When God Gives
A hungry man sees God in the person who serves him food. A thirsty man feels blessed when offered water by a passerby. The poor, the needy, the helpless, the destitute all have the vision of God in their benefactors. But when God himself descends in human form to give, it would be a saga of pure, selfless love in action. We have been the spectators of that pure love in action for the past 85 years. 23rd November 2010 is the day when the globe will celebrate the 85th year of advent of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has emerged as a beacon of hope in a world that is desperately seeking an end to the unrest and sorrow prevalent today. His message of "Love All Serve All - Help Ever Hurt Never" is a spiritual salve that will lead mankind from the pain of darkness and ignorance and to the light and bliss of immortality. His numerous service projects: hospitals, schools and colleges, drinking water supply projects, or housing projects, stand testimony to His selfless love and compassion for the needy and less privileged. True to His declaration, "My Life is My Message", He has inspired and continues to inspire millions of His devotees worldwide by His personal example to live the ideal that "service to man is service to God." The Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization today has a presence in hundreds of nations in the world, and its members undertake any number of service activities that benefit their immediate community. And they do it selflessly and spontaneously.
Educare, Medicare and Socio-care form the core areas of service and Bhagavan graciously blessed the humanity at large with mammoth projects in all the three areas.


Educare:
Right from the beginning, Bhagavan stressed that Education is for life, not for a living. The education process that Bhagavan Baba has designed is for the blossoming of the child into a human with a character of nobility, compassion and love for mankind.The Sri Sathya Sai Schools, Institutes across the globe and the Schools and colleges at Prashanthi Nilayam, Ananthapur and Bangalore along with the deemed university are the edifices where transformation of young minds is achieved along with the transfer of the latest information in the academic world totally free of cost.


Medicare:
Bhagavan Baba's mission encompasses the physical, mental and spiritual welfare of all humanity. To this end, He has established medical institutions that provide quality healthcare irrespective of caste, creed and religion, in an atmosphere suffused with Divine Love and Peace. In these hospitals, all services including diagnosis, investigations, surgery, medicines, diet etc. are provided absolutely free of charge.

Despite recent advances in the field of medical sciences and technology, the prohibitive cost of healthcare, especially tertiary care, has taken many of these life-saving measures 'beyond the reach' of the common man. In response to this situation, Bhagavan founded the Sri Sathya Sai Medical Trust in September 1991 to set up super-specialty hospitals to provide quality Health Care at the tertiary level to needy patients totally free of cost.

The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences (super specialty hospital) was setup at Prasanthi Gram (about 9 km from Prasanthi Nilayam) with the departments of Cardiology, Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Urology and Ophthalmology under the auspices of the Sri Sathya Sai Medical Trust in November 1991 to demonstrate as an eye opener, that Health Care of the highest quality even in highly specialized fields can be provided totally free of cost. The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences (super specialty hospital), Whitefield located in Bangalore was set up in January 2001 with the departments of Cardiac sciences and Neuro-sciences. These super specialty hospitals at Prashanthi Gram and Bangalore provide excellent patient care facilities to all, free of cost. Most of the patients are from socially and economically weaker sections of society.


Socio care:
Roti, Kapda aur Makaan (Food, Clothes and Shelter) constitute the basic requirements of a human being. In the contemporary times, there are people for whom obtaining even these essentials of living is a distant dream. Moved by their suffering God decided to give them not just once or twice but on a regular basis.

It is a fact that life cannot exist forget survive without water. Pure drinking water, the elixir of life has become a scarce commodity. Rampant pollution by industries has contaminated our rivers and groundwater. An ever-burgeoning human population is depleting even the available water resources by being wasteful in its use. Man is staring in the face of a water crisis that perils his very existence.

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, through His multicrore Drinking Water Supply Projects, has shown a beleaguered humanity the way out of the crisis. Under His Divine guidance, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust has executed a number of projects that have brought this elixir of life into the parched throats of millions in Andhra Pradesh in Anantapur district in 1995, Medak and Mahabubnagar in 2001, the metropolitan city of Chennai in 2004 and in East Godavari and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh in the year 2007.

Every year, the students of Bhagavan's university and school, undertake the Grama Seva or village service programme. The students offer packets of food and clothes as Bhagavan's prasadam to every household in the villages they visit. Stationery items such as slates and pencil boxes are also distributed in the village schools. Every year more than a hundred villages are served under this programme.

On 24th July 2002, on the occasion of Gurupoornima, Bhagavan inaugurated the Sri Sathya Sai Deena Janoddharana Pathakamu, a scheme under which residential units were constructed to house the destitute and orphaned children belonging to the weaker sections of the society. Sixty children from various villages around Puttaparthi are now supported by this scheme. Rs.1 lakh has been deposited in the name of each child in addition to the free housing, food, clothing, education and other daily needs being provided. The residential units are located in a colony named Sri Sathya Sai Nagar in the village of Kammavaripalli behind the western perimeter of the ashram. A school also has been built here where the children are provided formal education and are also taught computer skills.

