Issue 163 - February 9, 2020
Inspirational Note...
On Nov 21, 2019 the third day of world youth meeting, a devotee asked Swami  " I feel that my being is full of phobias, fears and insecurities which hold me back, stopping me from moving forward. How can I liberate myself from these fears, phobias and insecurities? What can I do or what should I do to help myself to get rid of all that?"
 
And here is what Swami said:
 
   " You know, there is a story where a lion cub gets lost in a flock of sheep and it grows up with the sheep, thinking it is a sheep. It eats grass like a sheep, it bleats like a sheep and it goes around with the sheep as one of them. Then, one fine day it so happens that a big lion comes to that jungle and roars. So all the sheep are full of fear and run for their lives and this little lion cub also runs along with the sheep, thinking after all, that it is a sheep. But the big lion watches from afar. “What is this lion cub doing in the middle of these sheep.” So he calls the cub and the cub is attracted by the grandeur of the lion because there is something that connects the two, so it goes to the lion. The lion asks, “What are you doing with the sheep?” The cub says, “What do you mean? I am a sheep.” “You’re not a sheep. You’re a lion cub.” He says, “No, I’m a sheep.” He’s so convinced that he’s a sheep because he has been living with that thought that he’s a sheep for so long. The cub has been keeping the company of the sheep, so it is thoroughly convinced that it is a sheep. It even bleats and says, “I am a sheep for sure.” The lion says, “No you’re not. Come along”. And takes it and shows its reflection in the water. Then the cub realises, “I’m not a sheep. I’m a lion.” The moment it realises this truth, it becomes fearless. It doesn’t have to run away like the sheep for the sake of its life. Truth will make us fearless. Untruth will make us weak. So, all those who feel, “I’m good for nothing, I have these problems, I cannot do this,” they have to remind themselves who they truly are. They’re not sheep. So what if they’re living amongst sheep. Everybody is born divine. The whole power of God is lying within each one of us. That’s why the scriptures say "Shrunvantu vishve amrutasya putraa". Listen, you children of immortality. I tell our children, “In the classroom if the teacher is angry, you get poor marks and the teacher says, ‘You’re a donkey.’ The child believes, “I’m a donkey.” If somebody says, “You’re a stupid boy,” they believe they are a stupid boy. If someone says, “You’re a foolish girl,” they believe they are a foolish girl. But when somebody says, “Our scriptures say, our Vedas say, ‘You are God, you’re all-powerful, you’re all-capable,’” no, you’re not ready to believe that. 

So do believe in that truth that we are divine, we are God. We are not realising that because we have somehow thought that we are sheep. So get rid of that thought. See your true reflection. The mind is the lake in which you should see who you truly are, and that reflection is God. So once you believe that you’re God, you’re divine, you’re pure, you’re all-powerful, then all these negativities will disappear. When the sun rises, where is darkness? Darkness disappears. Likewise, when this ‘I’m divine’ knowledge rises within, “I’m God, I’m divine, I’m good,” all negativity will simply disappear. So keep telling yourself, “Aham Brahmasmi, soham.” The breath keeps repeating soham, soham. Every time some negativity comes, tell yourself, “I’m not a sheep. I’m God. I’m a lion. I’m not a sheep. I’m not a sheep.” Keep telling yourself that. Your breath repeats soham, soham, soham 21,600 times a day, I am That, I am That, I am That. Why are we not listening to our breath? Why do I have to listen to others around me? So, listen to that voice, listen to that truth which is coming from within and believe in that truth. Once you realise that truth, you’ll become fearless. No thing or no one can stop you. Nobody can make you feel lower or less. If you believe that you truly are God "Poornamadah, poornamidam”, "I’m complete by myself. I’m full by myself. I don’t need anybody to add to me or remove from me. I’m complete by myself.” That realisation must come to all. That’s why Vivekananda said, “You are potentially divine.” Potentially divine. It means you’re divine, but you’re not realising you’re divine - but there’s a potential, there’s a seed of divinity in you. Water it and it will grow into a divine plant. So, allow yourself to believe that you’re divine and then let the divinity take over all of your thoughts, words and actions and you’ll become fearless."

