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  Volume 4 - Issue 06 JUNE 2006
 
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CREATING NEW LIVES....THROUGH SERVICE

THE SRI SATHYA SAI VOCATIONAL CENTRE FOR WOMEN IN CHENNAI

When we come across someone who needs our help it warms our heart to do so. Normally such help is of a temporary nature. But imagine if the help rendered would give the receiver skills which would change their lives for the better for ever, help that will last their entire lifetime. Now that is divinely inspired help. The seva carried out at the Sri Sathya Sai Vocational Centre for Women in Chennai is such an example.

If I would have not reached this centre I would have lost a golden opportunity. I feel very confident, which I was terribly lacking in before. All the members here are so affectionate to me that I forget about my house after coming here.

The Philosophy Of The Vocational Centre

This is what an old student, Ms. Bhuvaneswari, movingly conveys while talking about the centre. Opened in March, 2001, in the Chennai Metro, west district, this unique Vocational Training Centre’s aims have been to lift ladies out of economic hardship, to make them money earners, to give them vocational job skills and to grant them the gift of self confidence along the way. The project has been receiving exclusive and continuous help from the Sai Organisation and the Tamil Nadu state president, N Ramani, explaining to H2H a little about the philosophy saying,

The value based training they receive not only makes them better mothers and good housewives but also better citizens. The centre is a great boon given by our Lord to the mahilas (ladies) to serve economically weaker women and to guide them to lead a happy, healthy, economically and morally clean and comfortable life.

"They Treated Me as Their Daughter" - Subeena

 

It is indeed a divinely inspired temple of learning, offering life saving assistance as we learn from Ms. Subeena, another happy alumni, who says,

“My family has 7 members, and father is reluctant to go for any job. My sisters and brothers are all younger than me. After completing my higher secondary I was in a confused state and didn’t know what to do. At that time somebody informed me about the Vocational centre run by the Sathya Sai Seva Organization for the economically weaker sections.

I immediately joined in their secretarial course. I was very happy to be a student there. The teaching staff and all the other members treated me as their daughter. They were very kind to me and taught me lots of moral values about our life.”

All the students have their lives transformed for the better by a multitude of vocational training courses, and everything here is imparted at absolutely no cost. So far, 80 ladies have received instruction giving them self-reliance and vital help out of poverty. One old student of the centre tells H2H, “I feel very useful now. The amount of self confidence I got after coming here is beyond description.”

A Variety Of Vocational Courses

So what exactly are the courses that are imparted in this centre? The most popular course at the centre is tailoring. The students stitched over 6,000 tricolour bags which were distributed, on Swami’s instruction, to the Bal Vikas students on His 80th birthday at Prashanti Nilayam. The students also stitched more than 2000 jublas (shirts) which were given out by the various samithies on Easwaramma day.

The ladies are paid to do this work and also receive regular orders from Sai devotees to stitch clothes. The students take examinations, and if they successfully pass, acquire a certificate. Thus, when they leave they are able to find enough work to receive a good wage. To further assist them, the centre has donated sewing machines to 35 ladies so that they can get started in their tailoring work. Bhuvaneswari, an old student of the tailoring course, tells us how the centre has transformed her life,

 
   
Teaching tailoring....

I am living in a house constructed by the slum clearance board. My father is a watchman. I tried to study hard but I was not successful in completing my 10th. Somebody informed me about this centre and I joined the tailoring section, successfully completing my tailoring course. The centre presented me with a tailoring machine and with the help of this machine I am able to stitch garments for my neighbours on payment. I feel very useful now.

 
Learning the skills for secretarial practice...

The second most popular course is secretarial training. This covers typewriting, accountancy, spoken English MS office automation in computer science and the PABX telecom telephone operation course. There are 10 typewriters and 2 state-of-the-art computers in the service of the centre’s students. The shorthand classes in English use Swami’s quotations and teachings and follow Swami’s Educare principles. Around 20 students have undergone the training and have passed out successfully according to the DOTE exam standard. All students passed out 1st class in typing and in MS Automation and by Swami’s Grace every one of the centre’s students are now placed in good jobs, such as Ms. Subeena,

I completed the secretarial course successfully with the grace of Bhagawan. Today I am working in the ICICI bank; this job was also due to the recommendation of a member of the organization. At present I am doing well. I am the only breadwinner in my family. Whatever changes which have taken place in my life are due to the blessings of Bhagawan, and the hard selfless efforts of the teaching staff of the centre. This is a great experience in my life and it is a boon for my family.

 
MS Office and Typing skills training...

Ms. Vasumathi is part of the same success story.

I am a daughter of a vegetable vendor living in a small hut in T. Nagar area. After completing my plus II examination I was blank about my future. At that time I came to know about the centre and I joined in the secretarial course. After coming here I was surprised to find that this institute teaches everything free of cost and the people around here are so kind and understanding. I felt at home. I informed my parents about this and they were also very happy. I came to know about the teachings of Bhagawan, and the amount of mercy He has for less privileged people. My self confidence developed. I completed the course successfully and at present I am working as an accounts clerk to an auditor receiving a good salary. I will never forget this experience in my life. I am ever indebted to Bhagawan for giving me this opportunity.

