2017 Youth Service Highlights
Over the course of 2017, His Divine Will was carried out by His instruments all across the world. From Australia to Argentina, Mexico to Malaysia, embodiments of love gathered together to do what little they could to better the world around them. In turn, they showed just how large and lasting an impact they could actually have. Let’s have a look at some of the beautiful activities fellow brothers and sisters engaged in. Below is just a sample of the work done by the youth volunteers so far this year. In future Special Issues, many of the other wonderful service projects will be highlighted. Hats off to all of the youth for their hard work serving their communities!
Addressing the Needs of the Homeless
Homelessness is one of the first and easiest societal diseases to diagnose. Yet, it continues to plague our otherwise advanced society. Youth from around the world took upon the mission of taking care of those who have been completely left behind, in any way they could.
These included providing snacks and freshly prepared meals, much-needed hygiene and cold-weather items, health check-ups and vocational training, flowers for Valentine's Day and singing carols for Christmas, and perhaps most importantly, wide smiles and eager ears. Overall these initiatives were carried out by innumerable volunteers and helped serve and inspire countless more.
In the USA, an initiative, a directive of Swami Himself, began gaining traction. Swami had commanded the youth of California to "find a permanent solution to homelessness," focusing especially on addressing child homelessness. No small endeavour, and one in the pursuit of which many other organizations would have fallen short. But as with initiatives guided by Swami's divine hands, Sai Ashraya, as the initiative was beautifully named, quickly started falling into place - the plight and needs of homeless children were truly ascertained; key partnerships with regional organizations were established; state accreditations required to assist children were achieved; a physical location to provide assistance and mentorship to these children was established; and ultimately, two teenagers who would not have had the opportunity or resources to pull themselves out of their situation were given life-changing course corrections. This model is now being replicated across and gaining traction in other states in the USA. If you'd like more information or would like to participate, please contact/visit: Bobby Patel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Addressing the Needs of Children
Swami has made it clear that the future of society depends on the well-being of children. Accordingly, initiatives have sprung up around the world addressing the needs of our most prized possessions, including providing free health and dental check-ups, access to the Internet and up-to-date learning materials, and education in Human Values.
In India, an initiative to provide free breakfast to school-going children began gaining significant traction. Annapoorna Breakfast Program, as it was called, started off in 2012 as a small project with a grand vision: "Let no child go to school hungry. Ever!" The premise was that providing a free meal to start the day would not only encourage more children in poverty-stricken families and communities to attend school regularly, it would also improve health and academic performance. Since, the project has grown from serving one school to now over 1300 schools, across 11 states, and from benefiting 80 students, now over 85,000! Swami has stated that this initiative will grow to encompass all of India and that before long, the government of India will mandate free breakfast to all school-going children. What a noble undertaking indeed! If you'd like more information or would like to participate, please contact/visit: Anand Kumar at Saianandham@gmail.com.
Addressing the Needs of the Displaced
As we enter the Golden Age of Truth and Unity Consciousness, a great churning and unfurling to facilitate our individual and collective transformation lies ahead of us. This transition can be self-inflicted, such as in wars and economic austerity measures, but can also be entirely dictated by Mother Nature, including but not limited to hurricanes/ typhoons, tornadoes, floods, fires and famines. Events like these can bring out the best in people, help areas become more
resilient in facing future travails, and most importantly, help people put aside their differences and come together for a singular purpose.
In Greece, one of the most pressing issues at hand is how to address displaced refugees fleeing war-torn areas of the Middle East. In many surrounding areas, the prevailing notion has been to limit or even prevent these refugees in seeking asylum in their more stable countries. Simply put, fear has
many times taken precedence over love. However, a group of individuals has gotten together over the past few years to put into action their ideals of "Love All, Serve All" and embrace their fellow human beings. These youth have been spreading love through feeding and providing basic necessities to those fleeing conflict or left homeless, sometimes over 1,000 people in a single occasion. The scale of this travesty, displacing millions of refugees is almost
unimaginable. At times it may feel like there may not be an end in sight.But with God at their back, the messengers of his love need not worry - the scale of His Love is even more unimaginable. In the end, it is not so much the transformation of our communities that He is after; it is the transformation within ourselves - truly, God was serving, and God was being served.
As 2017 draws to a close, let’s look back on the year with gratitude and humility. Gratitude for having been given the chance to transform the world and ourselves, and humility for recognizing that, though we have come a long way, we have a long road ahead of us. Indeed, the path ahead of us may very well test us to our limits, individually and collectively. But if we stop and look within, we may just get a chance to hear our souls’ urge – to transform ourselves, our collective selves from I to We to He, that this experience on Earth is exactly what we signed up for. Brothers and sisters, the light is visible at the
end of the tunnel; the golden age is in sight. Let’s join our hands and hearts and march forward together - to the more beautiful world our souls know is possible.