Greece Newsletter: February Issue
Table of Contents
Providing food, clothing basic items to homeless Greeks & refugees
A place for our NGO, “Nectar of Love”
Mobile Medical Unit
Ashram in Greece Architect Services for the Nigeria Hospital
PROVIDING FOOD, CLOTHING BASIC ITEMS TO HOMELESS GREEKS AND REFUGEES
Over the last month, our weekly Seva continued in the port of Piraeus. We would meet every Wednesday at 5pm at a brother’s house. In his yard, we would cook 120+ meals and package them along with fresh bread and chocolates. While the food was being cooked, we were praying and singing Bhajans so that through God’s grace the food could become Prasadam. The food would then be delivered to the homeless refugees.
We bought 100 blankets, 200 woollen beanies (winter hats), 200 thick gloves, 200 scarves and 200 winter socks, to be distributed over the next month. Attempts were made to find the thickest and warmest kinds because the homeless and the refugees are facing a very cold winter this year, with a lot of snow. With the food and other items loaded in our cars, we went out to find and serve the homeless in places that had been offered to them by the local authorities (places where they could sleep indoors). We would also find and serve homeless people who were sitting in alleys, on benches, and in places where they could avoid the cold wind. Often, we went to parks where they were sleeping. Sometimes, jackets and shoes were also distributed. The bitter cold meant that people needed warmer clothing in order to survive, so we went and bought jackets and shoes. On Christmas Eve, around 20 of us had gathered together to distribute gloves, beanies (warm hats), scarves and warm socks to homeless Greeks.
There was something that truly left an impression on us. Beanies, gloves, scarves and socks had been prepared to be given out together as a set. However, to our surprise, many of the homeless people would say, “Thank you, I have a pair of gloves and a scarf. Just kindly give me the other 2 items that I don’t have. It’s better if you give the gloves and scarf to someone else who may be in greater need.” We observed that people took only what they truly needed and would not accept to take anything more, in order not to prevent someone else from having them.
This taught us the lesson that these people who had nothing were not greedy; they only took what they truly needed. Their character had been moulded by the pain and difficult circumstances that they had been through. In contrast, those who have all of these things in plenty, when they are offered more, they easily accept and very rarely think of sharing with others. The selfless attitude displayed by homeless people happened many times; not just once or twice. This left us puzzled.
These people served as an example to the modern citizen, who buys many things that he doesn’t need. And although these people are homeless, their lives are more real, more true. Indirectly, these homeless people showed us the transitory nature of the material world and the faith that Life or God will take care of everything. This contrasts greatly with us modern citizens, who don’t have faith in Life or God. As a result, we store things again and again. And we end up drowning in our own desires. Service towards people in need becomes the means for us to inquire into our thoughts and actions, to leave behind our small world centred around “I” and “mine”, and to see a tougher reality that will awaken us, trouble us, and free us from the prison that surrounds us and that makes us dependant on many silly things, so that we may be able to see the truth.
A PLACE FOR OUR NGO- “NECTAR OF LOVE”.
We created an NGO called “Nectar of Love” and then found a place where this NGO will be based. It is a large space of 650m 2 , in the centre of Athens. From there, the following Seva (service) activities will be carried out:
1) Cooking for refugees, homeless people and whoever may be in need.
2) Providing warm clothing other necessities.
3) Doctors of all kinds (Pediatricians, Opticians, General Practitioners, etc.) will come to examine, diagnose and treat people who do not have access to healthcare services.
4) A Greek version of Sanathana Vani will be set up, with a fully equipped studio.
5) Lessons to children on human values will be carried out.
6) Organizing events which will help attract new youth members to our group, to serve Sai’s Mission
7) The place will also serve as a storage space for medicine, food and clothes, as well as a parking space for the mobile medical unit (in order for it to be kept in a safe place).
Some of these points will be explored in detail, below:
1) Cooking for the homeless refugees: As our Seva activities increased and diversified, there was an increasing need to find a place from which all the Seva would be carried out. This would help us to develop and expand our Seva activities. For example, we will be able to cook food in a more organized place, in an organized kitchen with large fridges, which will support anywhere between 100 to 2000 meals per Seva session, depending on what the requirements are for that particular week. The food will be packaged and will be offered to the poor along with a small bag, containing fresh bread and chocolate. We will be able to store foods that will be donated by people. Until now, all these things would be done at the houses of the brothers and sisters of our group.
