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GLIMPSES OF STIRRING SEVA IN EUROPE

 

Earlier this year we had offered you stories of Sai Seva being done in countries like Russia, New Zealand and from three places in India. In this issue, we present you accounts of inspiring service carried out all across the European continent from Zone 6 regions 61 and 62. These have been taken from a book ‘Sai Challenge’ given to us lovingly by Sai devotees of these regions. In all we feature glimpses of worthy work from eight countries and we hope to follow these up in later issues with more such accounts and in greater detail. We start with Bosnia And Herzegovina.

 Medical Camp in Bosnia And Herzegovina

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In the town of Samac, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 27 Sai devotees conducted a medical camp, supported by 67 Doctors, social workers, the Women's Association, the Red Cross and local volunteers. Medicines were donated by Sai members from all over Europe, and the Bosnian firms Euroliljek and Brcko helped with other supplies.

The local school director, aware of the work carried out by the Sathya Sai Organization, offered his school premises to hold the camp in. As a result, the Sai organisation held its biggest ever camp, serving 295 patients from the town and the surrounding villages, comprising of 86 men, 167 women and 42 children.

During the camp, a brother and a sister from Germany looked after 24 children during a "painting" workshop, thereby giving them an opportunity to heal their war traumas, and enabling their parents to be free to see the doctors.

The whole place was crowded with doctors and patients. The ophthalmologist alone conducted over 100 examinations. The school headmaster was present for the whole day, assisted by some associates, and at the end of the day they helped to clean up, while Sai members re-ordered the classrooms.

 
Registration for doctor`s examination
 
A Veterinary inspection

Following the medical camp, devotees also distributed some clothes and food supplies. All the people openly showed their happiness and gratitude and the Seva attracted the press agency Srna, as well as a local TV reporter, and both these institutions interviewed the representative of the Sathya Sai Organisation of Bosnia And Herzegovina.

The camp also served the needs of some animals after some country folk from a nearby village brought over some animals to be examined by the vet.

Making Greece Great - 1

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During a regular Saturday food distribution at St George's court, devotees met an Albanian gypsy, mother of 5 children aged between 1 and 15 years old. She worked all day selling clothes in an outdoor market, whereas the alcoholic father is unemployed. They decided to help them and 4 Sai members as well as 4 non-members took on this task.

After visiting the family they took one of the daughters, 4 year-old Diane, to see a children's theatre show. They quickly realised that the child was very sick, suffering from head lice, malnutrition and poor physical hygiene. As she was kept at home all day she also had poor social skills. After taking her back home, the team became extremely concerned as they discovered two other two children were also very sick.

The following day they took the three children to a local Public hospital. One child was diagnosed suffering from acute pneumonia and the other had a 'bronchial cough' which could turn into asthma if untreated. Doctors fully examined the kids and offered all the required medicine, including antibiotics, inhalers, and food, free of charge. They also promised to bring clothes, toys and whatever else they might need.

The Sai team then took the children to have a bath, cut their hair and apply lice medication. Properly fed and with a clean blanket for each one of them, they took them back home, where they collected all their clothes for washing. The following day one child, Diane developed a high fever, and they lovingly took her home and looked after her all night.

Hair trimmning
Hair care

On subsequent visits the devotees instructed the older sister how to take care of the younger children. Since the children wished to be baptized and to attend school, they discussed these issues with the mother who agreed and accepted these proposals.

The team also took the children on their first ever visit to a playground which they really enjoyed. When they took them to the church to meet the priest who was to baptize them, he was so touched by their story that he made arrangements to provide them food on a daily basis. Also, a second hand washing machine, refrigerator and stove have been delivered to the family.

The devotees felt they discovered that by acting sincerely to alleviate human problems all doors open up and help comes from many places.

Making Greece Great - 2

The local Sai group decided to clean an area of some acres from the litter that visitors carelessly leave behind in Parnitha forest. Mount Parnitha, one of the most beautiful mountains in Greece, now part of a national park that surrounds Athens, is a unique natural retreat for the inhabitants of the capital.

The devotees contacted the chief officer of the local council who accepted their offer of help and agreed to give them such assistance as was available regarding the cleaning of the area. The first day an inspection team visited the mountain and selected the prime areas where the visitors were found to be leaving litter.

 
   
Loading trash

On a second visit, the same team worked out where the collections would be undertaken. A careful plan was formulated as to how the members would be positioned at the starting point and where they would move onto in order to achieve the best results.

