It was an interesting interview taken by Obat Masira who wrote about Kenya Vegetarian Club and its activities in detail.
It is always a delight to get interviewed about my favorite subject in such a great depth.
Happy to share with you all, my dear readers an article about our Foundation which was featured in newspapers in Kenya on 28 July 2016
Shrivedant foundation has restored hope to many
More than 400 needy children drawn from Kibigori area, Muhoroni in Kisumu County line up for what they like most, a sumptuous meal and sweets every lunch time provided by Shrivedant Foundation. The Foundation built the original Kamleshwar Mahadev Temple, Kibigori more than 100 years ago before the facility was transformed into a modern shrine in July 2013 but has since become a blessing to hundreds of children from poor families. Vaishali Shah, the chairperson, Shrivedant Foundation said the motivating reasons that informed establishment of the Hindu temple in the remote part of the County has now turned the shrine into a beacon of hope for the many children and families through the feeding programme.
Shah said the Hindu community felt compelled to be part and parcel of the expansive Western Kenya community but with focus on the less fortunate in society who could hardly afford three square meals a day. “We wanted to do something unique as the Shrivedant Foundation which is a family trust set up by myself and my husband resolved to add value to the lives of local residents, particularly children”, she confided.
The foundation also conducts medical camps; donates household utilities alongside the feeding programme which has become popular with the children and other stakeholders who are already considering taking up other roles for the common good. Shah said they also give seed donations, train local residents on vegetable farming and tree planting even as Shrivedant Foundation spearheads the unique Kenya Vegetarian club that has attracted many people who don’t eat meat, fish and other related products.
The chairperson commended Kisumu Governor, Jack Ranguma and County Commissioner, John Elung’ata for their unwavering support including security to the facility and children amidst the expansive sugarcane plantation. Shah revealed that the foundation has a major development agenda for the area with the sole aim of creating employment and wealth for the local community with a view to transform their economic status. “We plan to build shops for medical and household goods to enable our people access quality services like health, education, water as part of our commitment to service to humanity”, she explained.
By Joseph Ouma
I look forward to this month each year because it is very special and has a special place in my heart. This month Shraavan is also known as Shivmaas, the holy month of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. As per the scriptures Lord Shiva tells his beloved wife Parvati that out of all the twelve months, Shraavan Maas (month) is the most special and glorious to him. It is believed that fasting on any day during this whole month reaps fruitful results. Many Hindus fast for the entire month living on a diet of fruits and milk breaking their fast after sunset with a light vegetarian meal. People refrain from habits like smoking and drinking during this month. Most switch over to a vegetarian meal adhering to a strict diet throughout the month.
It is believed that lord Shiva saved humanity from the deadly halahala poison by swallowing it during the samudra manthan. The entire episode of the churning of the ocean, manifestation of various objects and beings from the ocean like fourteen rubies, conch, kaustubh gem, deities like Lakshmi, apsaras like rambha, supernatural animals like kamadhenu the divine cow, airavata the white elephant and finally the pot of nectar -all these they say took place in the month of Shraavan. There are so many festivals to celebrate in Shraavan.
Shraavan somvars are extremely holy and Shivlings are bathed with milk and honey, people observe fasts and holy chants fill the air in and around temples. Kaavad yatras are common in some parts of the country as devotees collect holy water from sacred rivers in kavads or wooden pots which are tied to the end of a stick. These are carried by saffron clad kavadias who go from the tirtha sthaan to a sacred Shiva temple to perform abhisheks to shivalingas.
This year the first day of Shraavan is on 3 August and the month ends on 1 Sep 2016. But in some states like Rajasthan, UP etc Shravan has started already on 20th July. This is because of the difference in the calendars as some states begin the month on the full moon.
Like every year, we will have special puja on all four Sundays during the month which will be followed by lunch. We extend a warm welcome to all devotees to join us on all four Sundays to Kamleshwar Mahadev temple in Kibigori.
Kenya Vegetarian Club officially inaugurated the reforestation program in Kisumu county with the donation of Muringa seeds. The program was initiated in Ketito village with the local farmers who have ready to plough lands. The group of farmers representing various small villages around came forward to commit their lands for the reforestation program. Each farmer has committed atleast an acre of land for reforestation.
I am thankful to the the villagers who have responded to our appeal of the program and initiated the seed planting.
Our intention of donation of Muringa seeds as they can be directly planted into the farm and has many medicinal properties.
We are planning to plant more than fifty thousand trees in Kisumu region. We have identified locations for thirtee thousand trees but still looking for more places. If any of my readers know any farmers or people who would be interested in th program please feel free to call us.
Do you think of the farmer who sowed the seeds, tilled the land, irrigated and kept watch till the golden crop got ready to be transported on a journey before it reached your kitchen changing many hands in the process? When was the last time you ever spoke to a farmer who prepared the food that eventually landed on your plate? We hardly think of these seemingly insignificant things as we are lost in the daily chores of our life.
Every little thing that ends on our plate has a story to tell. If we try to understand what went into the making of each ingredient, the farmer’s sweat, the middleman’s shrewdness, the shopkeeper’s struggle etc- then we can understand many things. I feel we need to look at food from its source and this is what we are aiming to do? But why you may ask. Because there is a lot of economics there. Our farmers need to do a lot more research on what vegetables can be grown in our region, what crops can be supported by the soil we find here, what are the vegetables that people in the region want to consume, can we introduce some exotic vegetables and fruits in our local farms, will there be a market for these, can we eliminate the middleman and connect the buyer with the seller directly? A whole lot of questions. But this kind of food connect should be mapped so that we can maximize gains for both the seller as well as the buyer. We at Kenya Vegetarian Club aim to make this food connect, bring the farmer in close connect with the buyer. This way we will know the journey of each and every thing that lands up on our plate and also what to eat in which season thereby improving our health and general well-being.
Farmers love to produce what sells fast. If the sellers come directly with their produce, the buyers are most benefited, in terms of money, quality, freshness and feedback which can be given directly so that we get improved services. Also getting involved with the farmers helps us to put a face on the nameless, faceless warriors of the earth who work day and night to prepare the fields to give us our daily meal.
When I set out to know these things, I found that many vegetables come into Kisumu because our county farmers alone cannot meet the demand. We have huge tracts of land and we have poor farmers. They do not have the knowledge or means to do research on these things. This is one important area of work for us at Kenya Vegetarian Club. We study and research on these and tell the farmers what vegetables they should grow, donate seeds so that women can become more empowered and our region is fully self-sufficient and our farmers finally will have enough food to eat.
Shrivedant Foundation celebrated third patotsav of Kamleshwar Mahadev Temple in Kibigori today. Kamal Shah and Vaishali Shah invited devotees from Kisumu, Kericho, Kakamega and other nearby towns.The priest Pradipbhai of Sanatan Temple performed the maha rudra yagna and changed the dhwaja.
The devotees from Iskon temple of Kisumu sang bhajan during the celebration.
It was such a wonderful and enchanting experience to be there wherever Modiji was there during his trip to Kenya.
He was meticulous about every word he spoke, he ensured that the audience at Kasarani ground in Nairobi get every bit of him the way they wanted. He stole the heart of Kenyans by giving many goodies like Cancer hospital, security, shared the concept of Make in India to Make in Kenya and many more. He refreshed the ties between Kenya and India.
I was also flattered to know that he remembered my website and complimented and signed my both the books – Hindu Culture and Lifestyle Studies and The Veg Africa as this was my second personal meeting with him. Though have shared few words with him on many other occassions.
It is another feather in my cap for getting the compliments for my work and extremely encouraged to take it to the next level.