Louisiana Governor, Kathleen Blanco has recognised the timely efforts of Sewa International, USA (SI) volunteers in the aftermath of disastrous Katrina hurricane in the Gulf Coast. Sewa International, an organisation whose commitment and primary focus is on providing voluntary services to disaster-afflicted areas, worked round-the-clock in various cities of Louisiana, including the worst-hit New Orleans and Houston where a large number of victims have taken shelter. Governor Blanco expressed her views when a high-level delegation of SI, led by its international coordinator, Shyam Parande, called on her at Baton Rouge recently. The delegation, which included the former NRI Ambassador Bhishma Agnihotri, presented the Governor with a cheque of $15,001 for Katrina survivors.
In Baton Rouge, Shri Agnihotri was actively involved in relief and rescue operations, while in Houston, SI-USA was at the forefront of the voluntary work on behalf of the large Indian-American community, primarily of Hindu heritage. Volunteers in Houston and elsewhere worked with the American Red Cross, other non-profit organisations and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In reference to his meeting with Governor Blanco, Shri Parande said the Governor expressed her appreciation for the relief rendered by SI for Katrina survivors. Shri Parande conveyed the Governor'splea to displaced survivors, requesting them to return to New Orleans. ?Governor Blanco would like to see residents return to a place where there is no major demographic change,? said Shri Parande. Both he and Shri Agnihotri explained that it was the Hindu tradition to not give money ending in a zero. ?It means that this is only the beginning and not the end,? he explained. Shri Parande was there from India on a three-week 20-city visit in the US to thank people who had lent support during the recent tsunami.
In a letter to Governor Blanco, the SI had offered help for the post-Katrina relief works offering the State of Louisiana assistance from software training companies to provide computer-based training. The SI national coordinator Srikant Konda, who set up the meeting between the delegation and the Governor, has had extensive experience in providing volunteer leadership for over ten years, including a year in the Caribbean. ?In terms of community support, we were overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of so many reaching out to help those were desperately in need. Over $100,000 was raised by SI, mainly from Hindu-Americans, for Katrina hurricane relief,? said Shri Konda.
Following the recent tsunami disaster SI was involved in construction of villages in Tamil Nadu, India and in Sri Lanka. SI is run by dedicated volunteers and has an administrative overhead of less than four per cent. It has over 25 years of experience in relief and rehabilitation work in 15 different countries.