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Love and Light

Region 2 - YAP: "Holy Hearts, Helping Hands"

Sunday the 29th July saw Sri Sathya Sai Centre, Greenford host their ‘Young Adult’s Programme’ or ‘YAP’ for Region 2 youth wing. Although the programme was very well planned on paper, we were all aware that the day was fraught with uncertainties and we would need to be able to adapt to changes which were not in our control. Thankfully, our beloved Swami helped us overcome obstacles to make this day a fulfilling one overall.

Swami says ‘Hands that Help are Holier than Lips that Pray’ and therefore we decided to combine these two different aspects of prayer and service.

The day started off at 11am with Vedam chanting and Bhajans. Aarthi was offered at 12pm followed by a short ‘thought for the week’ reading by one of the youth. During the Bhajans, some of the male youth visited a bridge in West London which was well known for housing homeless immigrants. Originally, we had planned to leave after the Aarti but were made aware that there would be some traffic chaos because of lane closures due to the Olympics. We arrived at the bridge without facing any issues and were then faced with a very squalid atmosphere. There were a total of ten men who were staying there, but only two were present at that time. They had been staying in extremely filthy conditions, surrounded by waste and rotting litter. We were looked upon with some suspicion as soon as we got close, but were allowed to approach them when we signalled that we had only come to drop of some items. We then handed them clear plastic bags containing everyday necessities such as tooth paste, tooth brushes, mouth washes, face wipes, some snacks and bottles of water.

We were aware that many of these men had a serious drug habit and so we also handed them small packets of Vibhuti, along with instructions for its use, hoping that Swami would guide them through these passing clouds in their lives. We left the bridge and went back to Bhajans, reaching in time to receive Vibhuti prasadam.

After putting away the altar and blankets, the youth had a quick introduction to each other and left the Bhajan hall with trays of food and boxes of snacks for a residential home. Again, an alternative route was selected due to worries with traffic. However, the roads were clear and the journey was trouble free and we got to our destination at the appointed time. This particular residential home houses 43 individuals in self-containing flats. Many of them are elderly and some have disabilities. A small poster of weekend activities is displayed in the ‘common room’ and the residents can come downstairs and take part if they wish. We had planned a tea-party with games, riddles and other forms of light entertainment. However, it was quite obvious that our guests were not interested in our planned entertainment. They were more interested in something extremely valuable, which many people don’t give to each other in today’s society – Their Time. Our youth had tea, snacks and a light lunch with around 11 elderly residents. We sat and chatted to them and listened to their stories for a few hours!

One of the elderly male residents had been sitting in his room when we some of the youth knocked for him to invite him personally to the ‘Tea Party’. The gentlemen expressed his happiness saying something in the way of ‘This is how things should be!’ We could feel his plight as his floor felt lonely and dissolute. On talking to him later we realised that had a very rare spirit. His energy, his light hearted spirit, and his chuckle of laugher charmed us all. He told us that Allah is in his heart always which maybe helped to explain the source of his Joy!

Swami defines service as “Love made manifest”. Real service has never been about quantity but about quality and so the whole day was a positive experience for all involved. This was not only because everything we had planned was achieved, but also because different youth from different centres worked in a spirit of unison to bring a smile on the face of others. We hope Swami continues to inspire us, use us as His instruments so we can do something like this again in the future

Jai Sai Ram.

Rishi Chhibba
Greenford Youth Co-ordinator, Region 2