In January 2001, a devastating earthquake struck the town of Bhuj in Gujarat state. Many thousands were left homeless after the disaster. Bhagavan's Love and compassion reached out to the victims in the form of relief material that was sent in a convoy of 30 trucks flagged from Prasanthi Nilayam by Bhagavan Himself. About 1200 quintals of foodgrains, over a lakh pairs of new clothes, tents, blankets and household utensils were despatched to Bhuj and were distributed to the victims by Seva Dal volunteers.

In December 2004, tsunami waves overwhelmed coastal regions of Tamil Nadu after a massive earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, and left a trail of destruction in their wake. Nagapattinam District in Tamil Nadu was the worst affected in the disaster. Bhagavan rushed aid to affected villages in Nagapattinam District and the adjoining Union Territory of Pondicherry. The victims were provided with food grains, condiments, utensils, and new clothes so that they could get back on their own feet and start life afresh.

The Sri Sathya Sai Village Integrated Programme has its genesis from the infinite compassion of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba towards the poor, downtrodden, ignorant and innocent people living in the villages. On the auspicious day of Ugadi (Telugu New Year Day) 2007, Bhagavan announced the launch of a new service activity directed towards transformation of villages. After initiating and sustaining several service activities for the betterment of the poorer sections of our society, Bhagavan in his Ugadi message stressed the importance of holistic service activities directed towards upliftment of our villages. Bhagavan underscored the importance of an integrated approach to service for offering lasting and sustainable solutions to the various problems afflicting different sections of society. Following the divine guidance of Bhagavan the new holistic service activity was named Sri Sathya Sai Village Integrated Programme (SSSVIP).

The pilot project of the new programme was the villages in the agency area of East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh. The SSSVIP Programme in East Godavari District was envisaged to be undertaken in a phased manner, in the 212 villages covered by the Sri Sathya Sai Drinking Water Project (SSSDWP). 25 tribal villages in East Godavari District were selected to be covered under Phase-I. SSSVIP East Godavari was launched on 20th January 2008.

At the outset of the SSSVIP programme, a primary survey was conducted in 113 villages of the East Godavari District agency area and an extensive list of problems afflicting different aspects of the tribal populations' lives was prepared. This problem complex formed the basis for formulating the core areas of activity and proposed objectives under each core area. The areas of activity were formulated with an aim of bringing about holistic transformation of individual lives and community living, by attacking the root cause of the persistent problems. The eight core areas of activity are: Education Care, Medical Care, Agriculture Care, Infrastructure Care, Individual Care, Employment Care, Social Care and Spiritual Care.

During third week of September, 2008, a depression in the Bay of Bengal led to heavy rains & floods in coastal region of the state of Orissa in India. The embankments along the rivers Mahanadi, Brahmani and Baitarani were breached in many places thereby flooding more than 6,000 villages in 18 districts of the state leaving about 40 lakh (or 4 million) people homeless. The districts of Kendrapara, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Cuttack were the worst affected. Having robbed thousands of their houses, properties, livestock, and livelihoods, nature's fury left behind a trail of devastation and despondency of unseen magnitude in recent times in the country.

Meanwhile with Bhagavan Baba's blessings, the members of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations in Orissa and its neighbouring states rushed to their brethren in distress with food, clothing, medicines, and other relief materials. But Bhagavan Baba was not content with this. He was moved by the suffering of thousands of people who had been rendered homeless due to the recent floods in the state of Orissa and on 7th October 2008, the large gathering at Prashanthi Nilayam were informed of His decision to construct new concrete houses for them.

Having conducted surveys and finalized the plans, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, with the approval and cooperation of Government of Orissa commenced the Housing project on 30th November, 2008.

Though the blessed owners of these houses saw the edifice coming up brick by brick in front of their eyes, they could still not believe their good fortune. They were categorized as living below BPL (Below Poverty Line) and for generations together they had been living in huts and therefore owning a concrete house was beyond even their dreams. Overall, around 700 houses were constructed in 16 villages of three districts of Cuttack, Kendrapara and Puri, and handed over to the beneficiaries in a record time of less than a year!

At no point of time in the history, mankind had witnessed such magnanimous service activities. We are blessed to live as contemporaries of that time in history when Divinity himself chose to descend in flesh and blood as an incarnation of Pure Love. This Love has been only giving for the past 85 years and will continue to give because when Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba decides to give it is an ocean of grace, blessings and compassion.


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