A Special Christmas and New Year Event at an Elderly Home

Swami has been emphasising to do more Seva for the elderly. In fact, He encouraged the youth from the Netherlands to serve the elderly in their country, as many of them feel lonely.

For a few months, some of the youth had been serving at an elderly home in the city of Waalre. In no time, there was a feeling to do something special for these elderly during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The youth took the initiative to bring this idea forward at the Sai Centre to further brainstorm with other devotees. It was amazing to see how everyone came in unity to think of ideas on how to create a nice event for the elderly and so many ideas were discussed. The youth then created a proposal for the management of the care facility and they gladly accepted the youth’s offer to organise such an event for December 29, 2017. The aim was to provide a special breakfast and do some activities with them. The care facility invited twelve residents to participate.

We really wanted to make it special for them, so the previous evening we decorated the place with a nice table cloth, lights, nicely folded napkins and some nice crockery. Because of the joyful occasion, we wanted to give them a present to take back to their rooms, so we packed presents not only for the participating residents, but for everyone in the facility (close to 60 elderly). Since the residents are not allowed to have candles in their rooms, the youth got artificial candles that work on a battery and have waving flames which looked quite real.

On the December 29, 2017 morning the youth were present with seven devotees at 8:00 AM to make the necessary preparations. They warmed the vegetarian croissants in the oven. The table was further covered with tasty sandwiches and various types of spreads. The place looked festive! The first residents came in at 8.30 AM; some were surprised and others reluctant to mingle with new faces. Soon the room was full, and they all enjoyed a delicious breakfast. Some residents could help themselves, but most elderly really had to be helped, which the youth did with pleasure and love. After breaking the ice with some live music tunes on the piano, the youth could see the residents started to have a great time. They just loved it and their faces lit up as they started to sing along to songs that were very familiar.

One of the other activities was to offer the residents beautifully hand-made cards so that they could either write something for themselves or for another resident or for a family member. That was also very successful and most of the elderly took a card to put in their room, but many also wanted to create a custom card for their family, so they asked us to write a message along the these lines – from grandma, with loads of love and sweet greetings.  There were only happy faces.

By 10:30 AM everyone moved to the main hall to continue to sing along famous Dutch songs, which they certainly knew. Soon more residents joined, and it became a big, cosy group, and they simply did not want to stop! It was truly a pleasure to see happy faces singing together. Just before lunch the youth handed out the presents. For those with a more serious case of dementia, they had to visit them in the closed ward to give them their presents. All of them were so surprised to end the wonderful occasion with such a token! The youth finally said goodbye with a grateful heart, that Swami gave us the opportunity to interact with these elderly, creating not only a fun event for them, but also a transformational experience for the youth as well. In the end, the youth really felt they could practise some of Swami’s teachings and how just a smile and a small effort could make a huge difference.