरों के

    सपनों को अब साकार करें,

    उन्नत ललाट रहे भारत का

    दुनियाँ में सदा उपकार करें।

    काश हमारी मातृभूमि से

    दु: का ,छल का पाप कटे,

    पुण्य का पनपे बीज यहाँ

    खुशहाली की फ़सल कटे।

    भारत माता की जय!

    वंदे मातरम !

    7 .17 . 2022           आशा


    "INDEPENDENCE DAY"

    Mother India was enslaved,

    For many many years,

    Our brave warriors shed their blood

    For the flame of freedom.

    Their sacrifice resulted,

    In the auspicious hour of freedom,

    The sky echoed with applause,

    And eyes were filled with tears of joy.

    The struggle of many many years,

    Then resulted in success,

    The tricolor flag waved in the sky,

    Bringing a tide of happiness.

    It is now our land and our sky,

    Our garden is also freed,

    We will sow the seed of love in it,

    To fill our home with its fragrance.

    Let us remember those brave fighters,

    And make their dreams a reality,

    Let India hold its head high with pride

    Let us help others in this world.

    We wish that our dear mother land,

    Be free of the sin of deception and sorrow,

    Let the seed of virtue grow,

    And harvest happiness,

    Long live Mother Bharat.

    Vande Mataram.

    7 .17 .2022.          Asha


  • 1 Aug 2022 6:40 PM | Anonymous

    By Ayan Mishra, Grade 7

    Hi, my name is Ayan Mishra. I live in Shrewsbury with my mom, dad and dog, Muffin. My parents were born and brought up in India and I am an Indian American by origin. I have been associated with the culture and traditions of India since birth since I have been visiting India every year with my parents. This article is very special because it talks about India’s historical 75th Independence Day. This day reminds us of the various sacrifices that many freedom fighters made to get India freedom and independence from the British Rule. This day and the year of the 75th Independence is being celebrated not only in India but in many countries across the globe with much ardor and pride, with people from different walks of life coming together. This special year is called “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” to celebrate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements!

    India declared independence on August 15th, 1947. Many revolutionaries fought and died so India could get its freedom from British Raj. The Indian Independence movement began during World War I and was led by freedom revolutionary Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Some other revolutionaries who joined and led this movement were Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Rani Laxmibai and Lala Lajpatrai.

    The first name that comes to our mind when we talk about Independence is, the father of the nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who was also known as Mahatma Gandhi. His famous hunger strikes and non-violence methods helped unite the nation. He was born on October 2nd 1869 and the entire nation celebrates this day as Gandhi Jayanthi. Gandhi was a lawyer, and founded several organizations which include the Non-cooperation movement, the Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha and the National Indian Congress. One fun fact about Gandhi is that he got his start as an activist in South Africa, not India. While he was in South Africa Gandhi faced discrimination which ultimately motivated him to campaign for the civil rights of Indians in South Africa and later leading the revolutionary movement in India along with many other strong revolutionaries.

    This year marks the 75th Independence Day and Indians all across the world are celebrating this big day in their own ways. Let’s start with our country, India. The first prime minister raised the Indian flag for the first time above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort in Delhi to mark our freedom from the British. This has become a tradition and this year our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi will raise our flag at the same place that the first prime minister did when we gained independence from the British. UAE is going to light up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in the colors of the Indian flag. New York city in the US is planning to light up the Empire State building with the tri-colors. This a moment of pride for all our Indians!

    Last but not the least, our own ISW is back with our India Day, celebrating this historical year at the DCU center on August 6th. This is one event that I have attended as a kid through my growing years always and have beautiful memories of attending and participating in the cultural program, singing the national anthem, participating in the parade, playing in the kids’ zone and lastly enjoying all the yummy dishes from different restaurants. I cannot wait to attend India Day this year and am hoping to see many of my friends at the event.

    Wishing everyone a very Happy 75th Independence Day!

  • 15 Jul 2022 2:59 PM | Anonymous

    ISW launched the new ISW Sports Committee and inaugurated the outdoor sports facilities on July 9th with the volleyball and pickleball courts. Pickleball is a game gaining quite a lot of popularity in America and is being enjoyed by people of all ages as it provides a decent level of exercise and is easy on the body! It is quite the combination of Tennis, Badminton and Ping Pong (aka table tennis). Volunteers painted the court according to the official court dimensions and kept it ready for the July 9th Sports Day Celebration.

    Pickleball attracted quite a crowd since it was something new and people were fascinated and wanted to learn about it. Our friend, Suhas Biwalkar, came down from NH to explain the rules of the game, which thankfully are simple and not very complicated. There were many matches held and almost a queue of people waiting to play. Many people who came for volleyball opted for pickleball instead.

    From the Chess Corner!

    Thanks to Radhika Chintapalli, who set up several chess sets for those interested, a sophomore in high school learned chess over 3 hours without checking her phone! It even attracted two visitors from another private function at the India Center and who’s chess playing attracted quite a crowd. People of different ages, from 6 years to 50 years, played and enjoyed chess.

    Abhijeet Nikte, Chair ISW Sports Committee

     

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