Sosva: Ngo For NGos
Hitisha Jain 08 July 2014

An organisation in Mumbai that  provides services and volunteers to other NGOs,

In 1984, a group of visionaries, led by V Srinivasan (IAS, retired), felt the need to build a strong voluntary sector that would work to help the poor and underprivileged to participate effectively in social development. They thought this would be best done by facilitating voluntary initiatives by NGOs and people.

It took formal shape as the Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies (SOSVA) which is now headed by Dr Vasant Talwalkar as its president. To meet its objectives, Sosva has undertaken multifarious initiatives, such as promoting volunteering, training and development, as well as supporting projects like safe drinking water, providing livelihoods and teaching English, etc.

Volunteerism Action (Volact) was started in 1995 by registering volunteers from all walks of life to match their skills and interests and placing them with voluntary agencies that need such support. Since inception, it has placed 5,990 volunteers with 215 NGOs; as many as 1,393 volunteers were placed with 52 NGOs only in the last financial year. “SOSVA is the first Indian NGO to promote systematic volunteering through this programme,” says Radha Vedantam, chief executive of SOSVA.

The volunteers offer their services across a wide range of activities such as teaching swimming to special children, conducting workshops on puppet-making, teaching conversational English to orphan children, teaching yoga, arts and crafts, etc.

SOSVA’s Training and Promotion Institute (STAPI) is now a full-fledged institution for capacity building, training and imparting skills to NGOs across a wide range of health and development activities. While STAPI started out as a part of Sosva, it has now been hived off into an independent entity.

Like most NGOs doing ground-breaking work, Sosva’s biggest challenge is to raise resources for its efforts. “We are in the grip of a vicious circle of lack of funds and staff. We need to break free from this to move the institution to a different trajectory of growth and self–sufficiency,” says Ms Vedandam. She explains that SOSVA’s presence is limited only to Mumbai because of lack of funds.  

SOSVA runs a project called MEDIGIFT to provide free medical supplies to hospitals that need such support.

Ms Vedantam says, “Under an Indo-US bilateral agreement, SOSVA receives medical supplies from US donor agencies and distributes these to charitable and needy hospitals in India. Until now, 17 shipments of supplies, valued at Rs27 crore, have been distributed to 38 hospitals.”

SOSVA has been the nodal agency for Family Health International’s programme funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for minimising the risk of AIDS/HIV in Mumbai and Thane districts, through a network of seven partner NGOs.

It is also involved in of volunteer-run activities, such as the Safe Water-Save Water project, to build awareness about water crisis among children in 27 schools. Sosva has initiated a project to enhance reading skills of 8th and 9th standard students in English- and Urdu-medium schools at Dharavi (a Mumbai slum). This too is run by volunteers since March 2012 and is set for extension to two more centres. The spoken English programme for 5th standard students at three different centres.

SOSVA has started a solar light project to install these lamps and bring sunlight into houses in slum communities which are completely dark during the day. These include the Raoli Camp, Cheetah Camp and Aarey Colony. In association with ISS Integrated Facilities Services, Sosva has started a project for livelihood generation. It finds jobs in house-keeping and security services to underprivileged youth.

You can support Sosva’s activities through donations or by registering to volunteer.
Sosva has 80G tax exemption (donation by cash or cheque/DD). You can also donate in kind (books, clothes, and toys for children, computer accessories, electronics and food, etc.)

Room No. 5, 6 & 7, 1st Floor,
Bhimabai Rane Municipal School,
R Roy Marg, Opposite Central
Plaza Cinema, Girgaon,
Mumbai 400 004,
Telephone: +91 022 2291 4630
Email: [email protected]

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