IN EL SALVADOR
1985, the Sathya Sai Organization started visiting a group
of invalids, (wheelchair people) who lived in a dilapidated
house on the outskirts of town. The visits were infrequent
in the beginning, and the devotees took mostly food items
for distribution. The house was very inadequate for their
needs since it had two floors and they had to leave their
wheelchairs downstairs and pull themselves up the stairs to
the bedrooms. About 1990, the Sai Organization found a one
floor dwelling in the center of town where everything was
close by. The house was very old, but it was much bigger than
the one where they were living. The Sai devotees rented this
place for the handicapped and the group increased to 20 at
the new location. In 1995, the lady who rented this house
decided to sell it, and one of the devotees was able to buy
it and donate the same to the Sathya Sai Foundation.
It had become apparent after so many years of association
with the handicapped that their biggest problem was to live,
and work or study in the same place, as the wheelchairs are
not adequate for moving long distances, or in traffic. The
Sathya Sai Foundation decided to build a residence and workplace
for them by tearing down the old house and making a new one
with three floors. On the ground level were several workshops
including sewing, computer center, watch repair, electric
appliance repair, bakery, shoe repair, and wheel chair repairs
and a kitchen and dining area. On the first floor were 11
dormitories and a social area. The third floor is a Sathya
Sai Center. The building has an elevator and a large cistern
for water storage. By Swami’s Grace, this new building
was inaugurated November 23, 1997. About 20 handicapped are
able to live there without paying any rent. They only pay
for their food with the money they can make in the workshops,
and from pensions which some of them have.
Sathya Sai Organization has not made any efforts to convert
the handicapped residents into followers of Sai Baba, but
some of them have become interested in His teachings and voluntarily
attend the Sai Center. One fellow, who had fallen from a tree
nine years back had two long pins supporting either side of
his spinal column. He could hardly walk with crutches, and
used a wheel chair most of the time. The pins had become infected
and pus was coming from an opening made by doctors. He had
become interested in Swami and was reading some Sai books,
including Howard Murphet’s “Man of Miracles”.
A medical ship had docked at El Salvador, and specialists
from USA were doing free operations on board. A devotee took
this fellow to the boat, and one of the doctors, after analyzing
his x-rays decided to take out the pins and treat the infection.
When the patient was returned to home
after the operation, he was unable to move. He was sleeping
on the floor on a mattress for about two weeks. Then one night,
Swami appeared in his room, sitting on the floor besides his
mattress and asked him in Spanish, “How do you feel?”.
The fellow could hardly believe that Swami was there in person.
He told Swami that he was completely paralyzed and the operation
had been for the worse. Swami told him, “You can now
walk, get up”. Swami disappeared. The fellow got up
without crutches and walked to the phone. It was 2:OOAM, but
he called the devotee who had taken him to the hospital boat
and cried over the phone, “I can walk ! Swami has come
and healed me!” He was later able to reunite with his
wife and assume a normal life. His character also changed
for the better.
This labor of love has continued to this day by the Sai Organization.
The youth group recently shared a Christmas dinner prepared
by them for the handicapped members of this home.