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Love and Light

Region 1 - Seva Activity for Service in Sierra Leone

Members from Tooting Sai Centre were not deterred by the ice-cold conditions on Sunday 24th March; instead they came together and created a warm atmosphere whilst taking part in a worthwhile seva activity.

As doctors, nurses and general volunteers prepare to head to sunny Sierra Leone in April to aid the on going medical camps at Yonibana Sai Hospital, Yonibana, Mile 88, Sierra Leone, West Africa, volunteers came together to pack boxes and prepare gifts for the underprivileged people there. Having been on one of a number of previous camps back in 2009, I was pleased to arrive and see a swarm of volunteers buzzing around for this fantastic cause. The medicines packed will be used to provide free healthcare to the local people and the books and educational resources will be used to provide the much-needed education to the community, so that they themselves can evolve as a society. This also included a number of books on Sai literature, books for the younger children and books for the GCSE syllabus. Three active members of the Tooting Sai Centre have already gone earlier to Sierra Leone ( prior to the medical camp joining them on 10th April) to start the Educare programme ( EHV teaching, teaching of health and hygiene to schools/ villages , prevention of STD) and Sociocare programme ( doing a 'census' of approximately 65 villages in the surrounding area to determine disease patterns, age groups affected by various diseases, prevalence of certain diseases, what preventative measures can be introduced to the local communities and working with village 'chiefs' to reduce high incidences of infant mortality deaths).

It was a wonderful afternoon in which a total of 27 of 62 boxes, each 23 kilos in weight were packed with supplies for the medical camp there. Subsequently volunteers from Tooting Sai centre packed a further 35 boxes in the few days bringing the total to 1426 kg of medicines, books, food items, and clothing! The food items are for the medical camp personnel who have to do their own cooking as there is a scarcity of vegetarian supplies in this remote location of the camp. All of these supplies were either generously donated by volunteers and local businesses or purchased especially for the medical camp through the Better Lives Foundation charity.

Amongst these boxes, extra special gifts were wrapped for the children of Yonibana and the neighboring rural villages. Clothing was kindly donated for children who are from newborn, up to 6 years old. It even included an adorable range of sweaters, gloves, booties and hats for premature babies. These brightly colored clothes were all hand knitted with so much love by the voluntary group ‘Something beautiful for God’. Even though the climate is predominantly warm and sunny, the rainy season is fast approaching and evening time can be particularly cold, especially for the younger ones. Thankfully this clothing will reach Africa just in time for the season change.

After a long day, all the volunteers stood around the room grateful to the many donations and kind gestures of so many individuals that has made this trip once again possible. More so, everything was ready to take flight and make its way to the people in need over 3000 miles away in Africa.

Rishni Patel, Tooting Sai Centre