Monday, August 20, 2012

Friends Society - 43 years old and continuing to serve the Community.

 The hands that serve are holier than the lips that pray ” -  This is an universal truth.

All sorts of organizations, from all over the world, get involved with Social Service activities – most organizations do social service as a side activity, to create goodwill for the organization, and attract people to their brand of religious and/or political ideology.

Then there are organizations whose religion and ideology – the whole reason for their existence – is a commitment to Social Service – Friends Society is one such organization.

Ask not what your community can do for you - ask what you can do for your community “ 

August,  1969 – M. S. University of Baroda was closed due to communal riots that rocked the state of Gujarat – it was a time of distrust and cynicism, furthered by feelings of hurt and despair – it is said that every cloud has a silver lining – many people and organizations went  out of their way to be of service to their communities – those troubled times also saw the birth of Friends Society – some University students wanted to do something positive and be of help and service to the Society – they wanted to be Friends of the Society.

I still remember vividly the debris strewn roads, vandalized and torched buildings in Ahmedabad, where I had come to live with my parents, just a month before – as a 10 year old I had no comprehension of what was happening – Ahmedabad  was long held as an example of peace and communal harmony, and here it was under a month long Curfew – when there was a break in the Curfew I ventured out from the safety of home on the bank of river Sabarmati – it was shocking to see, the aftermath of the riots – instinctively I knew it was all wrong.

Years later, when I went to Baroda to do my graduation, I heard of Friends Society, and how it came into being, and its commitment to serve the community and provide a platform to University students for Self-Development through Service – I became member.

Friends Society was interesting and it was inspiring to see and interact with some of the founder members like Giridharbhai and Sagunbhai who were still very actively involved with the activities –  guiding and mentoring  new members, planning for new activities and supporting existing activities, coming up with ideas for funding the activities – I was Active Member for many years and then became Life Member.

It has been a long, long, long time since I have been to Friends Society physically, but still it is a part of my life – Regular Emails from Anuj Agrawal  keep me updated about FS and the activities.

Friends Society is an Unique Organisation  - It’s active members are all University Students, who can spare some time but nothing much in the way of money – some of the old members contribute  - Funding the Activities of a Social Service Organisation like Friends Society is always a challenge – A big responsibility lies on the shoulders  of the Trustees to see that enough funds are made available for carrying out the activities and ensuring the survival of the Organisation.

Friends Society is gearing up to organize a two-day  meeting  of Old and New Members. 

The business agenda may include the following:

1.  Vision 2019 (Fifty years of FS)   
2. Functioning of FS
3. Funding of FS- long term perspective
4. Mission "the book on FS"
5. Other issues.

Sagunbhai , Anuj Agrawal and Gauri Aunty invite involvement and suggestions from Past  and Present members.

- Viswanath V

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