JavaScript Menu, DHTML Menu Powered By Milonic
  Volume 4 - Issue 08 AUGUST 2006
 
Search:  
 
 

REPROGRAMMING LIVES… THROUGH HIS LOVE


“We have a small announcement to make. Over the past few days, many of us have saved some money and bought a few blankets. We request you to kindly distribute these blankets to the poor beggars who sit outside Sivam temple. Please consider this as our token of love and our promise to keep up the Seva activities from today,” said Harish, a student of the ‘Free Basic Computer Classes’ course which was recently held in Shivam, Swami’s holy abode in Hyderabad.

He and his friends had actually saved their little pocket money to be able to offer blankets to the needy. And these youngsters, mind you, are not from the section of society which has all its needs met and now aspires only to answer their latest desires, instead these grown-ups are school drop-outs, unemployed and directionless. As you read how the lives of over 60 young people have been transformed so beautifully, thanks to the Sai-inspired youth of Hyderabad (South India), you will know how service done with purity of purpose and sincerity actually always overwhelms you with the rewards.

And service does not mean only medical camps or feeding the poor - there are opportunities to serve everywhere. If only we look around and feel for our fellowmen, there are avenues galore and our offer of help can become more and more innovative too.

 
 

A student sharing his experience
through a presentation

From Career Skills to Character Skills

The Hyderabad Sai Youth wanted to render service that has a long lasting impact upon society - just like Swami’s projects - and the idea that came up was to hold a Free Computer Skills Teachings Course. The reason was the sad plight of thousands of teenagers who face the misery of unemployment every year because of inadequate skills. And unemployment brings in its wake other problems too. Faced with little prospects in their lives many youth become wayward. So the objective of the program was not only to instill self-confidence and make the youngsters self-reliant but also to bring about a sea-change in their outlook and attitude towards life. And did they succeed? The mother of Balaraj, one of the students who underwent the course, told H2H,

“My son used to roam around on the streets with a bunch of friends without purpose and would never study or listen to me. But, during this period, I noticed a change in him; he became more respectful and responsible. He also developed tremendous self confidence.”

 
 
 

The banner inviting all school dropouts to avail the unique opportunity

 

There is nothing more that the organizers can ask for. The corporate world is hungry to recruit talented and skilled youth in order to meet their project demands but people with the right skills and attitude are hard to find. The course made the hitherto ‘left high and dry’ drop-outs more employable not only by equipping them with the required skills but also at the same time ensuring that they also received the requisite inputs in Value education to endow them with a holistic perspective on life.

Conducting the course was not entirely a new experience to the Sai Youth as they had in the recent past conducted similar training workshops for youngsters called “Management Saptaham” [A Week of management], “Success Planning” and “Voices From the Field” [Click here to read this story from our previous issue]. The new 54 days Free Basic Computer Classes Course was yet another step in the same direction, in trying to help and guide the younger generation to a better life qualitatively and quantitatively. This course focused on the world of DTP (desktop publishing) skills.

Previous Workshops Organised By Hyderabad Sai Youth
 
Snapshots from "Success planning" , a free three-day soft-skills workshop organised to
guide youth needing direction in life in October 2005
 
"Voices From the Field" - a Unique IT skills workshop for youngsters in college
conducted on Feb 2006. To read more about this, click here.

So how did the youth go about it? The Sai Organisation set up banners at various places across the city and many Sai volunteers worked night and day for over 2 months to offer the best possible to the participants. When H2H contacted one of the coordinators after the event, recalling the dedicated spirit of the Sai Youth, with a great sense of fulfillment he said,

 
Setting up the lab...transforming Shivam to a Service Centre

“Most of us felt that this was perhaps the most challenging yet satisfying activity we had undertaken in the city. It was a challenge to run a course for 54 days continuously considering that most of the faculty were working in multinational companies. There was one Sai brother who works as a Project Manager in Infosys who drove down from Gachibowli to Sivam (around 30kms) everyday and then from Sivam to his home in Kukatapally (25 kms), all this after grueling client meetings and a 12 hour day at work.”

The youth gave a press release a week before the classes began and approached corporate houses to be a part of this project. And they welcomed it so enthusiastically. One of the corporates, Nokia, provided chairs and tables and another multinational, GE, provided computers to run the classes. To do good all you need to do is to determine to do good. “Be clear,” as Swami says “and the rest will follow.”

 

An air conditioning unit was also fitted to give respite to the students in the peak of summer and a temporary lab was set up on the first floor of the Sivam bhajan hall. Nearly 300 students from various sections of society attended the first session where Basic Computer Hardware knowledge was imparted for the first 2 days with a concluding test.

Keeping in mind the available infrastructure at Sivam, 60 needy students were selected to attend the course. The criteria for selection was that the students should be either 10th or 12th or degree dropouts who could not afford to continue education and they should be desperately in need of a job.