 

On the third visit, the actual collection took place. 14 participating Sai members from a few Centres with three friends who were non-members took part, using dozens of huge litter bags, and wearing work gloves.

After filling many bags with litter, they carried them to a specific point on the trail for collection. The items gathered included sleeping bags, plastic and glass bottles, tins, broken toys and pieces of furniture, paper, tires and numerous other items. At a specified time a municipality truck arrived and the bags were loaded for disposal.

They also gave ecology lessons to some families that were picnicking in the area asking them to take their litter away in their cars and dispose of it correctly. They pointed out that even though litter had been left in sealed bags, stray dogs would easily tear the packages open, and strew the litter all around the place.

Garbage collection
   

The team felt great fulfillment and satisfaction with the team spirit and cooperation that united all of them during the service. Their work also attracted an article in the local paper "Acharness" as an example for imitation.

 Helping a Slovenian Family

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The Ljubljana Sai Centre had been arranging joint service with the Novo Mesto Centre and the Velenje group for quite some time. So when the Slovenian Youth Friends' Association and the Social Services informed them about a family in need of help they wanted to answer the call.

The family has five members: Father, 54 years, who is retired due to being a disabled person: Mother, 38 years, is registered as unemployed and can hardly find a job as she has two small children who are ill. The boy is five and is short-sighted, having 7.5 diopters in one eye. The girl is two and a half and suffers from bronchitis. The family depends on social assistance and spends the majority of their income to pay the rent for one half of an old house where they live and they have very little money left for food and fuel. The family receives clothes from the Humanitarian Organization and the Red Cross.

The devotees visited the family to find out their most urgent needs discovering that their most essential requisite was heating for the winter, when temperatures can drop below freezing. They also asked for food, used clothes and a bicycle for the small girl.

After few service meetings at the Centres where members were advised about the family and their needs they were able to collect food, clothes, books, toys and bicycles for both children. Then two donors offered to provide the firewood and others to transport it to the family's house.

Firewood being shifted into a stack
Members carring some of the supplies

34 members from the Sai Centre and nearby Sai groups joined in the service. The house grounds needed a good cleaning, so they started by collecting all the litter and garbage that was spread around in plastic bags. When the area was tidied up, some members started to prepare the food, and others distributed all the goods collected for them.

A big pile of firewood - about 8 cubic meters - that was unloaded earlier that morning, had to be stored in its proper place. More than 10 Sai members made a chain and passed the wood from the pile as far as the wood shed, while others carried firewood to a place under the eaves of the house using wheelbarrows. All the wood was moved and stored after two hours.

After all this help the family was very satisfied and openly expressed their gratitude.

Let Us Not Litter in France

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One devotee often passes by a public housing estate in Clichy-Sous-Bois about 20 km from Paris. She noticed that the grounds around this estate were always extremely dirty, full of litter. Her observations spawned the idea for some Seva to make this site more pleasant for its residents, more welcoming to visitors and passers-by, and eventually to become an example.

Office bearers from the Paris 1 and Paris 3 Centres took part in a preliminary reconnaissance mission and took photos to be able to organise the work. They fixed the rendezvous point, the equipment needed and the vehicle to transport the collected rubbish to the public dump.

28 members participated in this challenge: 25 Sai members (including 5 youths), plus 3 Canadian non-members on vacation in Paris, who delayed their departure so that they could take part in the activity. While they were busy working, two young children who were walking their dogs were intrigued by what they saw. They came close to watch the devotees picking up rubbish thrown from the estate windows and one of the members told them, "See how dirty the estate is? What a lack of respect for nature and for everybody who lives here. This is a not a good example." The children immediately replied, "Ma'm, we'd like to help you clean. We're going to ask our mother for permission". They hurried away, and very soon they came back to help.

Rubbish being collected
Even children join in
Rubbish being loaded into the van
Almost done

Several passers-by watched with amazement, murmuring and smiling a "thank you". One man thought they were from the City Hall. Apparently, the residents of the estate had been asking for over a year for the city authorities to send someone from the "Streets and Roads Department" to pick up the burned garbage and empty oil cans thrown around this improvised parking area! They replied that they were not from the City Hall, but just a group of friends that preferred to spend their time in this way instead of watching television. He couldn't believe his ears and couldn't stop thanking them "from the bottom of his heart".

After a joyful picnic lunch in the adjoining woods, that was made more pleasant by a short play on the theme of non­violence acted by the young people, they started work again. They saw with regret that some of the areas cleaned that morning were already dirty again from garbage thrown out of the estate windows! But now five kids living there were waiting to help them again. Finally, they gathered approximately 80 garbage bags together with some large other items and performed two trips to the public dump, located several kilometres away.

