Inba Seva Sangam, ISS, was established by Mother Lea Provo in 1968 under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. After her husband passed away in Belgium, Mother Lea Provo at the instance of a Gandhian disciple Shantidass (Josseph Jean Lanze del Vasto) of France came to India. She visited Gandhian institutions in Tamil Nadu and finally established the two model villages, Sevapur and Vinobajipuram, to serve the rural people in the manner that was suggested by Mahatma Gandhi. Sevapur and Vinobajipuram are located in beautiful, quiet and natural environment and they are places where one can draw inspiration and manifestation of spirituality. Today’s residents of Sevapur och Vinobajipuram have come from different places, belong to different castes and religions but found unity through their common belief in love and service and their will to create a community built on equality and equity. Empowerment of the downtrodden through education and economic development is the main objective of the organization.
(The history of the organization Inba Seva Sangam (ISS) is one of trying to establish human rights, democracy and equality, to people who otherwise were downtrodden, used and marginalized by other groups. The organization was established to target former untouchables, the group of people considered in all aspects at the lowest rung of the Indian society.)
The majority of the families living in Sevapur today share a similar background as serfs to local landlords before the initiation of Inba Seva Sangam. Due to support from ISS these families have become more or less fully independent from the landlords. The families living in Vinobajipuram are mainly Tamil repatriates from Sri Lanka and therefore have a different background but a similar political and economic position. As repartriates and latecomers to the area with no assets, they were given the less fertile land. To increase food security an input, which in many cases they do not have, would be required. Other small farmers in the area have a similar economic situation.
On the 30th of September 1997 Mother Lea Provo passed away in the place she initiated and among the people she loved and rendered tireless service to. What she started is continued in a different form and is at present managed by 13 members of ISS Executive Committee under the leadership of Shri.M Pathamuthu.
ISS has a Board comprising of eminent members of civil society committed to Gandhian principle and way of life. Some of the members are from the community and have benefitted through ISS intervention, excelled in their careers and holding important positions. Staff members mostly hail from the communities within Kadavur block and have benefitted from ISS interventions in different ways. Thus, the institutional bondage within ISS accounts for its success as an organization. Besides the donor community that supported the cause put forward by Mother Lea Provo continues to value the efforts of ISS and provides unstinted support by bringing forward the mandate through changes in the development context with new needs that deserves to be addressed. The mandate of the organization is one that is very people centered and reflects on their sustenance.