3 - Issue 3
West Bengal is a state in the eastern part of India, adjoining Bangladesh. The famous city of Calcutta is the capital of this state which produced three Nobel laureates for India! And now the state is once more setting an ideal in following the Lord's command: Love all; Serve all!
People are quite careful about the way they use toilets at home but when it comes to public toilets, it is different story in most parts of the World. No one seems to bother and rather quickly these toilets became unusable, there is intense stench making everyone complain but that is where the matter usually ends. But in places where there are people driven by pure idealism and a concern for public health, as Sai Youth are, it is a different matter. No false sense of dignity comes in the way; instead, it is an urgent desire to clean up the mess and improve the sanitary conditions. They talk of unsung heroes; one can see them here. The task may appear menial but that precisely is what transforms zeros into Heroes.
In the picture alongside, we see small railway station, and Sai Volunteers cleaning the urinal in the station. This is supposedly menial work and anyway, sanitation is the railway’s problem is it not? Maybe, but real life does not often workout that way. True, the railways are formally responsible but they too have their difficulties including financial crunch. So does one just talk endlessly about the problem? That is what usually happens but not here. Alive to the dangers of unsanitary conditions, these volunteers are essentially saying: “This is OUR station, and well, if no one is going to keep it clean, we will.” Today, most people act as if they are not connected with Society and that they owe nothing to it. That is wrong. As Swami often tells His students, “You are what you are because of Society.”
Every year in the month of January there is a festival called the Ganga Sagar Mela during which nearly half a million people converge on the spot where the Ganges enters the Bay of Bengal. On the ocean front, there are no toilet facilities that can handle such massive crowds. Sanitation becomes a huge problem but for the last fifteen years, nearly two hundred Sai Volunteers camp there just to remove night soil and keep the beaches clean. All this noble and selfless work has not escaped the eyes of senior administration in the State. Deeply appreciative of the spirit of service shown by the members of the Organisation, they have now slowly begun to make specific requests of their own. For example, in 2004, the District magistrate of Bankura contacted the Sai Organisation with a request; the Gandheshwari River flowing through Bankura town was dry most of the year. During that period thick vegetation grew covering a large part of the river. The area was then promptly converted into a garbage dump. Would the Organisation please clear the riverbed? The Organisation’s answer is there for all to see in the picture alongside.
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