Feeding the Hungry in Leipzig, Germany
Every Wednesday, in a tiny village in East Germany, a few youth and a few elderly prepare lunch packages for the homeless, which are then taken to Leipzig (the next large city, 30 minutes away) and distributed. This small Seva has been integrated into the biweekly Seva-action days of Atmaseva Service Community. While others in the community are painting walls, working in the garden, cooking meals, driving a digging machine, cleaning floors, this particular action of preparing lunch packets has the quality of returning awareness of the youth to the very real needs of others outside the community. At the behest of Swami, in November 2019 during the international youth conference and birthday celebrations, to ‘feed the world’; several youth and young-at-heart who were then present, took this call very seriously. The very same day that they returned to Germany from India — tired, inspired and uncertain of exactly how to begin — four of them, saturated with Swami’s love, went to the store, purchased the things they thought would make for a stomach-filling (albeit simple) lunch. The next day they drove to Leipzig with prepared packets and thermoses of coffee and tea.
It can be tempting to think that doing Seva requires having a full or clear plan before initiating. We may think we need to know all the details of how to implement an action before doing so: in this case — where are the people who may need this food? How will we find them? Shall we simply approach people who ‘look’ hungry and walk around looking for them or shall we go through an organisation? Have we made enough packets, too many packets, and so on... But truly, it is not so; one need not know how it all goes. Simply following a divine impulse, trusting divine intelligence to lead, knowing that a small action is better than none — this opens doors. The first experience in Leipzig of distributing packets was a beautiful one with the greatest challenge being finding people who would be in need of them. The group walked for hours, an action that has since been streamlined into about half an hour to an hour. Their intention is to soon pick a distribution point and through contact with a few homeless brothers and sisters, choose a regular meeting time and point at which more people can receive nourishing food.
Right now, between 9 and 22 packages are distributed at a time since it is not possible to find more hungry people than this at any given time. 260 meals have been distributed since the end of November 2019. The Atmaseva team is looking to network with some local organisations, and/or find other and closer towns in the area where people are hungry. The need is also greater than just the food. This winter, as they were distributing the packets, they noticed that one man’s hands were so cold, they were turning blue. “Sir, do you not have any gloves?” they asked. “No, I don’t.” So they returned next time with gloves for him and many others. Making it through a German winter on the streets is not an easy thing, but the compassion and service of these youth brings relief and His blessings to those who truly need it!