At the end of the afternoon they left tired but very happy.

Beautifying Croatia

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Four members from Croatian Centres were selected to clean one of the most beautiful coasts to be found in the country, which had become terribly neglected despite its popularity. Even in autumnal September, people come to enjoy its blue waters and golden sand, yet neglect to collect their litter when they leave. As a consequence, garbage had been amassed and strewn throughout the whole area.

The challenge of cleaning the coast began with only a few people but soon some visitors, who were watching from nearby, joined in and started to collect the garbage too. Everybody enjoyed doing the service, and they cleaned the beaches on several other occasions. As before, ordinary visitors came to take part and all worked together as a team. This simple work helped all the participants enjoy themselves and led to a great sense of satisfaction.

 
Team work...works
 
Bagging garbage

Ensuring Italian Hospitality

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The Sai Organisation in Italy has been working on the maintenance and restructuring of a cottage guest house in the woods inside “Mother Sai” premises. This is part of a larger and more demanding challenge that they are executing so that the entire complex operates efficiently.

All the work was coordinated by professional builders, carpenters, painters, ably aided by Sai members from all over Italy. And many tasks were successfully completed like:

• Painting the walls, ceilings, doors and window frames.

• The installation of a new roof.

• Finishing touches to fixtures.

• Cleaning of gutter and rain-pipes.

• Renovating the external fence.

• The construction of a new gate.

• Leveling the surrounding land of the cottage.

Repairing the roof
Painters at work

The Mother Sai guest house is now ready to accommodate Sai members and visitors from all over Europe, and ensures them a hearty and hospitable welcome.

Super Music from Spain

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The Spanish Organisation came together in a truly harmonious way to create a CD of devotional songs which are easy to assimilate by the public in general. The idea was to spend a weekend together and to record the songs in two days with the help of technicians and professional friends. As a result, a beautiful CD was produced.

They first looked for the necessary human resources. They selected a dedicated member to co­ordinate the project, and then had to select members from different parts of Spain who had good voices and were able to perform as singers and musicians alike. Finally, the co-ordinator arranged for the participation of a professional musician and a recording technician from "Rec Studios" in Valencia. These friends who were non-members, worked hand in hand with the project's director and their selfless and generous assistance made the final results possible. So at the end the team achieved the collaboration of 21 people.

The team stayed in the residence of a local member and in just one intense weekend recorded all the main voices, accompanied by the guitar and percussion.

The songs had already been selected by the music director, who had also composed a number of new songs, and these were recorded one after the other under the supervision of the National Coordinator.

Getting ready to record
Devotional songs being recorded

The remaining features such as additional musical arrangements, blending, etc. were then completed by the music director with the assistance of professional experts from the small studio where all the recording took place.

As an expression of their love to Sai and the community the CD was titled "We Surrender". They state that their motivation was to uplift the consciousness and reach the hearts of people through devotional and spiritual singing. Their CD includes 18 devotional songs.

Service from Switzerland

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Some time ago, two Sai members travelled to Prashanti Nilayam, and after hearing so much from them about Sathya Sai Baba, one of their neighbours, an 83 year old lady decided to travel with them all the way to India.

The trip made them all feel extremely happy and joyful and back home in Sissach near Basel, the old lady was still touched by the immense Love and light of Sai that she had received. However, she now came to notice how gloomy her apartment was, in direct contrast to the light she carried inside.

Some Sai members heard of her discomfort and decided to intervene. On a Spring Saturday morning, three members from the Centre of Basel visited her home equipped with a ladder and all the essentials they needed to decorate the apartment. They worked with great enthusiasm for the whole day, in the name of Sai. The old lady helped as much as she could and by that evening, all rooms were freshly painted and the place was full of light. The old lady is very happy now that Sathya Sai Baba's light is shining both within her and around her.

Before renovation
The recipient of the the reovation looks on with joy
The end product

Dear reader, these are very short accounts and small glimpses of what’s happening in Europe. There is lot more happening in all these and other European countries, which we hope to collect, collate and share with you in the coming issues. From your side, if you are in Europe and know of any inspiring service activity happening in your region, you are welcome to send it to us at [email protected]. Thank you for your time.

- Heart2Heart Team


 


 
     
You can write to us at : [email protected]      
Vol 5 Issue 06 - JUNE 2007
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