Enthusiastic response to a faculty's question
   

As mentioned earlier, the whole training was conducted not by hired professionals but by Sai Youth volunteers. Sharing his experience on how the course went on for the two month period and what really moved him in those sessions of close encounters with the youngsters, one of the organizers said,


“With the vibrant Sivam premises playing host, the mood was always upbeat and our thoughts very positive. After a month into the classes we asked some of the students what changes they found in themselves after attending the classes, and the response was stirring.

One of the students said that he started speaking politely with others after observing how the faculty (Seva Dal members) treated him and others with utmost love and concern. And another one mentioned that he was so inspired by what he saw us doing that he too wanted to participate actively in the Nation Building agenda, which we took up as an inspiration from Swami.”

 
   
The participating students voluntarily putting chairs back in place and cleaning the room after a day's class

The course was as much a learning experience for the organizers as for the participants, or maybe even more. And every youth who played a part in this novel Sai seva has a story to narrate, each more revealing and riveting than the other.

The class in progress - non-stop tutoring for 54 days: practical classes, values lessons, interactive sessions included.

Valuable Lessons

“Initially when we started the program we were not sure how to inculcate the “Human Values” concept in the curriculum,” says one of the Youth Organisers, “We started the course and never spoke about the Sai Organisation or what it represents. The students were very observant of how we conducted ourselves and the classes in the initial couple of weeks. They couldn’t hold their inquisitiveness for long and one day they requested us to tell them a little about the Organisation.

 

Soon, without any prodding from any one of us, they themselves wanted us to teach something more than the Basic Computer Skills, inline with what we always wanted to share…Human Values. It taught us an important lesson that what we are, speaks louder than what we want to present.” A profound learning experience.

The elders in the Sai Organisation were also extremely happy not only to see the youth taking initiative and doing His work, but also to see the Sivam premises transform itself into a Centre of Service, apart from being a Spiritual Centre for which it was already popular. Hundreds of students who have attended various workshops in the Sivam premises now stand as a witness to this welcome transformation of Sivam.

The A P State Trust Convenor, Sri Ranga Rao addressing the students
   

Love Unifies… Inspires

There were other lessons to be learnt too. It was the power of selfless service and love bridging the gaps in the community and forging all into one common unit. There were students from all faiths participating in the classes. One of the students who follows Islam participated in the Bhajans. It was really inspiring to see the solidarity that participants showed to each other. There were also three deaf and dumb boys who attended the classes daily. Although they could not hear anything and could not ask questions, it was amazing that they turned out to perform as well as anybody else in the class. In fact, the father of one of the deaf boys who attended the course said,

“I never thought that my son would ever pick up computer skills. It is indeed a miracle that he has made a presentation today. I thank the organization from the bottom of my heart.”

To do miracles, all you need is love. Just pure love that is unconditional, selfless and genuine. The Sai Youth showered this love on the participants. No wonder, there was such a wonderful spirit of camaraderie during the course. The participants, coming from a background which had only battered their heart and tortured their body with little or no love, found real joy in life as the organizers left no stone unturned to see to it that they feel ‘one’ with each other as well as with the Sai Youth, as one organizer shares,

 
Giving personal attention to every student...
Celebrating their birthdays...sharing their joys and sorrows

“Apart from the regular classes we also celebrated birthdays by cutting cakes and singing the birthday song. This had become an extended family where the students spent a significant amount of their time in a day. Many students asked us why we were doing all this and what self-interest we had in spending so much time and resources. Our only response was that it was in the spirit of Brotherhood of Mankind.”

This was something very unusual for the participants. It made them think and re-think about life and its purpose.

The Company Secretary of an industrial giant sharing his experiences (left) and
(right) a typical session in progress

During all the 54 days, the Computer Lab started at 8 am and ran till 6 pm everyday. There were theory classes again from 6 pm to 9pm. The faculty were youth from the Sai Organisation who are professionals in different software companies like Infosys, Wipro, Microsoft, GE, Nokia etc. It was inspiring to see two of them actually moving into Sivam for the entire duration of the course to ensure that everything went on as planned without a slightest glitch and the students got the best opportunity to learn. They stayed in Sivam for 54 days and maintained the temporary lab set up in the Bhajan Hall in the first floor of Sivam. There was also formal sessions on family values, respect for parents and elders, the importance of keeping away from vices like smoking, drinking etc. apart from what the students imbibed observing the Sai Youth.

 
Guest of Honour Sri Uday Bhaskar, GM of Indian Oil Corporation (left) curious to know more about Sai Organisation's activities

Certificate of Completion awarded to all the 60 participants during the graduation ceremony on the final day

The 54-day course came to a magnanimous end on June 25, 2006 (Sunday). The students had now gained proficiency in MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Pagemaker and typing. These students, who had not even seen a computer from close quarters 2 months ago were now ready to use these skills.

