|Volume 4 - Issue 09 SEPTEMBER 2006||
IMMEASURABLE SERVICE IN A MENTAL HOSPITAL, VISHAKAPATNAM
- How the Sai Youth befriend the miserable and the forsaken
They found that many of the patients had been rejected by their families and communities. The Sai youth realized that the inmates of the hospital had so many needs to be met and were in such a pitiable plight that the situation called for a multitude of service activities. Thus, you can imagine how overjoyed the patients felt when the young men and women came every Sunday to clothe them, feed them, clean their rooms and plates, sing bhajans to them and most importantly of all befriend them.
“My Heart Becomes Light And Peaceful when Sai Youth Talk To Me” - Mr. Aluri Nagendra Raju
One of the patients, Mr. Aluri Nagendra Raju, who is 25 years old, was recently interviewed for Heart2Heart:
Q: What do you plan to do when you go out from here?
Mr. Raju: I will complete my MBA. I will do Bhajans not only at home but I would like to organize Bhajan sessions whenever there is encouragement and opportunity for that. I will go to Puttaparthi to see Sai Baba who has given me all this happiness. I will also ask my parents to go with me.
You can sense Aluri Nagendra Raju’s joy that there are people who care for him and are prepared to give up their Sunday to be with him and share his pain - and his profound gratitude to Bhagavan who is the inspirer for all this work.
Back in the days when the youth first began the seva, the hospital had to run on meager funds. The food that was served was of low quality and the wards were not cleaned properly. The Sai youth concentrated first on the care of the patients: bathing them, combing their hair, and in the case of women patients the ladies Seva Dal would remove any lice, and dress them properly and so on.
Since that time the youth have been working very hard to make a difference in the lives of the patients. They distribute food in the form of pulihora, curdrice, payasam and vegatable pulav. Every Sunday 50 kgs of curd rice is served to all the patients and on the 19th of every month i.e. 'Saktiswaroopini day' Mahila Seva Dal members distribute sweets to all the patients.
Every week the Sai youth give all the patients a head-bath with a coconut oil massage; they cut the patients’ nails and apply soothing lotions for those who are suffering from skin allergies. The seva dals also clean plates and vessels and wash any dirty clothes. They teach the patients to sing Bhajans and as a result Nama Sankeertan has become very popular. The Sai youth have also worked alongside the patients in a garden project, planting saplings in the rainy season to beautify the hospital environment.
The Sai Youth visit the patients and treat them with love and care in a situation where visits to the hospital by the patients’ relatives are almost non-existent. This taboo is born out of fear and ignorance, but as we read from the following interview, this isolation only serves to make the patients’ condition worse. Such is the situation of Smt. Ramanamma who is 45 years old and who shared her feelings with Heart2Heart.
Q. Why did you join this hospital?
A. My husband is a drunkard. He does not look after me at all and I became mentally unwell. He has put me here.
Q. Does he come to visit you?
A. Not at all – not even my parents come here. They have all left me alone! (cries).
Q. Amma, have faith in God and pray. Don’t lose heart.
A. You are right. Your Sathya Sai devotees have become my kith and kin. They enquire about my health and well-being every week. That is how I am getting by. Kindly carry on with this help and ask my family to look after me.
Q. We will definitely help you. Our boys shall visit your home and convince them to come and see you.
“When The Sai Youth Leave, They Keep Asking When They Will Come Again” – Nurse Teresa
Apart from benefiting the patients immensely, another dimension in which the work of Sai Youth has yielded great dividends is the encouraging impact of their work on the hospital staff. This is evident from what nurse Theresa, a trained nurse of 6 years service, tells Heart2Heart.
Q. What do you know of the services being rendered by the Sathya Sai youth wing.
Nurse Theresa: I know it very well and ever since I joined I have noticed the service of the Sathya Sai youth wing with great interest. They come every Sunday and bring such things as soap, biscuits, food, vessels, plates, coconut oil, nailcutters and combs. They first bathe the patients, clean any eczema and other skin diseases and apply ointments. They cut the patients’ nails whenever necessary. They apply coconut oil to their hair and provide them with sumptuous food such as tamarind rice, pulav, and curd rice. They also sing bhajans with the patients joining in, distribute Baba’s photos and vibuthi. They also help us in cleaning the toilets and wards if it is necessary.
Q. What do you think of the seva offered by them and the affect on the patients?
Nurse Theresa: They feel very happy when the Sai youth come and sing with them. They relish the food served by them and enjoy the services. I can say from my heart that that the services rendered by the Sai Youth are of superior quality. The patients are very happy and active and join the Sai youth in bhajans. When the Sai youth leave they keep on asking whether they will come again tomorrow.
There are a lot of benefits - in some cases the patients get cured early. Some patients get cured and wait for their relatives to come and take them back to their houses. But in some cases, their relatives do not turn up and so the patients become sad waiting for them. In such cases the Sai youth get them discharged from the hospital and give them personal assistance to get back to their native place. They safely hand them to their relatives bearing all the expenditure - that is very much moving. One more thing: some service organizations distribute fruits in the hospital, but what the Sathya Sai devotees do is real service.
Q. What is the response of the patients to the services of the Sai Youth?
Dr Rao: Each patient will be with us for about a month and their response depends upon the stage in which they are. The patients are happy and the impact is very good. The Sai Youth render service with very good feelings. They wash their clothes, give them baths, talk to them, conduct bhajans, give them good food and prasad. All this has a very good effect on the patients. More than the patients, there is a very good impact on our staff. I like this impact on our staff. I fully appreciate the services rendered by Sai Youth. The patients are extremely happy with the way they are treated.
The Sai Youth are a source of inspiration to us. I sincerely wish that the Sai Youth should extend their services and think in terms of long term projects, particularly rehabilitation projects. I may tell you here that some families want to get rid of their patients. They give wrong addresses and they don't come (to visit). Some patients are stuck up here for months and years. The Sai youth have taken upon themselves the responsibility of taking home these patients who have recovered, by meeting their to and fro charges. The love and affection shown by the Sai youth is immeasurable.
This article celebrates 10 years of service to the mentally ill by the Sai youth. Swami tells us “Be Happy” and we are blessed with His love in so many ways so that our happiness is easy to grasp. Yet there are so many who are lacking in an inner sense of peace and who need the touch of Sai in their lives. We hope you, dear reader, can feel a sense of joy at this very necessary seva. Yet don’t let it stop there: please send us similar accounts of service in the area of mental health; or feel inspired to go out there and find those in need and make a difference.
– Heart2Heart Team
We are grateful to Mr. G K P Mukunda Rao and Sri M S Prakash Rao for their active support and help in the making of this article.
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Vol 4 Issue 09 - SEPTEMBER 2006
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