Sewa International, a global volunteer organization
and Hindus of Greater Houston, an umbrella
organization of Hindu temples and organizations from
Houston, Texas have joined hands in helping the
victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Sewa International has raised over $100,000 for Karina
relief. Hundreds of Sewa volunteers across the
country have joined in the relief efforts. In
response to the Interfaith Ministries’ call for the
various faith communities to support this united
effort and based on their personal beliefs, Hindus are
volunteering in large numbers. Many of these
volunteers are members of the second generation and
also include persons of non-Indian origin.
In Houston, there are more than 150,000 evacuees from
Louisiana. The Hindu community in Houston has accepted
the responsibility of providing 240 volunteers for
feeding people in shelters for one day (breakfast,
lunch and dinner) in addition to helping with the
other Indian-American community organizations.
Showing their strong commitment to helping the needy,
Sewa volunteers, within a day, put together 1000
hygiene packets (of soap, toothbrush, shampoo, etc.)
and delivered them to the Astrodome, Houston on
Sunday, Sept. 4.
Sewa International is also coordinating the volunteer
service with the various Hindu temples,
Indian-American organizations and others. In addition
to serving meals, helping with computer centers in the
shelters, and providing the hygiene packets,
volunteers are also working to find alternative
accommodation for families that had arrived earlier
and had been staying in hotels and motels.
Sewa International is also working with Hindu
Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), a Hindu volunteer
organization with 90 branches spread all over the
country. Many of HSS branches are currently involved
in volunteering for relief activities. Many of the
HSS-Balagokulam children and youth are organizing and
managing various aspects of the volunteer work. HSS
office in Houston has been designated for the
coordination of relief activities.
The city of San Antonio is housing more than 25,000
Katrina evacuees. On Sept. 3 and 4 Sewa
International-USA volunteers swung into action to help
the victims. All volunteers became registered as
volunteers with the American Red Cross (ARC), an
official agency giving relief to the victims. At the
request of ARC for emergency help, the volunteers
provided more than 700 sandwiches. Within three hours
Sewa workers procured all supplies, made sandwiches
and delivered them to the Red Cross, and they were
immediately distributed to people waiting in line.
Sewa volunteers are working with the local Indian
doctors group in San Antonio. Dr. Malathi Koli, a
leading psychiatrist has started counseling services
for the victims. Dr. Koli is very experienced in
counseling disaster victims as she, on Sewa
International’s invitation, ran medical camps in
Tsunami-affected areas of Tamil Nadu. Also, a number
of San Antonio-based software programmers are
registered with the ARC relief camp to provide
Hindu volunteers are helping evacuees who had been
living in motels get settled into apartments and
houses. Helping get the school-age children into
schools has also been a high priority for volunteers.
The volunteers are also providing assistance to
students of Indian origin from Louisiana.
Texas volunteers have not found Hindus in the various
shelters possibly because they may be staying in
hotels or motels. Some, of course also had family
members who were able to take them in.
Sewa International – USA’s motto is: “Vasudhaika
Kutumbakam” - Whole world is one family and “Sarve
Bhavantu Sukhinah” - Let everyone be happy
Although the shelter residents do not include Hindus,
Sewa International volunteers and other Hindu
volunteers are working hard to help all who are in
need. They are putting into practice their belief that
service to humanity is service to God.
Non-perishable items are being collected and can be
dropped off at HSS Houston office, Keshav Smruthi from
5 to 7 pm. On-line credit cards donations can be made
For more information you can call
Sewa International - Houston coordinator Dhiraj Rathi 713-384-0068
San Antonio coordinator Venkat Subramaniam - 512-689-3256
Sewa International – National Coordinator Srikanth Konda at 678-362-7480
Media coordinator Gaurav Verma at 678-462-6203
Hindus of Greater Houston: Girish Naik at 281-851-6866