Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world
…Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. This adage is apt for Maria Seva Sangha.
Set up in 1981, this organization was set up by a lady named Ethel Brito, along with a group of public-spirited people. They worked together to obtain registration, tax-exemption, FCRA sanction and the like, to establish the institution’s credentials in the eyes of the public. While Ethel is part of the Governing Body now, a fresh set of socially-inclined folks keep the organization going today. It’s quite a task to keep efforts going for 30+ years but this low-profile organization has managed to do just that. Starting with a mid-day meal scheme in 1982, they have today branched into education; giving Pre-University Certificate (PUC) students scholarships to pursue professional and technical studies.
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How it all began
Some times one particular incident sparks off a major change and that seems to be the case with how Maria Seva Sangha was set up. Ms. Ethel Brito was volunteering with a small school in Ashoknagar, and purely out of curiosity she asked a class of 60 students this simple question: “How many of you bring lunch to school?”
24 hands shot up. That shocked her when she realized the majority were hungry. Then, she said, “Open the tiffin boxes children, I’d like to see what you have brought.” This was at the gentle prompting of the principal. It turns out that 11 of the 24 boxes were empty. Says Ethel, “Those kids were too proud to say they were hungry, so they just carried an empty box.” This sole incident led to the setup of Maria Seva Sangha – an organization through which she would provide midday meals and more to underprivileged school kids.
Maria Seva Sangha’s Nutrition Scheme arranges to serve a hot, nourishing meal each to some of the children in 23 schools across Bangalore today. Why some and not all children in these schools? And why just 21 schools in the city which probably has over a 100 schools? Because the scheme is specifically targeted at children whose families are not guaranteed at least one square meal a day. A background check on these families has been done by Maria Seva Sangha along with the schools that they work with confirms the same.
Maria Seva Sangha is looking for volunteers who can help with surprise visits to the kitchens they support. This activity is currently done by their staff; it helps ensure a level of cleanliness and quality. They would ideally like to do one surprise visit per school per week, for which they need more hands. Schools are located in and around the city of Bangalore.
Award for “Outstanding Service to Society” by the Social Work Foundation and Human Rights Association – October 1998
The Padma Bhushan Dr. M.C. Modi service Award for “Excellent Social Service to the Underprivileged” – presented to the President, MSS at a public function held under the auspices of the Senior Citizens Club (Central Government) by the Governor of Karnataka, Sri. T.N.Chaturvedi – 26th November 2002