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Love and Light

National Service Wing Meeting 2015: A Report

On 15th February 2015, the National Wings Conference began with uplifting devotional songs and a key message from Swami highlighted by our UK Chairperson, Dr. Kiran Patel. On one occasion, Swami asked one of his students what he wanted. The student replied. "Nothing Swami". Swami pressed him to ask for something, and upon some reflection he replied,"Please give me liberation Swami". Swami with a smile chided him lovingly and made a profound statement: "You ask for liberation, when I give you the opportunity to serve!".

Energised and thought provoked, despite a cold morning, the National Service Wing members plunged straightaway into deep deliberations which began with a review of the activities in 2014, and quickly moved on to discuss the plans for 2015 - the 90th year of the advent of our dear Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

As an introduction, brother Jayesh, Region 1 Service coordinator, highlighted the important ingredients of Service, i.e love and dedication, through a video showing a man making food and then feeding the homeless, talking to the elderly and disabled in a loving manner, and even attending to their personal needs unreservedly where necessary. This was followed by an inspirational quote:

"Service is a lifetime program: It knows no rest or respite. This body has been given to you so that you may devote its strength and skills to the service of brother-man. Serve man until you see God in all men; then what you do will be elevated to worship. " - Sathya Sai Speaks 1975.01.06.

Inspired for sure but were they warmed up? Not enough it seemed. But brother Santosh, Region 3 Service coordinator, soon got everyone up to break the ice at one end of the room. Each individual was made to jump across a dividing line depending on whether they were an early riser or late, up for a pizza or pasta, a Bollywood goer or Hollywood goer, up for romance or a comedy, up for action or adventure....dare to say it was painting a picture of individual characteristics! However, there was laughter in the air and smiles on faces - definitely warmed up and ready to serve - a Service wing with a smile!

Delegates then gathered into groups of 8-10 members and considered the activities under the 5 Streams which Bhagawan Baba has identified and enunciated for all of us to participate, namely the streams of Sociocare, Aquacare, Medicare, Envirocare, and Educare.

Each of the regional leads then presented the activities that are currently ongoing in each of the above stream and shared their experience in meeting objectives and surmounting challenges. Although it was evident that most of the activities were well received and well delivered, the need to refocus on some aspects was recognised, especially in relation to the optimal and effective use of resources. Another key point which was highlighted was the imperative to improve upon communication and perhaps understand and filter out why we do what we do, particularly for the benefit of the youth in our organisation.

With enthusiasm ripe, the groups then took to a quick fire session of brainstorming, and jotted down on post-it notes any ‘new’ service activity ideas under each of the streams, for Project 90 - our offering of gratitude on Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's 90th birthday. To work up their appetite for lunch, each member was asked to run up to the wall and stick their post-it note under the respective stream.

After lunch, the members gathered into respective regional groups to meet the regional service team, discuss activities at centre level, along with the importance to compile brief but robust monthly service wing reports. After all these deliberations, the National Service Coordinator, brother Mukund Patel, presented a summary. Two activities would be taken up initially with a national focus, and in partnership with relevant national and local agencies. One would be under the Envirocare stream involving activities such as tree plantation and habitat support, and the other would be under Educare involving activities such as providing material support (stationery, books, equipment etc) in needy populations both in UK and other countries in collaboration with International Sai Organisation. On going activities under the other streams such as homeless feeding, food banks, serving the elderly etc (Sociocare), Sathya Sai health awareness clinics, blood donation, first aid training (Medicare), Sai Emergency Relief Volunteers (SERV) will be further consolidated.

Our national offering to Swami for Christmas in Prashanti was discussed and teams / team leaders will be formed as everyone registers and finalises their dates between 5th of December 2015 to 5th January 2016.

The service wing meeting concluded with everyone eager to implement the activities agreed above in their Centres and Regions and working in unison with all our fellow devotees and volunteers. All wings of the organisation returned to the main hall with the national leads presenting the outcomes of the respective wings. The session ended with devotional songs and Aarti.

Arun Gohil
On behalf of National Service Wing