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Introducing Nanda Kishore And Nilendu Srivatsav, Dynamic 5 H Volunteers

Chitra Parayath

The 5H program is making a difference to this world through service and spirituality. The aim of this program is to uplift individuals and communities so that they become self-reliant: socially & economically. The main area of focus at the 5H Program are Home, Health, Hygiene, Human Values and Harmony in Diversity is a unique and effective social upliftment project that is helping people better their own lives. Addressing day-to-day material needs – potable water, solid homes, nutrition, education – it places keen emphasis on human values so that people assume responsibility for their life, their community, and their environment. 5H Projects are under way in many villages and cities across India and several other parts of the world.
We spoke with two volunteers Mr. Nanda Kishore, who was one among of the first group of youth Volunteers and Mr. Nilendu Srivatsav, a local businessman and philanthropist who swears by his commitment to the 5H cause.

Lokvani - Tell us about your background and involvement with the 5 H project.
Nanda Kishore
– I graduated from IIT in 1997 and was working as a software professional for two years. During this period, I got introduced to the Art of Living Foundation and it's charitable activities. The stories were very inspiring and I was always looking forward for a chance to contribute. When Art of Living announced it's 5H program in 1999, I enrolled without a second thought. I had been involved with the 5H program right from it's inception and had been responsible for various activities till date.
Nilendu - I came to New York City from India in 1969, got my masters in engineering, and also received my MBA. I worked in small companies for about fourteen years and in 1984 started my own automation company in the Boston area in the semiconductor packaging industry.. It grew to about 150 people with offices in Europe and the Pacific Rim. Last year I sold it, and I presently own a small company that manufactures medical devices. I have been happily married to my wife Renu for the past thirty-five years. We have two children and two grandchildren.
I have been involved with IAHV and 5H programs for the past four years, and am presently the Director of IAHV operations in the New England region.

Lokvani - How did this program motivate you and what have you gained from the experience of working towards the betterment of others' lives?
- Through various US organizations, my wife and I have been sponsoring children around the world for the past thirty years. We have also been involved with some other organizations involved in drilling tube wells for drinking water in the third-world countries and with women's education programs in rural India. When I heard about the 5H programs, it was like a one-stop shop. It has all the service projects we were already involved with, plus much more. But what really intrigues me is the 5H mode of operation and their very low overhead cost. Initially I did not believe that about 95% of the donation goes towards to the project. This is low overhead is made possible through the hard work of volunteers like us who run the programs. There are about 50,000 volunteers in 132 different countries involved in such programs. The other differential advantage I found in the 5H program is that it approaches problems at the grass-root level. It empowers village youth with the skill sets, channels their energy, and helps the communities become self-reliant: both socially and economically.
Nanda Kishore- I has been involved with some or other community activity right from childhood but always felt that something was missing. 5H program filled the gap. It actually empowers the people and inspires them to take responsibility for themselves. Take for example, building a school. What use is building a school in a village when there are chances that it might end up as a gambling den in a few months? 5H program, before building up a school actually builds up strong volunteers who will take care of the school afterwards. This is just one example. All other projects taken up by 5H are backed up by strong volunteers who are willing to be accountable. I felt this as a great way of doing it or rather the best way of doing it. Build a committed volunteer before taking up any project. That is sustainable development.

Lokvani - Who should be involved in this program? Do you need more volunteers?
Nanda Kishore
At the heart of the program is a person called "Yuvacharya", a youth volunteer. Yuvacharyas are a product of extensive training camps called the Youth Leadership Training Program, commonly called YLTP. 20000 volunteers have been trained so far. 4000 of them are working full time for the 5H program. 900 of them are supported financially by the Art of Living Foundation. On an average, one Yuvacharya takes responsibility for ten villages in a year. We need Volunteers in USA and other developed countries who can support a youth financially. It costs $100 a month to take care of all the needs of a Yuvacharya. We are looking forward to hear from people who want to support this noble cause by contributing $100 a month. Contributions made in the US are fully tax-deductible under 501? (3) non-profit educational organization status. A contribution of $1200 entitles you to 2, $100 complimentary tickets for a fund raiser dance event we are organizing on 25th July 2003.
More details about this event can be found at www.iahv.org.
And yes, we need lot of such volunteers as there are many youth totally motivated to work for this program. More number of youth we can support, more villages we can and will transform.
Nilendu - The 5H programs are basically providing service to less-privileged ones. It is everyone's duty to serve in whatever possible way they can. And yes, we always need many more volunteers because there is so much work to be done.

Lokvani - There are many who cannot donate their time. How else can one help in this cause?
Nanda Kishore
- There are many people who donate money. We will make sure that they are updated about the activities that go on in the villages and give them the bigger picture from time to time. We upload information periodically to our websites www.iahv.org and www.5H.org. In general, everyone can help by creating awareness about the work being done by the 5H program.

Lokvani - Even if someone does donate money, how does one know what use it is being put to?
- I am a businessman and therefore, always want to know how my money is being used. A few years after I donated money for tribal school buildings, I visited a few tribal schools in India. There are no roads; hence you travel by jeep for hours. There is no electricity, no running water, and no medical facilities. I have never seen that much poverty before. It really moved me to see that in the midst of this entire dearth there was a brick building - the tribal school - with a tube well and a beautiful garden. More importantly, there were about 150 properly dressed young boys and girls, with big smiles and bright eyes. The 5H program provides them with uniforms, books, supplies, teachers, basic medical facilities, one and a half meals per day, etc. It should be noted that their fathers and forefathers never went to school and always lived in poverty, but 5H is giving these kids hope and preparing them for a better future. I am very happy to see that my contributions are hard at work. We are very fortunate and blessed, and it is our duty to help the less-fortunate ones.
Nanda Kishore - The above mentioned websites give information about all the work accomplished so far. Here are some figures that reflect our achievements.
600 houses have been built.
12 borewells had been done.
2700 hygiene awareness camps have been conducted.
3000 medical camps have been conducted.
57 Public toilet blocks have been built.
28 tribal schools are being run.
One thing that might be the reason for 5H program to be very efficient money wise is the presence of lots of professionals in all it's activities. Taking an example of a medical camp, there are professional doctors who are willing to donate their time free of cost. Many times they also bring medicines along with them. A Yuvacharya goes and creates awareness in the villages about the medical camp and arranges for shade, food and other logistics. This works out pretty well in terms of finances. There are government projects where 10% of the money actually goes for the projects. In the 5H program, 95% of the money is spent on the projects, Nestle has donated a few thousand dollars for digging borewells in India and the project was completed with a cost overhead less than 200 dollars. Again it is the presence of many volunteers willing to donate their time that saves us all the money.

Lokvani - Thank you talking wth us and for letting us know about the great work that is being done by your organization.

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