Manas seva or service to humanity is an integral part of all pujas. This is expressed by the preparation and serving of meals to guests. Many families perform seva by reaching out to poorer relatives or needy families in their neighborhoods. Still, others may go to an orphans’ home or a home for the elderly and make a donation of cash or food.
While all this is commendable it is critical that professional seva bodies be established with trained and dedicated volunteers to reach out to those who have fallen through the cracks. If such bodies are in existence the poverty that we encounter daily would go out of sight.
I want to commend Seva TT for the work they are doing. Led by Revan Teelucksingh, Seva TT and its scores of volunteers have teamed up with the Supermarkets’ Association and the Manufacturers’ Association to administer the vaccines. Through this forum, thousands have received the vaccines.
Does Seva TT have that capacity to fill this much-needed void? I think they have the will to do so and they have demonstrated it many times when the need arises. In the several floods in many parts of the country, Seva TT was always on the forefront wading through waist height water to bring relief supplies and hot meals to affected families. Its medical outreach in rural communities and blood drives are ample evidence that the volunteers of this movement care for humanity.
This Covid spike has snatched away several of our beloved citizens- family members, neighbors, and friends- and have left us both bewildered and humbled. It is not just the old and feeble and those with comorbidities that died but also our able-bodied adults. This calamity has exposed the raw underbelly of our society.
The work that has to be done is much. While it began with individual efforts it can only be continued with collective responses. In this way, the community would be able to raise the resources and personnel to get the task at hand done.
An organization is supposed to have a longer existence than any individual. While an individual may be able to serve for thirty to forty years, an organization can go on and on. Many individuals whom I knew have been very generous toward the poor are either dead or human derelict. Their spouse and children who inherited their wealth are not interested in preserving their legacy.
I do not subscribe to a culture of dependency. Nevertheless, the poor are always going to be amongst us and it is a reality that we must come to accept. All the saints and sages have demonstrated through their actions their love for the poor. Swami Vivekananda said one should not say ‘here you poor man, take this’ but feel ‘privileged and honored’ that one is given the opportunity to serve. This explains why Indians are not in the habit of saying ‘thank you,’ when they are served.
With the collapse of our economy and the thousand without jobs and incomes, it is now more than ever that we become alert to the needs of the poor. Our individual $20 note in our hand may not be much but if pooled can do wonders! We need to ride through this rough wave of economic recession and must always remember that we are only safe in our numbers, not in the wealth we accumulated and our professional qualifications.