Text by Ankita Jain
What began in a two-room apartment to facilitate free homeopathy medicines, the Marwari Sewa Samiti is now a non-profit organisation with a strong history of 66 years of humanitarian work. “The organisation was initiated by nine Marwari businessmen, the father of Binod Chaudhary being one, in a rented space in Indra Chowk. It started with serving the city with free homeopathy medicines in 1953,” recalls Binod Kumar Sethia, General Secretary of the Marwari Sewa Samiti. After some years, the organisation shifted to Ranjana Galli, New Road. “The founding members collected funds from the Marwari community and built this building brick by brick,” says Sethia.
To be self-sustained, the organisation built guestrooms for lodging. Today, it has a total of 81 rooms (ac and non-ac) and charges between Rs 1100 -1700 per room. “The guest house serves as a major source of income which we channelise for our different initiatives,” informs Arun Kumar Dokaniya, Secretary of the organisation. Besides, MSS also has 13 shutters on rental and a restaurant inside the premises. The money generated from these commercial aspects also add to the fund. “Though we have leased out the restaurant, the board members monitor the quality of food and price. The organisation has invested Rs 30-35 lakhs on kitchen amenities alone,” informs Sethia.
Currently, the Marwari Sewa Samiti runs various initiatives which include a homeopathy hospital, physiotherapy centre, bottled drinking water supply, ambulance, hearse, blood donation camps, cow shelter, basic requirement supply to the prisoners, scholarships and more. “All our services are free of cost. We never charge a penny to anyone,” says Prem Kumar Agrawal, Secretary of MSS.
The homeopathy hospital has a team of 14 people and witnesses a footfall of 150 patients a day on average. The recent 10-bed physiotherapy centre was envisioned by Shrawan Kumar Agrawal, President of MSS. “We established the centre two years back and around 35-40 people benefit from this service daily,” shares Prem Agrawal. While the hospital works in two shifts: 7-9 am and 2-6 pm, the physiotherapy centre operates from 9 am-5 pm.
Marwari Sewa Samiti mainly serves the health sector and runs two ambulances with the initiative limited within the valley. Besides, they also own a hearse, a vehicle used for carrying the corpse to the cremation area. “We also perform cremation rituals of unclaimed dead bodies in the capital,” Dokaniya elaborates.
Twice a week, MSS organises blood donation camps in Bhugol Park, New Road. “We have set a record for collecting 5000 units so far,” states Dokaniya.
Acknowledging prisoner rights, the organisation donates bedding and medicines at the central jail. “We receive a list of requirements from the jail every four months. The list comprises of mattresses, pillows, blankets, etc. We also supply medicines to the prisoners every month,” explains Prem.
In the education sector, MSS provides scholarships to students from Nursery to Class 10. This year they have provided scholarship to 67 students worth Rs 35-40 lakhs. MSS also provides bottled drinking water to events supporting social causes. Building a happy space for cows, the organisation has built a shelter in Dharke on the outskirts of Kathmandu. “We have bought 60 ropanis of land in Dharke and use the land as a cow shelter,” states Dokaniya. MSS is now building a Krishna temple around the shelter.
The membership of the organisation is limited to the Marwari community and costs Rs 5,100 per head for a lifetime membership. “We only welcome people who genuinely want to serve the society,” confirms Sethia.
“Marwari Sewa Samiti generates Rs 1.5 crores from the guest house, shutters and restaurant annually.”
Shrawan Kumar Agrawal is the President of Marwari Sewa Samiti. Shrawan was elected in 2010 for three years and reelected for the position in 2016. It is under his leadership that projects like the cow shelter and physiotherapy centre have been launched. The organisation owns a Dharma Shala in Gaushala which provides artificial limbs to the needy. “These limbs are made using the latest technology and have a five-year guarantee,” he states.
Informing about the total fund received from the organisation’s guest house, shutters and restaurant, he says, “We generate Rs 1.5 crores from these rentals annually and if we lack a certain amount for any of the initiatives, we receive a donation from within our community.”
MSS is open for donation from anyone, Agrawal clarifies, “Though we accept a donation from anyone, 99% of the funds are received from our community”.
The organisation is currently building a dialysis centre with 30 machines in Gaushala Dharamshala. They have collaborated with the National Kidney Center for project supervision. According to NKC, the cost per patient will be Rs 3,000 out of which the government subsidises Rs 2,500 and the rest will be taken care of by the organisation. Further, MSS is spending Rs five crores only on the machines. “The entire project has been funded by several individuals of the Marwari community,” he shares. The dialysis centre will start operating within the next five months. He makes it clear that although the entire executive board members of MSS are businessmen, the activities run by the organisation cannot be counted as Corporate Social Responsibility. “No member can associate the work performed here as a part of their CSR,” he asserts.