Happy Diwali at Kulhama

Kulhama was another village devastated with floods in the Kasmir valley. As the team of our doctors arrived there, the smile on the people’s faces charged us up. A health sub centre at Kulhama was where we were asked to start the medical camp.

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Some local people offered their help for patient registrations. Soon the slips were being given out to patients.

There were no lights inside the rooms. Some corners were pitch dark. And the space was also quite cramped up. But everyone was so charged up that lack of outer lights and space hardly mattered.   Our doctors, paramedics and pharmacy guys immediately took to their tasks.

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As they say, where there is a will, there is a way. Our doctors used their mobile phones  to get some light for writing prescriptions and to examine the patients. I could see a sincere effort on their part to work without any complaints. I did not want to complain to the local authorities either, but I was concerned that doctors might feel tired examining patients and writing prescriptions under mobile phone light. Moreover the battery of the phones could also drain out. As I was thinking about Amma’s saying  – “When there is a sincere effort the grace follows”, suddenly a small girl appeared from nowhere and handed me a battery operated mobile light. For a moment I was stunned. I felt Amma heard my prayer. This little girl had a smile on her face, as if hinting Amma’s omniscience.

Soon the dark corners of the room were lit up with this gift of light. Now doctors could work with both hands, rather than having to hold their mobile torch lights with one hand.

Just like other places, the plight of the people in this village was deplorable. At the very least, all our doctors were making sure to share loving and caring words of solace along with the prescriptions, in order to soothe the aching hearts to some extent.

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As a token to their gratitude, the local people made some tea and offered it to all of us. Almost none of us was having the tea. Some did not even notice.  All of were too busy either with seeing the patients, dispensing medicines, managing the crowd and translating to local language. But after local people insisted on having the tea before it went cold, we had to oblige.
As we left Kulhama, it was getting darker. But within, all of us felt bathed in the light of Amma’s Love and compassion, a Happy Diwali.

 

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– Amit

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Bringing warmth on a cold night

Amma has sent thousands of blankets to Kashmir. Delayed in the same traffic jam that stopped our medical vehicles, they have just arrived as the weather is turning colder. District Magistrate Shah Faesal is directing us to more remote villages where people have received no aid at all.

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We pass large areas around Lake Wullar were crops have been severely damaged. After driving several kilometers along the top of a canal (I can’t really call it a road), we reached Zurimanz as the sun was setting.

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We feared a chaotic rush in the dark, but our local helpers were extremely organized with lists of the most needy families.
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Two blankets do not begin to erase the losses these people have faced, but tonight 163 families feel the touch of Amma’s infinite compassion.

– Scotti

 

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If it weren’t for Amma, I wouldn’t be here

Called the most glamorous city in the world, and famous for its sophisticated culture, residents of Paris lined up for hours to receive a quick hug from a spiritual teacher from a far away country, born in an obscure fishing village. Although many were coming for the first time, Amma didn’t seem to be unknown to them, perhaps due to the wide publicity she has gotten in France, such as the film Darshan and the publicity from her 3 ashrams in France. (The largest ashram is located in view of Chartres, one hour outside of Paris.) Information on the work of ETW was much sought after and many visitors were clearly astonished by the scope of Amma’s charitable work, her educational network and the amazing organization of this huge program, where people had no difficulty spending the hours waiting for darshan entertaining themselves by scanning the bookstore, eating a crepe or a masala dosa and watching one of the many video displays, on Amma and her work. Many people came up to our table expressing a strong desire to “do something”, so motivated were they by hearing about Amma’s wide range of charitable activities. They were equally interested in meditating and archana. Despite the many chances for socializing, the gregarious French were often seen in deep introspection, meditating on stage or on their chairs, sitting in a corner reading an Amma book or mesmerized by watching Amma give darshan on the big overhead screen.

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Local musicians offered a variety of musical fare and one young man was particularly noticeable. Amma often asks him to play his trumpet and gives him sweet attention. We spoke to Etienne Ravaud after his set and he graciously told us about his experiences. He was lucky to meet Amma when he was only 8 years old and always comes to her programs in France and around Europe. His parents also come every year and make delicious pizza during the program. He formerly played the clarinet and saxophone and planned a career as a music teacher. However, three years ago a hit and run driver smashed him into a wall and seriously injured him. He lost the use of his right arm and hand and could no longer play the clarinet.

We asked him if Amma had said anything to him after the accident. He said that she didn’t say much, but she gave him an unforgettable look. It was a look of such compassion, love and understanding along with some other indescribable energies, that his life was transformed. He said that before the accident, he didn’t think that either he or his life was worth much. But after that look he changed, and somehow had the enthusiasm and confidence to revise his life plan. He changed careers, became a computer technician and switched his instrument to the trumpet, which he could play with one hand. Despite being in chronic pain, he aims to maintain a smile on his face. In fact, this young man is like a walking satsang of Amma’s teachings of enthusiasm, persistence, self-confidence, patience and experiencing the joy of life in all circumstances. Having met Amma at such a young age, we asked him if he could summarize the impact of Amma on his life. He simply said, “If it weren’t for Amma being here, I would no longer be here.”

A highlight of the evening program was the speech by European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Martine Reicherts. She was onstage with Amma to launch Maisons Seniors, ETW’s first elder care home in Europe. She said that before meeting Amma she had struggled with how to merge her spiritual life and her life in the world as a politician. After meeting Amma, she saw that the two are not different and that she could also find a place for compassion and heart in her meteoric rise to her current position. Actress Helene De Fougerolles, a special guest at the program, also expressed her appreciation for Amma. She concluded her speech to a huge ovation by thanking Amma existing on the planet and being there in Paris.

