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Inspiring Service in Chile
This story began while I was seated next to my wife Jai Gopal during a Kundalini Yoga Teacher Gathering in 2005.
Guru Darshan and Simrit had started the work of Langar Chile (serving our society's least protected people out on the street) and they were looking for volunteers to help them. Personally, I had thought about similar ideas in the past, but they had always remained only that: ideas.
So I began going out with them every Thursday evening. Each one of us would prepare a pot of food. When I had my first contact with this experience I was very impressed by the way in which some people live their lives, deeply sunken into material and emotional poverty.
The pots were quickly emptied out, and more food was still needed. After our service was done I was left with a feeling o lightness and joy which was unusual in my daily life. Being an instrument for something higher and working for others started to shift things inside me, and this led to connecting with a part of me which I wasn't previously aware of.
I had always dedicated all my energy to my own affairs: career, family and hobbies.
At that moment I made a pact with God. I told him I would make part of my energy available to him, just as I did for my job.
I live in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile, surrounded by lots of nature. I was immediately put to the test. As I was walking on a rocky path I found a man lying across my way. At first I thought he might be dead and my first reaction was to walk on, but the voice of my consciousness made go back to him.
The man was prfoundly asleep in a drunken stupor. I tried to raise him and asked him where he lived. I took him to his home. Again I was deeply impressed, for this person lived in the middle of a field, on a matress overhung by a piece of canvas supported on four sticks. It was the depth of winter, so I gave him my tent. This situation made me realise that service was not only something for Thursday evenings, but instead something I would meet at every step.
My wife, Jai Gopal, told me that close to home, in the village of Batuco, a group of village women were cooking common pots of food for elderly people who had been rejected by their families and were exposed. I could feel the spirit of service pulsating within me like the first time I dated someone, bringing me to this situation. I met these heroic women serving in this way. Next to them, I was but a baby in his cradle, and today i continue feeling the same way.
This villagers live in the same precarious conditions as the rest, but their spirit of service pushes them to start cooking every day at 7 AM, not to finish until aroung 3 PM. A vehicle then drives the food from house to house. At first we used my car, then we started paying someone, and finally we talked the local authorities into supporting us with a vehicle, which they continue to do to this day.
This project serves 90 elderly people under the name of “Senior Citizen Program”, and currently involves our team together with the town hall and Christ's Home, which provides the facilities to prepare the meals.
Please forgive me if the tale is running rather long up to this point.
When I realised that my own resources were not enough and more were needed, I had the idea of bringing it up to the Union meeting I had that day (I work as an airline pilot for LAN) and asking my colleagues for help. If truth be told, my first thought was I would be exposing myself in front of everyone, and what would they make of me. A voice said: “what others think about you is not important, what matters is that the people receive what they need.”
The Union President gave me the room at the end of the meeting, and I felt really nervous. I put myself in the hands of God and asked him to guide my words. I started out by thanking them for their time. I showed them pictures of our service project and told them: “Esteemed colleagues, we all know that our Union works to seek more benefits for all of us together as a single block. The pictures I showed you just now show a reality which is totally different from the one we all live in, especially now as we're about to be served an excellent meal. Out there it's raining and cold. Many people carve out a hard, difficult existence in the midst of poverty and hopelessness. I want to invite you all to the most beautiful journey a human being can undertake – to give a small part of him or herself to benefit others. It's not enough to be good once and then say you're good. Really good help is like a drop of water which falls constantly until it bores a hole through the rock. Drop by drop.”
“Let us be a Union which takes and also gives. I commit to undertaking these projects on behalf of you all and to be accountable for all the money that is donated. If you agree, together with my friends from Langar, and those from Batuco village, we'll be a blessed hand that continuously reaches out to helpless people.”
They all agreed and each person gave between 2 and 4 US dollars.
We've been working with Unions since 2006, receiving about US$ 1,300 every month, which yields a grand total of US$ 109,200 to this date.
Some pilots and their families have joined us for a while in these service projects, and so it has been a great opportunity for all. I've always felt very sopported by them, economically as well as with their trust. In order to continue having it I've been very transparent in my account-keeping on behalf of the Union, keeping them informed via internet. In this way they can see their money yielding the expected result.
Two years ago I decided to begin supporting children with mental and physical disabilities, and so we now cover three groups of people: homeless, elderly and children.
To summarize, it all starts when you ask yourself the question “how can I help?” Don't worry. The Universel will be sure to bring the situation to you. Your task is to remain alert and follow your inner voice, no matter whether you're good or not, or what others think about you. Many times I've failed to be constant. And every time I told myself: my commitment with God is to continue the work, creating bridges with my Union and sending those resources where they're most needed.
I've had the great opportunity to meet many people devoted to their service through Langar, Batuco village and the Home for Children, who inspire me to keep up.
I feel that we can all lead a normal life, but if we can give a little piece of our lives to use our energy and make it available to God to do His will on Earth as in Heaven, serving with every step, with a smile and a soul pure as a child's, we shall then take hope and love to the places where they're most needed, leading all by the hand to our true Home and living values such as nobility of heart, humility and selfless love.
In order to end this, I wish to thank all the people we were able to help all together, since by playing that role, they allowed us to experience these values within ourselves, helping us to be better people.
Guru Nishan Singh