Middle East Seva
It is when man thinks that he has an answer to the entire puzzle, it is when he feels that he has everything in control, it is when man solely depends on his technology and the latest scientific development, it is when man thinks that he is the ruler and can misuse earth and her possessions that Nature decides to show man the way. It is only when drastic measures are taken against man that humans realise the importance of nature, the nourishment she offers, the influence of wildlife; the merit of time and the value of friends. Also, it is when a virus brings life to almost a lock down situation, that we know the opportunities of service that our dear Sai has blessed us with. Lastly, we now know that when all else fails, there is always an Authority so compassionate, yet so powerful, who comes to man’s rescue. In short, it is time to go Inward, Godward - ‘Saiward’.
The coronavirus has proved to be one of the biggest challenges to humanity. We have understood now that it is the need of the hour to support one another while still maintaining a safe, social distance. With the Desert Seva scheduled for the first week of March and the Middle East Government sending out warnings restricting large group gatherings, closing down places of worship, shopping malls and schools; the volunteers were put to a big test. By the grace of Swami and the sincere efforts of the volunteers, the eighth, monthly Desert Seva was carried out successfully. Also, to be noted is that this Seva was conducted when the government restrictions in the Middle East were at a minimal level. So how did the volunteers reach out, while still ensuring the safety of all?
To make this possible, a lot of planning went in before commencing the Seva. Tasks were assigned to each person and time slots were allotted. The tasks involved, collecting the items to be distributed from friends and contacts, packing the commodities for the different camps and distributing the items to the desert workers. For each task, a specific number of members was selected and it was ensured that more people do not gather and work together. As a result, only few members were assembled at each stage of the process, but the overall picture was a group effort with an active participation from everyone.
It has been eight months since the Desert Seva in the Middle East began. It started by serving a small number of people (5-10), but today, with the blessings of the Lord, the volunteers are able to serve about 49 people spread out in nine areas. “Selfless service alone gives the needed strength and courage to awaken the sleeping humanity in one's heart”- Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This cannot be more true to what the volunteers witnessed during the Desert Seva. In the initial days, one observed that the living conditions of the desert workers were sub-standard, but on seeing the volunteers come to serve the desert workmen, the employers too have renovated the former’s shelter homes and provided the employees with a larger living space. The workers report that they not only see a difference in themselves, but also in the way they are treated by their employers. The volunteers realise that this is the unseen hands of Sai pulling the strings of the puppets in order to transform the world. The people have expressed time and time again, the joy and transformation they have experienced ever since the first visit of the volunteers. Swami has brought about monumental changes to the lifestyle of the people there. The youth pray to Swami that He blesses them to carry out the Seva despite any challenges that they may face and help them bring about a smile to the people around them. It all begins with a small step, a small change within oneself, and one sees the magic happening around. A true statement by Gandhiji, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”