All India Conference on Volunteering
The All India Conference for Volunteering for Change was held at the United Service Institution of India in New Delhi, organised by Caritas India, on November 9th and 10th, 2017. There were over 200 delegates, interfaith, and movement leaders, from India and abroad including, H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Muniji, Co-founder, of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), President of Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh), and founder of the Ganga Action Parivar, who spoke during the inaugural ceremony. Dr. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary General of the GIWA, and President of the Divine Shakti Foundation, dedicated to educating and empowering children was also in an inspiring interfaith panel and spoke on the traditional and cultural underpinnings of volunteerism.
The Conference Director, Fr. Frederick D’Sousa, shared the message that “the world is one family (VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM), and familial sharing and caring for all, regardless of differences.” This is the root of volunteerism. The conference acknowledged the transformative experience volunteering can have on the performer, but, also, the importance of volunteering as a means of social change, promotion of equality, and development of sustainable long-term goals. The conference additionally offered opportunities to network and promote volunteerism by offering panel discussions on topics such as, Volunteering and Partnership, and innovative Strategies, Methodologies and Avenues, among others.
Watch Pujya Swamiji’s full speech here: https://youtu.be/SZRB-acqZcg, in which He shares, “We need to move from temples to toilets. To pollute the water is a green crime – it is violence – let sanitation and meditation go together. Service should be based on need and not based on religion. Creator – God is the first volunteer – with no discrimination – no vacation – we sleep but he breathes for us- he insures us – with no premium. God charges no fees – you close your eyes and he is there. I come from the Ganga – where I see people dump garbage – but she flows with no complaint – what a great volunteer – she keeps flowing – every evening in the banks of Ganga – when we chant – we pray for all – not for me, but for all. Hence, even if you cannot go to mosque, masjid or church sometimes, become a volunteer – give your service.”
The other eminent speakers on Pujya Swamiji’s inaugural session were H.E. Most Rev. Glambattista Diquattro, Apostolic Nuncio, Apostolic Nunciature, H.E. Most Rev.Jacob Mar Barnabos, Bishop of Gurgaon, Mr. Tony Castleman, South Asia Representative, @CatholicRelief Services, India Health Break and many other esteemed participants.