In a remarkable spirit of preserving our Vedic Hindu traditions and Hindu inspired cultural heritage, the Indian American community has made strides in addressing various religious and cultural needs through temples and regional associations, a needed first step in the adaptation process. At first we worked towards transplanting our culture and religion to our adopted land. Now as we, the New Americans, mature and root ourselves further in the sacred and secular landscape of America, we need to build national and local organizations focusing on serving -- with Seva Bhava -- contemporary needs of our growing community and the community at large.
Seva/service is an integral part of our culture and traditions. Many individuals and organizations volunteer and serve in soup kitchens, shelters, health camps, disaster relief, etc. But few Dharmic (Hindu/Jain/Sikh/Buddhist) institutions have the capacity to provide social services and do seva as is prevalent in other faith based institutions in America. Our Dharmic institutions need to understand the reality that the responsibility for community development and service is carried out largely through not-for-profits and faith based institutions – churches and synagogues -- in America. A transformation within our community’s temples and non-profits is needed to bring us on par with other established traditions and at the government policy levels as we, the New Americans, integrate in the communities in which we reside and provide needed services.
Transformation at the grass-roots level requires a mental paradigm shift to bring access to the services our communities need in contemporary America and to articulate our concerns at all levels of government. To really bring about a change, we need public recognition and acknowledgement of our issues and the need to address them effectively. By developing our own local Seva organizations within the temples and other faith based institutions, we will be empowered to address our issues.
Foster establishment of Seva Centers connected with faith based organizations/temples to address social needs. Develop coalition and partnerships of Seva Centers to accomplish common goals and provide broader exposure.
Our Community’s Social Service Needs:
· Unemployment and other impact of Economic crisis
· Health care (eg mental health, diabetes, addiction)
· Senior Citizens: health insurance, low income/poverty, community activities/ /isolation/mental health, elder abuse
· Women’s empowerment, motherhood, responsible fatherhood, healthy families, child abuse, domestic abuse
· Children and Youth – peer conflict, violence and gangs, after school programs, SAT prep, youth at risk, childcare
· Post 9/11 harassment, focused more on men
· Hindu Refugees (Bhutani) resettlement and homelessness
· Helping new immigrants adjust to the new land
· Civic and Political participation, civil rights and liberties
Goals & Objectives:
· Foster capacity development to serve All in America through the faith based temples/sampradayas in an organized manner
· Strengthen relationship with government and other faith traditions through in-culture, interfaith understanding.
· Foster and support establishment of Seva Centers in local faith based organizations/temples in major townships in states with large Indian American population
· Strengthen healthy communities, families and children, with emphasis on assuring the welfare of vulnerable children, women, men and senior citizens in our communities.
· Build a solid foundation to foster community self-reliance in contemporary America with needed community services
· Encourage local communities to connect with the available services for children (e.g., educational), women and for the senior citizens (e.g., medical) at local township level as well as state and federal level
· Support Indian Americans in creating positive changes in our communities and becoming an integral part of their local communities
· Play a role in promoting an integrated, pluralistic society in America in the 21st century. Develop bridges of understanding and coalitions across diverse groups in America.
Strategic Imperatives to reach our goals:
· Study the existing State of Hindu Seva in contemporary America in collaboration with Harvard University
· Based on research, assist temples/faith based groups to enable them to develop Seva Centers and become an integral part of their communities and serve those in need.
· Collaborate and partner with other interfaith and secular organizations on mutually beneficial projects.
· Conduct a comprehensive study of existing Seva Centers in collaboration.
· Out reach to large temples and develop a broad coalition
· Assist our temples in becoming more seva/service oriented
· Develop an organizational infrastructure for Seva Charities
· Work with established intermediaries and government.
About usHindu American Seva Charities (HASC) is a registered not-for-profit organization. It aims, as a coalition of Seva Centers within faith based organizations and temples, to assist in the development of social services in a manner similar to the United Way, Catholic Charities, National Council of Jewish Women and others. HASC is a service partner with The White House’s Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Serve America Program.