Twice in one day!

Toulon is now the biggest program on the tour, with overflow crowds filling the stadium and more waiting outside to get in. They are orderly and disciplined, making crowd control easy. They are also a lighthearted dancing crowd who will be joyously dancing one minute and seriously meditating the next. The organization to produce this program is daunting and over 900 volunteers were on hand for hall set up, crowd control and security, darshan assisting, pot washing, veggie chopping, cooking and serving, cleaning, flower preparation and more. And their job was not over at the end of the huge Devi Bhava darshan.

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Amma came to the nearby ashram, Lou Paradou, to spend the night, and the whole group needed to be supplied with dinner that night and breakfast and lunch the next day. Dinner was efficiently served to around 300 people in a moonlight courtyard in the shadow of tall cypress trees. In the late morning sunlight, sitting behind a beautiful yellow leafed tree, and to the accompaniment of the sound of a rushing stream, Amma served lunch to even more people, including all the local volunteers who could come and the tour group. Before lunch, she gave a satsang which stressed the importance of focusing on spiritual practice right now and not waiting for a time in the future that may never come. This year’s “signature song” for special occasions seems to be “Mere Guruvan di wani”. (Listen to the words of the great masters. These words are sweeter than concentrated sugar syrup and at the same time thinner than water. These words are out of this world.” And indeed, as Amma sings these words, she seems to go out of this world and takes us with her. But Amma and the group had to come back to earth as it was time to go to Milano.
The camper had pulled up right next to where Amma was sitting, but Amma was not ready to board. She made a short tour of the garden and then walked behind the ashram along the river to the waterfall. Every year that she visits, she has made a beeline to the waterfall, enjoying the pristine river and water rushing over the falls. She then boarded the camper and the group helped the locals clean up before heading to the buses. The drive to Milano was spectacular with snowcapped mountains on the left and terraced hills marching to the sparkling blue sea on the right.
We arrived in Milano to the news that we should go straight to the dining hall as Amma was serving again! We were amazed that Amma was serving food to a huge group twice in one day. This was the first time her schedule had allowed her to serve a meal and sit with the local volunteers in Milano. The Italians could hardly believe they were getting this opportunity and wide smiles lit all faces. They began singing “Chamundaye” and “Shiva Shiva Shiva Shambo” to Amma as she passed the plates. Amma seemed to really enjoy this. When Amma had served everyone, they kept saying, “Grazie, grazie Amma” and she wished them “Bon Appetito!”
After dinner she sang again and had everyone clap hands with each other. The Italians really wholeheartedly participated in this and Amma stopped singing a couple of times, lost in delightedly looking at them. At the end, she fell into meditation, motionless, smiling, with her hands folded in prayer and everyone either gazed at her raptly or joined her in silent bliss. Then she walked to her room, stopping briefly to admire some giant pumpkins displayed in the dining room. For the volunteers and tour group, it was time to go back to work and prepare for next day’s program, when several thousand people in one of the largest crowds in Euorpe were expected to experience the bliss of darshan with Amma.

– Rta
Europe Yatra, 2014

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Our Doctors still make housecalls

Returning from Kashmir our Medical Team stopped at “Adopted Villages” in Jammu, Himachal Pradesh, and Harayana. The mood was quite different. The people know of Amma. They know we will return. The clinics were smaller and the doctors were able to take more time with each patient. Some even got to visit the villages. Wandering through our Himachal Pradesh village, Dr. Jaggu came upon this lady, obviously in distress.

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He applies old fashioned “doctoring”. A kind word. A gentle touch. And she is in smile. Sometimes that is all that is needed to lift a spirit.

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Dr. Jaggu Kottilil is Adl. General Manager at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences.

– Scotti

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Uttarkashi houses

Three years ago, a group of houses in the village of Siror, near Uttarkashi, began to slide into the Ganges.

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Families were given temporary shelters like the blue structure below, on the left. However, they were not scheduled for any further assistance to build better homes. Many would be living in these tin sheds for years to come.

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In June of this year, MAM began construction of fourteen permanent homes on stable farmland around this village.

Although the sites had no road access, after just five months the homes are within days of completion. Families are eager to move in, especially at this house which already has a garden, fence, and hay storage on the roof.

– Scotti

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Delivering Amma’s blankets

Unlike the Kashmiri Medical Relief Camps which involved 30 people, it was only Br. Amit and I who returned to Bandipora to distribute 3000 blankets. I was busy documenting the project, so the whole job fell on Br. Amit.

I write about him, not because he is exceptional in any way. Rather, he is a common example of those Brahmachari and Brahmacharini who Amma sends away from her with huge tasks like this. We in the west have no idea how hard they work for their beloved Amma.

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Swami Nijamrita bought good, heavy blankets. A whole truck load weighs several thousand kilos. Although we had local helpers, Br. Amit handled the majority of them, one at a time, delivering each with a smile.

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Probably more difficult was the task of coordinating our mission. District Commissioner Shah Faesel above, was especially helpful, but the logistics of,transportation, finding local help, and communication with village leaders was challenging.

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Following Amma’s example of nearly endless darshan, Br. Amit worked long hours, often continuing into darkness, without any sign of fatigue. He said “Amma gives us so much energy that we go beyond our normal mental and physical capabilities”.

Such is the life of those dedicated to Amma’s service.

– Scotti

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Breaking the Rules

I saw her early in the morning, a small, tentative woman. She would come close to the truck for a short while then retreat, afraid to have hope. I knew by her manner she would not be on the list for a blanket.

She tried to tell the list-makers ​to include her name also in the list ​ but all in vain.
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Sure enough, as we gave our final twenty blankets, she was still there
watching, knowing she would again be left behind. Br. Amit saw her too
and quietly found a way to slip her two blankets without drawing the attention
of the crowd.

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She examined her blankets with care, neatly folded them, and proudly walked away with a huge smile on her face.

​​I swear she stood four inches taller. ​Following “The List” has been very helpful so that we may deliver the maximum number of blankets in a reasonable amount of time, but some times we have to break some rules, especially in such cases.

– Scotti

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The List

You can not simply drive to a village with an open heart and start handing out blankets. It would cause a riot.
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Instead, we rely on “The List”, a hand written record of all the village families.
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Depending on the accuracy and integrity of the Panch (Village Mayor), his list will ensure a fair and reasonably orderly distribution as he calls out the names.
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Mata Amritanandamayi Math distributed three thousand blankets over three days.
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– Scotti

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The end of the road

It is the end of the road. The edge of nowhere. Vast marshland
receding into Wular Lake.

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Aid comes slowly, if at all to Baneyari. Nearly 10,000 people live
here, scraping a meager existence from the land and water.

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At first hostile as they thought we were government, but they soon warmed as they realized that someone such as Amma, all the way from Kerala cared about their problems and had sent them blankets which are desperately needed for the upcoming winter season.​

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About 1600 blankets were given to 800 families in Baneyari.

-Scotti

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