Association of Voluntary Workers in Italy
The association of voluntary workers, Ayurville was created just a few months ago. So much has happened in such a short few months that they hope to do this article justice by not missing out on anything while sharing the spirit and energy that lies in all of them even though some of the association members are physically distant.
It all started years ago, at a time when many of them did not know one another yet; although Someone was “preparing” them. They used to do whatever was possible with Amrita’s school of Yoga “Sathya Yoga”, wherever and whenever necessary, in Italy, India, Nepal or elsewhere. They used to do whatever they could to the maximum of their abilities; although at that point in time an actual Seva group did not exist. The Seva activities were carried out by those who happened to be interested at the moment.
There was always a high level of enthusiasm but they had limited finances which fluctuated from one moment to another, and not much energy due to a shortage of helping hands. As this was the case, it was easier for them to sustain large projects over time. Projects that had to do with crowd-funding, that occurred only two or three times a year; until Amrita met with Victory Craxi. They had already been working together over the past two years, but their work and personal lives did not give them a chance to get to know each other at this level. After Victory’s first trip to Muddenahalli, they discovered this common interest of Seva they both had.
From that moment on everything changed; all that they had within them for so many years finally began to take form.....and what a form it took and with what speed! So much so that they are having a hard time fathoming it all! At first, they planned only three projects: giving company to the aged and/or the lonely, monthly collection of food items to sustain poor families and cooking for the homeless at a local canteen. They created a WhatsApp group with the people they knew and thought would be interested in collaborating with them. In just two days, they had over 70 people in the group from various parts in Italy!
Since then, ideas kept flowing in spontaneously. Every time they met, something new would be added. They were very happy to be able to do something for others and not be alone in this, in light of the interest of so many people. The official website was then born, a Facebook page and many new projects and collaboration with people, associations and companies. In time, the WhatsApp group did not suffice to sustain all that was stemming straight from the heart and so the Ayurville Association was born.
About three months ago Amrita, Victory and Antonio Franchina met to constitute the statute of the association and since then there has been an unstoppable barrage of people, ideas, help and wonders in Seva!
The first three projects they had initially planned grew exponentially, thanks to all their members. What are they currently doing? They sustain poor families through the monthly food collection; they sustain poor students by buying them books and other school materials; at the moment they are aiding two kennels in the south of Italy by buying food for the dogs and cats; they are collecting blankets, bed sheets, sweaters, jackets, caps, gloves and such to distribute to the homeless this winter; they offer professional services at discount rates, thanks to a group of lawyers, dentists, doctors, architects, pedagogues and so on; they will also be cooking and serving food at a canteen for the poor.
They have great support from many youngsters, not only as working professionals but also as University students aiding other students when in need by helping them with tuitions, for example. They also help with the monthly food collection to categorize and organize the various food items in boxes. The same is the case, when they prepare food packets for the homeless every Sunday. This last activity of feeding the homeless in Milan brings many of their volunteers to help out; an activity that has been up and running for just over a month. At first, it started out as a temporary service and they did not have any great expectations.
They were hoping to bring about 50 meals a week with two or three volunteers from the group taking turns every Sunday at noon; because as Victory had put it while suggesting this form of Seva “Poverty doesn’t go on vacation.” Instead, in just a month’s time they are bringing almost 1000 meals! Not only that; every Sunday they have about 10/15 volunteers in front of the central station in Milan ready to help the needy, armed not only with food but also charged with energy, joy and a smile! Each volunteer cooks at home and makes a packet with the cooked meal, a bottle of water, a fruit and a sweet because it is Sunday for the homeless as well!
It is really wonderful to see how every Sunday they are getting closer and closer to the homeless. At first there was shyness, trepidation and fear to approach each other. Now the people have started talking to the volunteers and recognizing them. They have started taking the volunteers to other poor unfortunate homeless people like them, since the volunteers do not know all the places they stay in. The homeless people get to know them; knowing that every Sunday they are the guests at lunch provided by the volunteers! What is also gratifying to see is the smile on the faces of the volunteers at the end of the Seva; tired from working under the hot sun, but oh so happy!
The volunteers do not know where else Ayurville will take them, but they know in their hearts that it will collect and unite more and more people, especially the youth. The world is in need of this. It is not only the homeless or the poor families who need this but also those who serve, since it is an exchange of humanity that helps both sides grow.
“While doing Seva one is only improving oneself”
Sri Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba