Swiss Cheese in Switzerland

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Food is often mentioned in reports from the Europe tour and it’s unavoidable as there is so much excellent organic food, and sharing food is so much a part of the social life and culture of Europeans. Despite eating well, Europeans are not overweight as a group and are seen biking, walking and running regularly. There is a culture of fitness and it reflects in both young and old.

The tour staff is well nourished by the devotees who provide three meals a day to keep them going during the long program days. On this tour we have been treated to several donations from local food growing ashrams and devotees, like jams, olive oil and olives from the Spanish ashram, more jams and organic apples in Germany and here in Switzerland, along with nuts, syrups and jams, Swiss cheese donated from a dairy 5000 metres up in the mountains. It was really touching that they would send a big wheel of cheese produced with so much work and care, and the cheese was very delicious.

The program in Winterthur is in a very lovely location, next to river and under a small mountain. It was a nice chance to get some fresh air and enjoy the beauty of nature between programs. Balmy weather and an early arrival the day before the program saw most of the staff enjoying a chance to exercise and soak up some Vitamin D in the sun. Small kitchen gardens surround the hall where the program is held and the unusually warm autumn weather meant that many flowers and greens were still growing, along with the seasonal squash, pumpkins and cabbage.

We encountered some early morning gardeners and asked about their plots. It turns out that small pieces of land can be rented from the town for a nominal amount and the locals can grow their own flowers and vegetables as well as have a place to picnic. Many of them have constructed tiny huts, like playhouses, where they keep tools. They also collect the rain water from the roofs in barrels to use to water their gardens. They asked if we were from Amma and were interested when we told them how Amma is encouraging everyone to have kitchen gardens, grow organic produce and harvest rainwater. They then asked how they could meet Amma, something that hadn’t entered their minds before. It reminded us of how many routes Amma has created to form a relationship with her.

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The local volunteers and tour staff had an unexpected treat the night before the program when Amma made the surprise announcement that she would serve dinner. The kitchen scrambled to come up with something very quickly for many more people than expected to need dinner. We just had time to assemble before Amma arrived, beaming at everyone. She was shown a sample dinner plate and frowned, seeming to tell the cook it looked skimpy. He made a helpless gesture, like what can I do Amma. No time. However, people ran around and collected “donations” and more diverse items were added to the plate, like a small boiled potato, half a cookie, a cracker or a biscuit garnered from different stocks of provisions. Little Aikyam continued his adventures with potatoes as Amma peeled five small boiled potatoes one after another and fed them to him.
Amma asked for the usual spiritual jokes and stories and gave a short satsang on the importance of focusing on spiritual practices here and now and not procrastinating. She then sang “Guru Vani Vadi” and indeed how sweet are the Guru’s words. Refreshingly, there was complete silence at the end of the song and Amma sank into meditation along with roomful of people.

Amma also sang at the end of the second night of the program, an unexpected boon, as there is only one evening bhajan program in each city, as the first night is an all day and half the night continuous program and the final night is Devi Bhava. Some people at the very end of the darshan queue seemed to have very serious problems and perhaps that influenced Amma’s mood as she chose very deep and philosophical songs, rather than the rousing bhajans that are usually the evening finale.

Smiles mixed with tears as Devi Bhava ended. The sun looked like the moon shining through the thick mist that had descended into the little valley of Winterthur. After one last trip to the staff room for that Swiss cheese, bread, cucumbers and tomatoes for sandwiches, the group began the journey to Paris, where enthusiastic volunteers were preparing for the Sunday program that would be the biggest of the tour so far.

Rta S
Winterthur, Switzerland
Europe Yatra 2014

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Mobile Pharmacy in Jammu kashmir

Always working in cramped quarters, the pharmacy is our busiest department. Everyone is doing double duty as it is staffed by a dentist, veterinarian, nurse, doctor, and EMT. In addition to allopathic drugs, we are providing a large amount of nutritional support for both children and adults.

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The clinic shown above was held in a Shia Muslim prayer hall as the local hospital was flood damaged.

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Jayan (with mask) is our master traffic policeman, maintaining some order in the line.

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-Scotti

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Traffic jam in the mountains

The main road to Kashmir was closed for flood related repairs for three days creating a huge backup. Our medical convoy got stuck in a 75 km line of trucks.

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What should have been a five hour journey turned to the next camp turned into thirty hours. Stopped high in a mountain pass, it was 22 hours before our first meal.

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-Scotti

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Blossoming from the Quagmire

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An ill-fated lightening struck in the otherwise peaceful lives of the relatively educated and employed residents of Kedarnath. Huge landslides and floods ravaged everything they had ever possessed. Having experienced such a dreadful nightmare, a question arose in the minds of these hapless victims: “Will life ever be the same again?” However, in the presence of a mother’s care, need a child ever be worried?

To the shocked villagers of Kedarnath came a ray of hope from our beloved Amma. She took up the flood relief campaign, which includes building houses, scholarships to poor children etc – a well-structured relief package to rehabilitate their lives.

Ruchi Tiwari came all the way from Chunni, Uttarakhand, to be part of Amritavarsham61 to express her gratitude towards Amma. The wife of a priest, Ruchi lost her son in the floods. Although this is an irreparable loss, she is happy with Amma’s relief program vis-à-vis the materialistic condition of her life. Left with her two-year old daughter, she says “Bas abhi yehi aasha hai ki meri beti badi hokar Amma ka naam roshan kare”.

Rajkumar Tiwari, another flood victim from Uttarakhand, is present here to thank Amma for providing his family with a house. He admits that, when the relief package was announced, he actually did not believe that this promise would be kept. Of course, he was pleasantly surprised! Now, he takes a direct shot at the politicians: “Although it was the politicians’ duty, there was no response from them. However, I am amazed to see Amma standing by my side. Without Her support, we couldn’t have overcome this dreadful challenge.” From his experience, he says, “During disasters, even a father tends to put his son’s life at stake. But Amma was there holding my hand all the time during the crisis”.

Inder Singh Bisht is one amongst the survivors who saw his near and dear ones washed away in the floods. The aftermath of the disaster was so severe that now he is left with no shelter and is completely dependent on his friend. He approached Amma for rebuilding his house. Although Amma provided the money, he could not build the house as the soil had loosened due to landslides. Inderji told this problem to Amma. She suggested building it on an appropriate land unaffected by landslides. He points out the difference between political leaders and Amma: “We cannot even think of approaching these leaders! The question doesn’t arise. But, with Amma, we can directly approach Her and talk to Her with complete faith”

On the whole, with Amma’s grace, lives of these people in Uttarakhand are blossoming like lotuses and would, hopefully, grow to full bloom of happiness and peace again.

– Savita
26 Sep 2014, Amritapuri

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Compassion from the Bus

We closed our day at Sub District Hospital Magum and were loading people and supplies onto the buses.

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But the patients kept coming, following the doctors. Having too much compassion to say no, they continued to write prescriptions from the bus.
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Such is life on the road with the relief work.

-Scotti

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A precious gift to a mother from the Mother of Millions

16 Oct 2014, Bandipura, Jammu Kashmir

Sub district hospital at Bandipura was short of doctors the day we reached there. After a short meeting with the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Bilkis and other officials, our doctors started attending to the needy.

 

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Our Gynae doctors got an emergency call. It was a delivery case. The heart signal of the fetus was dipping. In the absence of a qualified doctor, this case would have been referred to Srinagar, which is about two hours drive from Bandipura. But luckily our doctors were there. Dr Deepti from our medical team, who is also a professor of Gynaecology, assisted by Dr Lipi performed the successful C-section surgery. Both the parents of the child, their families and the hospital staff were so happy to see the child. A new life was born and new ray of hope had dawned.
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Only a mother can experience the bliss of giving birth to a child. It is precious gift from God. We as children of Amma, who is Mother of Millions, felt blessed to be an instrument in delivering this precious gift of a new life to a would be mother in Kashmir.

– Amit

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Through the perilous twists and turns of the mountains

When our Telemedicine unit and ambulance unit arrived in Jammu, we were in Kashmir and came to know that the national highway had closed down for three days due to some bad road conditions. But where there is a will, there is a way. Few days before this, we had met a person (Sharma) who had offered to help in every possible way. At that time we did not realize the invisible helping hand of God, but next few days made us realize how every event in our life has a meaning and purpose. Sharma ji offered to personally escort both the units via an alternate route. With his car in front, meticulously guided the vehicle drivers through perilous twists and turns of the mountains.

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But it was not a simple ride especially because of the bad road conditions during night and big size of our Telemedicine and ambulance units of ours. On the way one of the vehicles had a breakdown. It was freezing cold. The drivers were finding it very hard to cope up with extreme conditions, especially because they were not carrying enough warm clothes. But Sharma ji not only encouraged the crew to muster up courage, but also went out of the way to the get the vehicle repaired. The road does not even have many outlets where one can satiate one’s hunger. Without much sleep and food, the crew drove for almost two days under harsh weather conditions to finally reach the place near our medical camp site. We welcomed them warmly, ensured that they were fed and then first thing they bought were some warm jackets.

Even though the drivers were exhausted, there was not even a single complaint from their side. They were equally motivated to serve affected people of Jammu & Kashmir, as any of us. Many of them had accompanied us earlier during our relief camps in Uttarakhand. These units have really been of great help in all our camps so far. Many people have benefited from free lab tests, ultrasounds etc. that are in the Telemedicine unit. The ambulance unit has also been of great help to give immediate emergency care to the needy.

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All of this could not have been possible without our team of dedicated drivers and technicians.

Later we came to know that Sharma ji was actually in Kashmir when floods had hit the valley, rescuing people from waters about fifteen feet deep. His optimism, cheerful nature and presence of mind is helping us throughout this mission.

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– Amit

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