In January 2001, a devastating earthquake struck the town of Bhuj in Gujarat state. Many thousands were left homeless after the disaster. Bhagawan’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 Bhagawan 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.
There are times in our lives when all hope is lost, there is no one to turn to and nothing to live for. And then God comes into our lives, like the first raindrop on the desert sands, like fresh air to one gasping for breath. The tsunami tides that struck the Indian coast was a disaster that washed away hopes more than it washed away houses, that ruined as many lives as it took. But we have the living and loving God, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the lighthouse to minds lost in the wild seas of sorrow.
The tsunami waves that struck South Asia on 26th December 2004 affected thousands and created enormous damage to life and property. Soon after the disaster, as the survivors struggled to recover from the blow Nature had dealt them, Bhagawan’s limitless compassion flowed to them in the form of dedicated service by the volunteers of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization, Tamil Nadu. Hundreds of volunteers organized themselves into teams and fanned out into the different areas where damage had been caused. The top priority was to extricate the corpses tangled in the rubble and suitably dispose them so that epidemics could be prevented. Food and basic amenities too had to be arranged for the survivors.
Of all the affected areas in Tamil Nadu, Nagapattinam District bore the maximum brunt of the tsunami. The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, under the Divine guidance of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, rushed relief to the villages of Serudhoor, Akkaraipettai, Keechankuppam, Kallar, Olakottaimedu and Thoduvai that were the worst affected in Nagapattinam District. Provisions, utensils, stoves, clothes and other basic items required to restore life back to normalcy, were procured and packed into cartons. Seva Dal volunteers worked day and night procuring, packing and transporting these materials. The cartons were transported from Chennai to the relief operations base camp near Nagapattinam. Simultaneously, another group of volunteers were engaged in the distribution of these cartons to more than 5000 families in Nagapattinam District and Pondicherry. Needless to say, the Seva Dal volunteers performed the entire task in a spirit of selfless love and dedication. They consoled the distressed, reassured them and gave them the courage and hope to start their lives afresh putting the tragedy behind them.
Relief materials arranged to be sent to survivors
Trucks arriving from Chennai with the relief material
In one of the villages, as the supplies were getting exhausted at the end of the day, a villager was heard assuring his fellowmen that there was no need to worry as the Sai volunteers would definitely bring more supplies the next day and continue the relief work. Instances like these are a testimony to the confidence that these volunteers inspired in the hearts of these people by the dedication and commitment with which they served. The district administration also commended the well-organized and orderly way in which the materials were distributed.
It was a touching experience for the volunteers as they saw the affected people help each other rebuild their lives, cutting across barriers of caste, creed and socio-economic status. In a village, one of the villagers requested that the materials be distributed in the neighboring village too as no relief had yet reached that village. At a time when one would expect them to be anxious about their own welfare, it was moving to see the feelings of love and concern they had for their brethren in distress. Truly, Bhagawan’s cardinal teaching of ‘Brotherhood of Man and Fatherhood of God’ was being translated into action by these innocent village folk.
Relief operations being conducted by Sai volunteers
Receiving Bhagawan's gifts of Grace
It was not the villagers alone who benefited from the exercise, but also the volunteers who found the experience an inspiring one. The villagers were often heard to say that God is their sole refuge and He would definitely take care of their lives. To encounter such strong faith in God among these rural folk was a reminder of the deep spiritual moorings of the people of this country. They did not consider it as mere relief material but as consecrated gifts of Grace from God Himself who had come to their aid in their time of distress. One is reminded of the words of a song that is often sung in Bhagawan’s presence:
“There is someone above to comfort me
There is someone above to show me the way
There is Swami to guide me
There is someone above to care
And it’s Love, Love all the way...”