Service Updates
Seva Activities by Sri Sathya Sai
Annapoorna Trust and their Collaborators
Fourth Year Anniversary Celebrations of Sri Sathya Sai Annapoorna Trust – December 28- 29, 2019
The celebrations marking the fouth anniversary of Sri Sathya Sai Annapoorna Trust and seven years of the Annapoorna Breakfast Seva Programme brought together Annapoorna volunteers and beneficiaries from several states. From schools where Annapoorna Programme is currently running, 200 teachers from Karnataka, 300 teachers from Andhra Pradesh and 200 teachers from Telangana also participated in the celebrations and reaffirmed their commitment to the noble cause. The 1000+ people who participated in the celebrations immersed themselves in the joy of being able to feed four lakh children breakfast everyday across India and got inspired to be able to feed more children in the coming years.
Grama Seva
On the morning of 28th December, all the teachers, volunteers and students proceeded to nearby villages for the annual Grama Seva. With over 800 volunteers participating in the Seva, food and clothes were distributed in 94 villages in Chikkaballapur Taluk, in order to mark the 94th birthday of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Government Appreciation
Honourable Education Minister of Karnataka, S Suresh Kumar speaking about Sai Sure, Multi-nutrient Health Mix
Address by the Honourable Minister of Telangana, Sri Dayakar Rao
The Honourable Minister, Sri Dayakar Rao expressed his admiration for the noble work being undertaken as part of the Annapoorna Trust and spoke of several new initiatives introduced by the Telangana government, which can go hand in hand with the work being done by the Annapoorna team.
CSR EVENTS
Fiserv Employees CSR engagement with
Annapoorna schools in Noida
Employees from Fiserv, a Fortune 500 company catering to Solutions for Financial services and banks visited the needy government schools in Hoshiarpur village, Noida, Uttar Pradesh where children are served morning nutrition by Sri Sathya Sai Annapoorna trust. This team of volunteers is directed and supported by Fiserv leadership.

The volunteers spread some warmth and love in these cold winters by gifting the children with warm socks and cream biscuits. They enjoyed interacting with the kids and felt satisfied with a good deed done.

Annapoorna thanks Fiserv for their selfless contribution!
Oracle CSR Christmas Celebration at JP Nagar
15 Volunteers from Oracle celebrated Christmas with the Annapoorna Breakfast Seva beneficiary children at the JP Nagar Centre. Volunteers indulged the children in Christmas tree decoration. They shared stories about the Message of Christmas, Birth of Jesus followed by Christmas Carols. They played few games with the children as well. A Christmas cake was cut and Santa Claus distributed gifts to the children! The 30+ kids who participated in this event were delighted to receive gifts from Santa and really enjoyed the celebration.
Other Annapoorna Service Activities
Annapoorna volunteers from KPMG visited an Annapoorna supported school in Chikkathongu, Bangalore and gifted the children with goodies. The 50 children at the Government lower primary school received coloring books, ruled books, stationary kits and coloring kits from them.
Sri Sathya Sai Aarogya Vahini
A Mobile Hospital Service
West Bengal India
Love on Wheels reached out this week to five Nodal Points in West Bengal, India, offering over 650 consultations with the support of the Pharmacy. This was extended totally free of cost as part of the Mobile Medical Services with Diagnostic Services. 

28 cataract surgeries were facilitated, completely free of cost, including beneficiaries who required special ambulatory services. Post-surgical follow-up was done for the beneficiaries who would be provided with new spectacles for the new refractive index.

A special feature of the Mobile Medical Service is involving innovative portable tools in diagnosis and screening patients. Two camps screened 40 rural patients for Diabetic Retinopathy using tools capable of capturing high resolution images of the human eye. Ten patients with symptoms were confirmed to have the condition. 

Oral Cancer Screening also continued as part of the programme from the Dental team, where one male patient was confirmed to have Erythroplakia and has been referred for further treatment.

One Meal A Day Seva
The One Meal a Day (OMAD) programme was started in the Middle East to eradicate world hunger and prove that each person’s small input can have a big impact. Participants ranged from schoolchildren to adults, with most active members within the age group of 30 to 50; all united under the stand of serving the impoverished. Food provided was diverse in nature, with cooked meals, biscuits, fruits and juices being most popular. Many did not restrict themselves to just one meal per day; a total of 765 meals were served collectively in the first month of the year!

Track sheets were designed to keep a daily log of meals served by the members, as well as car and mobile stickers. These were created to spread the idea of OMAD while also acting as a constant reminder that this Seva is a step towards self-transformation.

This programme was meant to feed the needful regardless of divisions like gender, nationality or occupation. Meals were served to those who needed it, such as comfort room managers in schools and ragpickers from the roads.

“Someone remembers, someone cares, your name is whispered in someone’s prayers.” These words are visibly reflected in the eyes of both the giver and the receiver; the big difference between them diminishing with each small act of kindness! Every day begins with the devotion of preparing a meal to be shared with somebody and ends with the satisfaction and happiness of seeing yet another tick mark on the yellow track sheet. Every day is a new experience disguised in the form of a familiar routine. Every day sees both an increase in passion as well as participant numbers and a decline in the overall scale of global hunger. This is what the One Meal a Day programme is truly about!

Seva at Construction Site
At two locations in the Middle East, volunteers gather on a weekly basis to provide their laborer brothers with fruits and juices. Given the cool weather, the team has now started serving fresh, hot homemade tea with biscuits. 
Seva by Youth
The youth of the Middle East got together to provide their laborer brothers with fresh oranges to help refresh them during their mid-day meal.