The Graduation Day – A Glorious Finale

A graduation ceremony was held on the final day. All the students received certificates and the parents and guardians of all the students who attended the course were also invited so that they could share in this joyful occasion. The parents’ joy came more from the change in the attitude of their wards than from their technical skills, as the mother of Nagu, told H2H,

“My son was given to bad habits like eating gutkha (chewing tobacco) and smoking. But, during this period, he gave up these habits and has now got a job because of the course.”

 
Parents of the participants on the Graduation Ceremony day
A student shares his experiences through a powerpoint presentation

During the graduation ceremony the students summarized what they learnt in the near 2 month course and presented it in front of the audience on the Graduation day. The response was truly overwhelming with the students expressing their immense gratitude to Swami, the teachers, and the Organization. Using the skills that they learnt, they chose to make Powerpoint presentations as a medium to present their learning experience and also expressed a strong desire to participate in Nation-Building activities which was like icing on the cake for the Organisers.

The students spoke so confidently on the stage that one of the guests of the function asked if they had been taught public speaking skills! They made professional presentations which stood as testimonies of all they had learnt on the course and which would have been impossible but for Bhagawan’s Grace. The Organisers were in fact delighted to say the least as one of them expressed,

“We enjoyed conducting the course. It was extremely satisfying to see so many happy parents on the graduation day. What was even more satisfying was that they ended up getting jobs with good salaries. This will ensure that their families will not have to struggle anymore. We would love to participate in such life-building activities in the future. It was also a learning experience for us to see how goodness actually inspires goodness. It spurs us on to do more such activities in the city.”

 
A student sharing his thoughts on the final day
They came together to do a beautiful presentation for the last day

Plaudits from the Participants

The students were deeply touched by the immense value addition that had taken place in their lives over the last few days. For them the valuable lessons of life were more important than computer skills.

“What I have learnt over the past few days here,” said a transformed Ravi Kiran, “is that one should serve and help others for having taken birth as a human being. I learnt this after seeing our elder brothers (organization youth) working so hard to make our lives better.”

Another fortunate student, K Ramu, commented,

“When I joined this course in Sivam, I thought that we will be told about Sai Baba and will be influenced to become devotees. But I was surprised that not once was anything mentioned about Sai Baba. At the end of the course, I felt that I understand Sai Baba better by seeing the dedication and commitment of all these youth who are working selflessly”

Sai Youth of Hyderabad serving on the graduation day
A memorable lunch together on the final day

"Hello Sir, my name is Madhava Aravind. Yesterday’s (25-06-06) graduation ceremony function was a memorable day in my life. The 50 day course was very important to me and very interesting to learn. We also learnt how to be good citizens.” These were the kind of noble sentiments that every student participant echoed on the final day.

Impressing the Corporate World

One of the course objectives was to make the students more employable. This came to fruition when 6 students received job offers with a pay-pack of approximately Rs.90,000 per year! The HR representative of the First India Corporation (a wholly owned subsidiary of First American Corporation) which hired the students was one of the guests for the ceremony.

He said that they had interviewed nearly 1000 students for the job opportunities and selected only 35 people after the first round. 13 students from this course attended the interview and all of them were among those 35 short listed. And why? “Because” he said, “All of these 13 students where different from the rest.

They exhibited tremendous self-confidence and sense of purpose. One of the critical questions is to find out what the goal of the student is. Normally when many others said we have not thought about it as yet - these students said that their goal apart from living well is to be useful to society in some way.

 
"All these students are different from the rest" - the HR representative of First India Corporation

The HR representative was so impressed that he intends to hire the remaining students also from the graduating class, the Sai Youth told H2H.

The course, as you would have gauged, achieved all its objectives and more. What can be achieved when there is purity of purpose and pure love is really amazing! Swami is the living example of this, demonstrating it to us every day and every moment. Here we have the Sai Youth of Hyderabad who have tried to live His example in their own small, yet significant way. It is really inspiring and we at H2H thank the Hyderabad Sai Youth for sharing with us this story and pray that this noble endeavour from them reaches newer and nobler heights each year, spreading the joy of His love and His message to the community and the nation at large.

Readers will be happy to note that there are such service activities being undertaken by Sai Youth of every state of India and to share their experiences, the Sai Youth of India has launched a website christened as www.saiyuvak.org. Do visit this site to know more about Sai service being done in all parts of India by energetic Sai Youth.

Jai Sai Ram.

– Heart2Heart Team


 
     
You can write to us at : [email protected]          
Vol 4 Issue 08 - AUGUST 2006
Best viewed in Internet Explorer - 1024 x 768 resolution.
DHTML Menu by Milonic.