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On a cold, bright September morning I travelled to see Sewa Day in action. A school assembly was taking place at Barham Primary School in Brent with a special guest appearance by Mahatma Gandhi himself. As I walked into the reception I was delighted to see that the receptionist was wearing a Sewa Day T-shirt. “All the staff are wearing one” she continued when I gave her the thumbs up.
While I didn’t find this shocking, I did find it moving that the school, from Head teacher to receptionist had really embraced Sewa Day and were going all out to instil the act of Sewa into the minds of the young. Barham Primary has around 700 pupils ranging from 3-11 years old, so imagine the effect it may have on these children.
The assembly was split into year 4-6 and reception to year 3. Every child was wearing a Sewa day wristband. Every child knew what the words “be the change” meant and every child knew what Sewa Day was about. The school were teaching pupils the importance of Sewa and linking it back to the national curriculum on citizenship. St Luke’s Hospice gave a presentation which was at the children’s level. From some children’s facial expression, they knew exactly what a hospice was. It was also great to learn what the charity does and how it helps.
We soon arrived at our second destination; Uxendon Manor Primary school. As well as Sewa Day, the school were also taking part in World Peace Day and had combined the two events into one assembly. Once again each child was wearing a wrist band and members of the school council were wearing Sewa Day T-shirts. Our presence was not detected by the children and neither did they see our Gandhi look alike.
The stage was set with a picture of himself and the words “be the change you wish to see in the world” our Gandhi was introduced and as he slowly walked into the hall, there were gasps of shock and surprise and whispers of “is that really him” passing through the audience. Our Gandhi re-iterated the words and meaning of “be the change” and it felt as though he could have been David Beckham telling the same thing to these kids. They were absorbed by his words.
The assembly concluded with a tree planting ceremony at the front of the school where members of the school council tied messages of peace written by each year group. Once again Gandhi took centre stage and was featuring in every camera click. Whilst some children were busy planting the tree, others were planting flowers in beds and trimming back overgrown bushes. The head teacher told me he had taken some children out the day before to pick up litter in the park. He thought that the kids would reluctantly take part, but to his surprise each one of them went around enthusiastically picking up someone else’s rubbish. He was amazed at seeing what a difference it made to the young minds and without any hesitation he agreed to take part again next year. This is the effect Sewa Day has. When you see people performing an act of selfless service, who willing go out of their way and not expect anything back that is the power of Sewa.
Dips Maisuria – Schools Team