As usual, the Paris Devi Bhava continued until late the next morning. One memorable moment among many was watching Amma give mantras to the hearing impaired. Amma was so expert in how to clearly mouth each word, like a professional teacher of the deaf, that they could clearly understand her, without the need of the interpreter in sign language standing nearby. Amma was so happy to see them, they were so happy to see Amma and receive the mantra, that the joy was palpable. Hearing impaired people are seen at Amma’s programs around the world and are given special seating and arrangements to be sure they can understand Amma’s satsangs, bhajans and receive her darshan.

Amma had to give rapid darshan, but at the end she spent so much time with the ceremonies, acting as if she had all the time in the world, even letting the babies play with her garland and kissing them again and again. The tireless volunteers continued cooking, cleaning, and organizing the crowd until the curtain fell. At that moment, out of the previous 25 hours, Amma had been with us for 21.5! The petal drenched crowd waited silently for Amma to emerge and smile at them one more time before walking to her camper. However, the silence was broken by a Downe’s Syndrome boy who has been coming to Amma since he was a toddler. He was crying out, “Amma, dépêche toi!” (Amma, hurry up!) He couldn’t bear the wait without seeing her. And so it is with Amma, no matter how much we are with her, the experience is ever fresh and we want more. Such is the nature of pure divine love.

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While we waited, the organizers announced that it was Divali, a festival that celebrates the victory of light over darkness. Usually charming small clay lamps are lit to symbolize this victory, but here fire regulations did not permit this. So, it was suggested that everyone who had mobiles, use the flashlight function to symbolize the light within by showing the light without. When Amma came out, she was surprised and happy to see all the lights waving in the hall. Then she led all in chanting Lokaha samastaha sukino bavantu before leading the final chants of Mata Rani ki jai! At Amma’s camper, lamps spelled out Happy Divali in Malayalam, however, happiness had a sad edge as Amma pulled away. Yet there was not time to indulge in sadness, as Amma’s army of volunteers needed to go into action to pack the hall. With amazing speed and organization, as well as a lot of laughter, within an hour, the majority of the hall was packed, although it would take a few more hours to finish every detail. It can’t be repeated too often how amazing it is to see the group and local volunteers arrive and the program arrangements rise up like a mushroom overnight and then dissolve 3 days later. The staff said farewell to new and old Parisian friends, packed a lunch which included pizza made by Etienne’s parents and then the caravan rolled toward the canals and windmills of Holland.

Rta S.
Paris, Europe Yatra 2014

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Our Mother Tounge is Love

While some of our doctors started seeing patients in Sub district hospital, others were directed to Primary Health Center in Ashtangoo. After an hour of drive, the team went through an uphill trek. Our team of doctors started patient diagnosis and disbursing the medicines. Soon we were directed to another area in plains – Ashtangoo ghat.

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When we arrived in Ashtangoo ghat, we saw a flock of people already waiting. Someone from the village offered their house for our medical camp. Soon the pharmacy table was setup for dispensing the free medicines.

None of our doctors except Dr Puneet could speak Kashmiri. But even he was struggling to speak in Kashmiri because he has been away from Kashmir for long now.

And I have to confess that though I hail from Kashmir, I too was finding it little difficult to translate things to Kashmiri. Even though most of our staff could speak hindi, not all local people could understand hindi.

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Everyone of us was putting their maximum effort in trying to communicate as best as possible. Soon some local ladies offered their help in translating. And that really helped a lot.
One of the mothers brought one small child who had a burnt leg. Soon after the first aid was applied and medicines provided, the child’s crying face turned serene. More than the child, the Mother seemed happier.

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In addition to our prescriptions and diagnosis, it was the caring words that were healing the wounds much more effectively. Even though initially it seemed somewhat difficult, but soon the barrier of language disappeared. The breeze of love removed the clouds of language barrier. The fact that Love knows no boundaries, just got more obvious.

Isn’t it quite amazing how people from so many different countries, speaking so many different languages are able to connect to Amma just like a child connects to its mother – without any formal language!

All of us realized that our only real mother tongue is Love, and where there is love, language is not a barrier.

At the end of the day we all felt deep satisfaction in being able to light some lamps of happiness. It was drizzling, and getting colder. But inside we felt warmth of Amma’s hug.

– Amit

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Kashmiri Nurses

Throughout Kashmir, we have been assisted by wonderful local volunteers. Few patients speak Hindi, so there is nearly always someone sitting with each doctor, translating to Urdu. They also help speed the flow at the pharmacy, where proper instructions are essential.

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At Community Health Center Magam, a cadre of nurses took a more active role. They obviously enjoyed working side by side with our lady doctors and took full advantage of the opportunity.

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Doctor Lipi is showing a group the A.I.M.S. Intensive Care Ambulance.

-Scotti

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Mobile Telemedicine Unit

The medical team in Jammu Kashmir with the Tele Medicine unit

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I have shown you earlier the blood testing that is done in the Mobile TeleMedicine Bus non stop during each Medical Camp.

EKG Heart Testing

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Packed in the same small space are many other diagnostic capabilities including:
Ultra Sound scanning for kidney stones.
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Dr. Maddipati would have technicians to do these tests for him at A.I.M.S., but here he performs his own scan.

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-Scotti

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Cow whisperers in Kashmir

Although he spends most of his time working in the pharmacy, Dr. Ratish is also our staff veterinarian. Many animals were lost in the floods and far more are severely stressed. A few find their way to our medical camps where expert help is provided.

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Seva with Amma transports us out of our personal comfort zones into a world of new possibilities. Our General Surgeon, Dr. Yuvaraj, is used to a sterile operating room. But here he gives his first B12 injection to a cow, while being very cautious not to get kicked.

-Scotti

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