Yet another eventful month has come to an end. The volunteers of the region look forward to many more Seva opportunities in the upcoming months.
Seva at Ladies Camp
The women volunteers at the Ladies Camp took advantage of the pleasant weather to meditate. This helped the ladies relax and share a moment with each other. In the month of January, they were provided with tooth paste, sanitary napkins, washing powder along with weekly rations of lentils and rice.
Desert Seva
The Desert Seva is an initiative by a group of friends and family, for people living in remote areas in the Middle East without basic amenities to survive on a day-to-day basis. The group reaches out to 39 farmers living in over nine camps rearing desert livestock, growing crops and helping out in the homes of their Arab owners.

Not only does the group provide the farmers with clean drinking water, fresh food, monthly groceries, personal hygiene and basic household items but they also spend time talking and sharing tea and snacks with these people who are deserted amid the sand dunes with only animals for company and craving conversations with other fellow human beings. These 38 men and one lady, were eager to talk about their families back home, tearing up as they fondly remember their loved ones. Most of them come from rural agricultural backgrounds of Pakistan and Bangladesh and visit homes only once every two to five years.
They had left homes to provide better lives for their families and now work all throughout the year without rest, under drastic conditions of the desert for a meagre pay from which they cover their monthly expenses. During conversations with the group, some share cheerful stories of their children and grandchildren, while others talk affectionately about their young brothers and sisters. When one shares their longing to return to their home country and help their families in farming, another shares his ambition of setting up a small shop, timidly expressing his dream of starting a family of his own upon return. Amidst all this, our lone lady in the desert shares her joy in now being reunited with her husband working in the desert, after a wait of three long years. To her, the toil in the desert is all endurable at the prospect of being with her beloved!

Despite the hard-living conditions and the relentless struggles, it is all smiles and laughter that is portrayed on their faces upon every visit. This is very much different from the guarded and surprised looks on their faces at seeing women, children and so many people after a long time; when the group had first visited them seven months ago. Today they are all one family, sharing each other’s joy and sorrow. The whole experience has taught all of them that there is hope even in the barren lands of the desert; each visit bringing a shower of love into the parched hearts!

From the Heart
The youth team in Batticaloa started the New Year on a blissful note, as they seized the opportunity to serve in Swami’s Medical Clinic in Kirankulam. With much love and devotion, they worked vigorously under the blazing sun to assist in maintaining the garden and cleaning two main buildings. The youth also provided help during the hours of feeding the patients. They tended to the task enthusiastically, making sure everything was ready and everyone was deeply satisfied.
Although the work was strenuous, the youth ended the day with a wide smile and hearts filled with true happiness; a feeling beyond words!
Serving Those Who Serve
As the month rushed by, the youth were busy as ever preparing meals, snacks and refreshments for the government workers. Every other day, these workers toil away during the hours of noon, often on an empty stomach. Burnt and sweaty from being under the harsh sun, the trays of refreshments come as a hearty delight. The trays carry a variety of beverages and food; ranging from tea and coffee to different kinds of juices; from biscuits, cakes and sandwiches to traditional eats such as kokkis - a fried snack made out of rice flour, rice and curry and milk rice.

Just as distributing these offerings make an impact on the lives of the served, it also changes the lives of those who serve. These beautiful exchanges, although brief, often leave the youth with a feeling of gratitude and a deeper appreciation for the “smaller” things in life; even that of simply having a meal!
A New Chapter
Children need proper nutrients to ensure good health and steady growth and the best way to provide them is through a solid meal. The students of Mahinda College at Mirihana who come from underprivileged families, often lack the resources to have a healthy meal from home. Upon finding this, the youth have taken up the responsibility of financing breakfast to be served at the school. Every morning, a few mothers gather to cook a nutritious meal and distribute it among the enthusiastic students. This Seva marked a new chapter in their lives and the room was filled with the bliss of love, service and laughter!
“A small act of kindness, goes a long way”
Breakfast Seva in Nigeria
The volunteers offer their most humble Pranaams at the Divine Lotus Feet of their beloved Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. They hereby present Breakfast Seva activities carried out by Swami’s Special Grace in Lagos, Nigeria.
Ereko Methodist Primary School Lagos, Nigeria.

In addition to regular primary students, this school also caters for Children with Special Needs such as those with Learning Disabilities, Hearing Impairement and Intellectually Challenged ones.
The total strength of the students here is 259 (Regular – 200 and Special Needs – 59). Two Hundred and Fifty-nine Breakfast Packets were served to the Children and Teachers / Caretakers on one Thursday of January 2020. This was possible only with Swami’s Love and Grace.
Contents of the Food Bags served were: Biscuit packet, Yogurt Drink tetra pack, Cheese balls packet, Bread Loaf and a Packet of Sliced Cake.
A group of Swami's youth pack these essential items every Wednesday to help serve the school children and teachers. The youth thank Swami for using them as His Tools of Service!