- Volunteer at Dallas Breakfast Seva
On September 21, 2019, a small group of us in Dallas, Texas had a wonderful opportunity to personally hear several experiences from Sai Aashraya volunteers. We were filled with bliss just by listening to the several ongoing service efforts in India like the 24x7 Narayana Seva, the Sai Aashraya Adarsh Gram, the Medicare Camp and so on. While sharing these experiences, one volunteer stated, “It is not about how Seva helps others, but it is about how Seva helps you”. This changed my whole perspective about Seva. I wanted to personally taste this sweet nectar of bliss that the volunteers claimed was possible only by doing selfless service. I thought to myself, “Alas! How I wish I were in Bengaluru at this time”. Just as I was having this fleeting thought, one volunteer said, “We should start a breakfast service here in Dallas!”. Everybody gathered replied unanimously, “YES!”.
All of us huddled up and started brainstorming ideas, logistics, volunteer schedules and it was decided that every morning, we will serve a bowl of hot oatmeal with water and fruits to the less privileged on the streets. At that time, it was unimaginable for us to be doing this every day! We thought “What about work? What about early morning meetings? How will our bosses react if we go into work late? How will we do this with just 4 volunteers?” The questions and doubts were countless. But we had undermined the power of a selfless thought. Everything magically fell into place and last week we celebrated the 1-year anniversary of the breakfast Seva! This journey of love has been a totally transforming one for all the volunteers involved.
The first day of seva on September 22nd was perhaps one of the most memorable one. All volunteers reached promptly at 8:00AM at a predetermined spot. Just as we were serving food and fresh fruit juice, I noticed that the volunteers paid equal importance to interacting with the people, hearing their stories and experiences. Just then a volunteer said “Serving food is only a medium. The real goal is to interact with them, to know their problems and ultimately to help them get off the streets. No one deserves to be on the streets.” Just as we were walking, we noticed an old man in severe discomfort. After talking to him, he told us that he was having trouble breathing. Some of us quickly rushed to a nearby pharmacy store to get medication. Upon examining his pulse rate, it was clear that chances of him having a cardiac arrest were high and he needed to be taken to a hospital immediately. After a few minutes of giving him some medication, he started feeling much better and started walking. We dropped him at a nearby bus top and asked him to go to the hospital immediately. In the following days, the volunteers kept checking on him and below is a picture of him taken a week later. He was smiling again.
In my experience, the joy of Seva is the greatest joy there is. To see a smile on peoples’ faces after having a hot bowl of oatmeal with their favorite toppings is the greatest bliss. As days went by, we developed a strong connection with the people, seeing them as our own family. They now recognize us by our names and call us the “oatmeal gang” Our only prayer to God is to help us continue be His humble instruments and continue this path of loving and selfless seva. Because in the end, ITS ALL ABOUT LOVE.