2) Providing warm clothing other necessities: Through Seva, we came to realize that there was a great need for warm clothing during the winter. Therefore, in this newly founded place, clothes will be gathered, sorted out and given to people in need.
3) Sanathana Vani: After speaking with the people responsible for setting up Sanathana Vani in India, they gave us their kind permission as well as guidelines and the technical information needed to set up Sanathana Vani in Greece. The shows will include interviews, selected music, and will generally serve as a platform that will gather youth listeners, through which Bhagawan’s Message and Work can be spread. We are thinking of making a fully equipped studio; some brothers will be trained to run this Internet radio. In the beginning, a few programs will be broadcasted; over time they will become more regular. This Internet radio may prove to be a very powerful tool that will attract and inspire many young people. It will be tailored towards their needs, their way of life, giving them a spiritual flavor that will bring them closer towards their true Selves, and that will offer spiritual solutions to their modern-day problems.
4) Attracting people to serve Bhagawan’s Mission: The most important reason for creating a centre for all our activities, is that we will invite people who may not be following the same spiritual path as us, yet who are available for Seva. In this way, some of them will begin following Bhagawan’s principles in life.
5) Events: We will organize various events mainly tailored towards the youth, for example, speeches and discussion on Seva and the need for living a spiritual life. However, overall, we saw that Seva – the practical expression of spirituality – can attract a lot of youth and transform them in a magical way.
We are creating a website which will allow us to portray the work being done through our NGO, in accordance with Bhagawan’s teachings, principles and values. This website will serve as a means to spread His Work throughout Greece, and also display the work that we have done and that will be done in the future.
MOBILE MEDICAL UNIT
As the country faces increasing financial difficulties, more and more people, including the refugees, are left without access to basic healthcare services. Many are unable to get a diagnosis for a basic health problem. In order to help these people in need, we bought a large van, refurbished it on the inside and arranged it with high-quality medical equipment.
With a team of doctors, we will go to the places where people are in need. From there, patients will be diagnosed and either treated on the spot or sent somewhere else where they can be treated.
“ANANDA" ASHRAM DESIGN, NIGERIA DOCTOR'S APARTMENT QUARTERS AS WELL AS A SCHOOL FOR 600 ORPHANS
One of our youth brothers, who is responsible for creating the architectural designs for the “Ananda” Ashram in Greece (as guided by Swami), created an office with a team of 4 full time architects and a part time engineer. This initiative is being supported financially by the whole of our team. These architects work under his supervision, in order to create special designs as there are many requirements, given that the whole project will be built in a private forest, and we need specific licenses from different government departments. The structural engineering designs are being offered by another brother in our team.
Aside from the Ashram, the architect has also begun creating designs for the doctors’ quarters (houses doctors and nurses), in Swami’s hospital in Nigeria. Both himself and the rest of his team of architects and engineers are offering their services for this particular humanitarian project completely free of cost.
He is also creating plans for a school for 600 orphans, that Father Charles would like to build with Bhagawan’s blessings and permission. In order to carry all of this work in a very small time period, he has now hired more architects. This is a form of Seva that he is offering, supported by this team of architects.
For the 30 acres (120,000 Sq.m ) that were purchased in order build the Ashram, arrangements had to be made for topography (drawings and measurements indicating the height and shape of the land). One of the brothers in our team is a topographer, and he offered his time, experience and equipment selflessly for almost two months to help us carry out this task. He was accompanied by a team of three people, who would each take turns going with him. Height measurements had to be taken, the number of trees had to be counted and the empty spaces between the trees had to be measured, in order to help the architect decide where to place the residential houses, the roads, buildings, dining hall, and carry out the environmental study in order to submit the plans and obtain the license.
This would have cost us a lot of money if it had been to an organized office. The team of youth brothers as well as the topographer worked every day, often under difficult conditions (spending all day taking measurements in the snow) in order to speed up the process. Often, the youth brothers would overlook their daily duties and use up all of their free time and money in order to move Swami’s Mission in Greece forward.
ASHRAM IN GREECE
THE TEAM OF ARCHITECTS