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Love and Light

Journey to Kazakhstan - Experiences from the 15th International Service Camp of Russian Speaking Countries

With the Divine Blessings of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the 15th International Service Camp in Russian speaking countries was conducted in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Karaganda Region in the town of Saran and nearby villages from August 1 to 10, 2013.

This was a united effort of 254 volunteers from over 11 countries worked together to serve the people of Kazakhstan.

The service camp was organised by the Russian speaking devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Service Organization. The volunteers from Kazakhstan and Russia, under the leadership of Mr. Valery Voschinin, (Chairman, Russian Speaking Countries, Sri Sathya Sai Organisation) and Ms. Saule (National Coordinator of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation in Kazakhstan), conducted extensive preparatory work to organize this camp. Their selfless love and energy was a true reflection of Swami’s message of “Love All, Serve All”.

Nine Teams - Unity in Action

There were nine teams in total. Each team had a specific objective and purpose: the Medical team - organised the Medical Camp and visits to the ten adjacent villages.; the Translators team - interfaced with the non-native speaking doctors and the local population; the Building Brigade team - renovated and completed construction projects; the Narayan Seva team - provided food to the needy; the Educare team - educated children and organised activities; the Kitchen Seva team - fed and nourished the volunteers; the Media team - captured the event and activities as well as interfaced with local authorities; the Security and Administration team - ensured the safety of volunteers and provided administrative support to the Camp; and the Transportation team - made available the transportation required by the volunteers to conduct their activities.

Medicare

It consisted of 84 Volunteers led by Dr. Upadhyay from U.K. The Russian speaking doctors along with 24 volunteers from UK, USA and Canada (13 medical professionals, 3 medical students and 8 paramedics and general support workers) participated in this camp. The medical team was divided into 4 groups with one group serving in the polyclinic in Saran and the other three groups traveling to different villages each day. The ‘global’ teams were working together as one team to serve the patients’ best interest. Each non-Russian speaking physician was coupled with a Russian (and/or sometimes a Kazakh) speaking translator. These translators were the key to ensuring that ‘seva’ could be done optimally. Some of these Interpreters had been training for over a year for this job. The Local Clinics also gave their complete cooperation to the visiting physicians.

The medical team consisted of the following specialties: Ophthalmology, Optometry, Neuropathology, Immunology, General Practice/General Medicine, Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Endocrinology, Nephrology, Pediatrics, Dentistry/Stomatology, Psychiatry, Psychology, Reflexology, Massage specialists and Medical Students. Some of the medical team members, in addition to seeing patients in the clinics, also made some home visits for the patients who could not walk to the clinic.

Free eye glasses (prescription glasses / spectacles) were provided to those in need. Prescription medications were given free of cost. Psychiatric counselling and Pain therapy were provided and this helped several patients who did not think that they would ever receive this type of help for free.


The youth medical students conducted dental and hygiene workshops which were very well appreciated.

Wheelchair, baby jumper and medical equipment were donated to patients/local Polyclinic. In total the medical team treated more than 6,500 patients and also gave follow-up care for some patients. Each physician had a unique experience and everyone felt like the instruments of Divine Love.

This was wonderfully summed up by a comment made by a patient that she saw Purity in our eyes and Love in our hearts.

Sociocare

On the social front, the building brigade team of over 50 volunteers took up 6 construction projects. Their jobs included fixing bathroom floors, walls, and showers, installing tiles, wooden flooring in schools, replacing doors, changing electrical fittings, painting and so on.

They covered 2 kinder gardens, 2 schools, 1 house for mentally retarded people, 1 old people’s home and 1 college hostel. This team also covered distribution of free food packets, clothes and washing liquid. This was similar to Grama Seva activities in Puttaparthi. This team distributed these packets to 150 houses with low income members (with over 1 tonne of food supplies distributed).

The Ladies wing of the UK Sathya Sai Service Organisation had provided several new clothes for children and patients, along with bracelets for the children (these bracelets were handmade by Balvikas children in UK. Such packs for some volunteers in the medical team were also prepared.



Educare

Apart from medicare and sociocare, the service camp covered educare services too. The Educare team consisted of 40 volunteers who imparted Human Values to over 186 children surrounding schools in Saran and to the children of all volunteers who participated in the service camp.

There were lots of interactive sessions and a teacher training workshop was also held. A one day activity day with disabled children. Toys and electronic equipment were also supplied to local schools (e.g., laptops, 1 large screen TV, DVD player, camera and so on).

It would not be fair if the hard work of the cleaning, transportation and kitchen teams was not mentioned – their work started before and ended after the service activities began/ended. There were lots of other volunteer teams – such as registration, IT, media, security, administration. A concert held by volunteers and local celebrities was held on August 8, 2013. On August 9, 2013 Dana Gillespie won many hearts by an enthralling performance.

It was a great pilgrimage of service by working with the extended Sai family using the universally available medicine of love. We pray to Swami to give us continued opportunities to be part of His mission by serving His people. We thank Swami for his love, guidance and support.

Urvi Widhani