Mahatma Gandhi said: “We must become the change we want to see in the world.” The Indian Student Association [ISA] is taking the message to heart.
ISA has been working with the Miami Non-Violence Project to prepare for National Gandhi Day of Service this Saturday.
“We wish to be that change in an all out effort to help the children, the elderly, the environment and the hungry,” said Vivek Patel, public relations officer of ISA.
National Gandhi Day is a nationwide volunteer effort that honors the philosophy of the Indian humanitarian. It is in its fourth year and commemorates the anniversary of Gandhi’s birth.
Patel said about 50 students from the University are expected to participate. Students involved will be meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday at the Rock for the keynote speaker.
A letter from Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, will also be read.
“He found out about what we were doing and wrote us a letter congratulating and praising us for our efforts,” Patel said. “It really makes this National Gandhi Day unique for us.”
This is the first year that the University of Miami is participating in Gandhi Day.
“Before, no one from Florida really participated,” Patel said. “This year, we decided that we wanted to get involved, so we contacted other Indian Student Associations across the country.”
On Oct. 1, Diane Landsberg of the Miami Non-Violence Project, ISA President Roshan Shah and Patel attended the South Miami City Council meeting.
They spoke about the importance of the Gandhi Day of Service and received the proclamation from the mayor and vice mayor to have Oct. 5 as Mahatma Gandhi Day of Service, Patel said.
Participants will carpool to various sites in Miami and South Miami where they will lend a helping hand for several hours. Volunteers will be helping out at Children’s Home Society, a peace garden at a police station, Range Park and New Riviera Home, a rest home.
“I’m hoping that National Gandhi Day of Service inspires and motivates people to go out in their local communities and serve a greater cause: humanity,” sophomore Bella Patel said.
Denise Rodriguez, activities director at New Riviera, said she is appreciative of volunteer efforts and thankful for the group’s efforts. She said that volunteers will be sitting with residents and talking to them.
“We’re a pretty small facility, so I like to let groups come and spend time with [the residents],” Rodriguez said. “It’s important for them to have one-on-one time with other people.”
A representative for Children’s Home Society said that she didn’t have any specifics yet on what volunteers would be doing but said that their work would be appreciated.
Students will also be participating in a beautification effort in a South Miami neighborhood.
“They’ll be planting trees, painting walls, doing whatever needs to be done to make things look better in the area,” Patel said.
UM has teamed up with FIU and the Miami Nonviolence Project in a joint effort that will bring about 150 volunteers into the Miami community.
“This is a chance for students to provide service to the community,” said Aruna Airan, advisor to ISA.
For more information on ISA visit their website at www.um-isa.com, or for more information on National Gandhi Day visit www.gandhiday.org.