Candle making is another course on offer. Eight varieties of colourful candles are made with different moulds. The students who have undergone this training are making candles at home and selling them to nearby shops and neighbours. Ms. Bhuvaneswari tells H2H,

I learnt candle making for which they presented me with the candle preparing mould, and with the help of this I am able to supply candles for the shops. This has added to my earnings.

The students also make agarbathi (incense) sticks. The total output is 800 boxes per month. This is all done by the seva dals and active workers and the finished product is exclusively supplied to Sundaram Sai Centre, Chennai.

 
   
Candle making training...

The yoga and beauty course is very popular among the students. The duration of this course is for six months and there are presently six students proficient in yoga who can demonstrate the asanas to the new pupils.

 
The Yoga and Beauty course

The screen printing course teaches the students the art of creating beautiful colourful letterheads, envelopes, visiting cards, hand outs etc. The equipment and training has been imparted by experts in the subject.

 
The screen printing course - learning to create designs...

Some of the ladies take instruction in printing. With the addition of the “Baby offset” multicolour printer the production work has increased manifold. Sundaram Sai Centre has requested thousands of booklets and the ladies are very happy to be part of the work disseminating Swami’s teachings. They also print cardboard boxes for packing the agarbathis.

 
Cutting and Binding (left) and offset printing

Practical Skills Coupled With Spiritual Activities

Of course, as well as the practical skills that are imparted, the centre also holds regular Bhajan singing, Veda chanting classes and spiritual instruction. In fact, it is a wonderful conduit for the Sai Mahila Seva Dals to be instruments in Swami’s hands and to pass on His love and wisdom.

Every day the centre’s activities start with Bhajans and end with Mangalaharathi. A facet of Swami’s teachings is explained to the students, who are very enthusiastic and wish to learn something new every day!

The aim of the class is to instill Swami’s principles to the students so that they can be good citizens and compassionate human beings.

Every Thursday they attend a study circle where, among other topics, they learn Suprabhatham, and Ashtothram.

 
   
A Study circle class in progress..

The Bhajan mandali has 25 participants. Bhajans are conducted every Tuesday from 11 to 12. Ms. Subeena, an old student, says that

I used to attend the Bhajans and Spiritual lectures held at the centre and came to know about Swami. This was a sea change for me from the distressful atmosphere which I was experiencing at home.

 
Bhajans and Spiritual instructions....

The ladies also help in cleaning Sundaram Sai Centre and participate in Gramaseva. They attend weekly Veda classes and are able to chant the sacred Sanskrit verses to a very good standard. One participant, Ms. Bhuvaneswari, comments:

Above all this, I am able to sing Bhajans, and I have witnessed in my life the mercy Bhagawan has shown on people like us.

These Students Also Serve...

Eight students rendered service in Parthi during the October period. The mandali also runs a Bal Vikas class which 15 boys and girls attend.

It is heart warming to see the mothers who are students at the centre bringing their children to the class every Saturday, confident that at least here their little ones will learn meaningful subjects in a loving atmosphere.

 
   
The lucky Bal Vikas students....

Mrs. Savitha, a former student who now has a tailoring shop of her own, tells H2H with so much satisfaction and joy how her life has now changed beyond all recognition.

I am married and my husband who was stitching posters and doing some odd jobs was not satisfied with the income. So I wanted to help him. At this juncture I was informed about this centre. I learnt Tailoring, completed the course and they presented me with a tailoring machine.

For some days I was taking orders from the neighbours and slowly my confidence developed. Now at present with the blessings of Bhagawan I have opened a tailor shop named Sai’s Needle Art, at Nungumbakkam. The thing which cannot be believed has taken place in my life.

Thanks a lot to this centre which I treat this as my mother’s house. I can never forget this experience in my life.

 
   
Savitha in front of her tailoring shop "Sai's Needle Art"

Thus, the centre, inspired by Sai, stands as a grand beacon of hope to ladies suffering from poverty and hardship. It lifts them from their disadvantaged state and helps them attain a foothold where they can gain self respect and self confidence. And once they acquire confidence, opportunities beckon and they shine resplendently reflecting His love, His Grace and Compassion. How fulfilling a journey it is both for the served and the one who serves!

The address of the Sri Sathya Sai Vocational Centre for Women is:
No. 1, Paul Appasamy Street , T Nagar, Chennai 17,
Ph: Chennai 8257705.

Dear Reader, did this story inspire you? Would you like more of such stories? Do you know of any inspiring service activity going on in any part of the world? Please write to us your comments and suggestions at [email protected] Please mention your name and country when you write to us. Thank you for your time.

– Heart2Heart Team


 
     
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Vol 4 Issue 06 - JUNE 2006
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