Feeding Those in Need in Croatia
Swami’s directive of providing food to the hungry has resonated strongly in the hearts of the youth over the last two months of 2019. The youth of Croatia, with the help of devotees and other heart-driven volunteers have initiated and participated in several activities such as distributing 2,054 meals in this period!
The main activities of food distribution which took place between November and December 2019, include:
Grama Seva: ‘Hills of Love’
In the Krnjak Municipality of Karlovac County, where it is planned for the Ashram to be located and where the House of Unity is already constructed, the second Grama Seva was held in cooperation with the social services of the local municipality.
Prior to Seva, donations were collected in Zagreb for ten days and 50 packages were prepared. A very large number of devotees responded. Each package contained flour, cereals, polenta, pasta, rice, salt, sugar, oil, vinegar, tinned vegetables, fruits, marmalades, soup packets, spices, biscuits and hygiene products. These packages were distributed between December 22 and 27, 2019. Several social service workers participated in the distribution of packages alongside the devotees. They spent time talking and hanging out with the people whose houses they visited. This experience left a deep impression on all participants.
2. Distribution of food to the homeless:
The youth have joined as volunteers at a humanitarian association which distributes meals to the needy twice a week at the main train station in Zagreb. They participate in the preparation and distribution of the meals, as well as individually preparing packages which include cakes, fruits and juices. In addition to the meals, the youth provide clothing and footwear. They spend time talking to the people they serve.
The first distribution of meals as a group took place on the evening of November 22, 2019 as a spontaneous idea of welcoming and celebrating Swami’s Birthday. The service has continued, recently marking the arrival of Christmas and the New Year with the distribution of food on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. In total, the youth have participated in six sessions of food distribution so far and the number of participants is only growing.
“The elderly population of low socioeconomic status dominates the area of Krnjak. With every turn, and every kilometre away from the main road, away from the shops, post office or ambulance, our journey becomes more and more meaningful. The stories of the people separated from the society would invite almost every person directly to the space of the Heart. Faced with half-empty houses, we simply recognize that the strongest assets we have are within us – warm words, wise love, respect, laughter and hugs. These are what can move mountains.
Another clear message that came out from this service is the willingness to move towards reaching the goal. Such raises the question of service and helping, and brings to the surface one’s inner capacity for love, for fellowship, for God. Can we, in the time to come, find the Divine that lies within us and bring what we are made for? This in His story, our story, definitely holds an important place.
Let us find wisdom, courage, love and joy. Let’s embrace the five human values, Him, each other, and let’s go.”
“Each time, prior to service and upon my arrival, I felt joy and a good energy as I constantly felt we had God's blessings and His support. When personal contact occurs, when you are close to these people, whether you want it or not, they touch your soul. You are aware of their feelings. Through conversation, you can feel their anger and sadness and, worst of all, in some cases they have lost hope that they will get better. My feelings are mixed. I have an impression that those of us who have come to serve are truly blessed and this gives me a positive feeling. Yet, when you look at all the suffering, you cannot be completely happy. I would like to tell them that everything will be fine. May God bless them.”
“The members of the group we have joined in serving the homeless are a true example of Jesus’ teaching of love, selflessness, and service. All that I am trying to learn, I could learn from their example. From all these activities, I am blessed to testify that the answer to love is love itself and that everyone has something to give – a smile, a song, kind words. On a number of occasions, the homeless people also wanted to share their love and what little they have with us and others.”
“Through the opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters, who are either homeless, sick or abandoned, we had the duty and task, unknown to us, of transcending our separation from other people. We have developed empathy and we have shared pain and joy with these souls. The past two months have been a blessing. I feel deeply that Sai has made us more connected to ourselves and to each other. Let us continue in a spirit of selflessness with full hearts and without prejudice.”