Christmas Service Offering – ACT

The ACT Region for the past five years has been singing carols at IRT Kangara Waters Nursing Home in Belconnen as its key service offering during the Christmas festivities. IRT Kangara Waters Nursing Home, situated on the tranquil shores of Lake Ginninderra, has been designed to create a sense of community, while giving the elderly every opportunity to live a peaceful, healthy life. This service offering took place for the 6th year on 14 December 2019.

Around 20 Sai followers, predominantly from the Young Adults, Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) students and their parents, and SSE teachers of the ACT Region sang carols at this nursing home. These singers were ably supported on the piano by Sahana, an SSE student. Carols sung included well-known carols such as ‘Away in a Manger’, ‘Deck the Halls’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Go tell it on the Mountain, ‘Drummer Boy’ and ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’. The carol singing was wrapped up with a solo piano recital by Sahana. Approximately 20 elderly residents attended the carol singing. Some of these residents clapped their hands and joined in the singing, while the vast majority listened to the singing appreciatively. The residents expressed happiness in being able to hear traditional carols that once used to be sung in their homes. The Sai followers mingled with residents by greeting each one of them, wishing them a Holy Christmas and distributing light refreshments.

This yearly service activity enables the Sai followers of the ACT Region to share their love and connect with the elderly citizens via carol singing in the true spirit of Christmas.

This activity also encapsulates Sathya Sai Baba’s messages during Christmas that every man is a messenger of God and this message calls for service with selfless love being the corner stone. Sathya Baba further states “In the Bible it is recorded that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Concerned about this, His disciples enquired what He was doing. Jesus answered I am washing your feet as your servant, so you may learn to serve the world” (Sai Speaks Vol. 17, 25/12/1984). The message Jesus gave was through His actions. He demonstrated to others His role as servant of mankind.

Dedication of a sculpture encapsulating ‘Oneness’ and the ‘Human Values’

On 7 November 2019 Dr Naren Chellappah OAM, a longstanding member of the Australian Sathya Sai community, and a recipient of the Sai Lion award at the recent SNC 2019, donated a sculpture titled ‘ONE’ to the University of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory.

The sculpture was officially unveiled by the university’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Deep Saini, during a dedication ceremony on the lawns of the main university concourse and in front of an audience of approximately 80 people, including Zone 3 Chairperson, Neville Fredericks and Australia’s National President, Singanayagam Indrapalan from the SSIO, university faculty members and members of the public from various faiths.

Dr Chellappah, arising from his love for his adopted city, Canberra, wanted to donate an inspiring work that reflected the inherent human values he holds dear and which were promoted by Sathya Sai Baba; Love, Truth, Right Conduct, Peace and Non-violence. He envisaged this as a gift from the whole “Sai Community” who are engaged in living lives that reflect these values along with practicing selfless service to their communities.

Dr Chellappah delivered a heartfelt speech on the vision behind the sculpture. Amongst other things he said, ‘The structure, “One,” is on a base which has the human values for life that I was taught – Truth, Right Conduct, Love, Peace and Non-violence – written over a background of Aboriginal motifs. This is to acknowledge and respect the timeless Aboriginal presence here. Upon that foundation…Australia, was established, as ONE harmonious entity made up of people of differing countries of origin, race, colour, religion and political beliefs and so on, living together in peace.’

Installed adjacent to the main concourse of the University, the artwork has transformed the area into a space for reflection and contemplation. The large sculpture stands 5 metres tall, made out of stainless steel. Its mirrored exterior reflects the viewer, encouraging them to feel that they are part of the structure, evoking the sense of Oneness. The inside of the structure is a deep red to signify that under the surface, all beings are the same, whilst also reflecting the rich red earth of much of the Australian landscape.

Dr Chellappah expressed his warm feelings for his adoptive home and country and emphasised Sai Baba’s teaching of the unity of all beings and his hopes that this piece of public art will serve as a reminder of the underlying oneness of all humanity.

‘I feel this is my and (my family’s) home and it is a sense of oneness we feel with everyone and everything else in this city, in this country, our home.’

Dr Chellappah noted that university students have enquiring minds. It is his hope that exposure to the structure and what it represents will inspire them to attain their life goals with positive principles based on the values. It is also his intention that the space will provide an area for quiet contemplation where students and others can think about transcending the egotistic concepts of I and mine, towards a broader vision of ‘We’ and the undeniable oneness of all creation as taught by Sathya Sai Baba.

Lining the pathway to the sculpture stand two concrete walls upon which the 5 human values and the words “Seek Aspire Inspire” are inscribed. Dr Chellappah explained the rationale for the inclusion of these words as he addressed those present.

“S”Seek one’s goal in life whether of a spiritual or secular nature. “A”Aspire with principles such as truth, love, peace, non-violence and right conduct. And ‘‘I”Inspire others thereby.’

‘So, Think, “SAI” – Seek, Aspire, Inspire.’ Dr Chellappah concluded, to a resounding applause.

Dr Chellappah’s donation is a wonderful promptor of Sai Baba’s teachings, and serve as an excellent example of how His universal messages of Unity and Love can be shared with and appreciated by the wider community.

R U OK? Barbara Hocking Memorial Award

The SSIO in the Canberra region was recognised as a finalist for the R U OK? Barbara Hocking Memorial Award, acknowledging the work of members in the area of mental health. Below is a statement from the website explaining the background of the award:

The Barbara Hocking Memorial Awards aim to:

  • Recognise and celebrate the people and organisations who have made an outstanding effort to support R U OK? in their community
  • Inspire others to support R U OK?
  • Encourage others to have regular meaningful conversations and invest more time in the people around them
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    Barbara Hocking OAM (d. 2016) was one of Australia's leading advocates for people affected by mental illness. Her leadership and achievements leave a lasting legacy in how people living with mental illness and their families are treated and regarded. Barbara was the first full-time Executive-Director of SANE Australia - a national charity working for a better life for all people affected by mental illness through education and support, applied research and campaigning for improved services and attitudes. As well as being a Director of SANE Australia, she also served on the Board of Mental Health Australia and R U OK?

    Excerpt from: RUOK Website

    Sai Medical Unit Assists ACT Nursing Home with Workshop for Staff

    The Sai Medical Unit has recently conducted voluntary workshops on Self-Care for staff at IRT Kangara Waters in the ACT. The workshop addressed a need for staff in handling difficult situations that may arise between staff and residents, equipping staff with strategies to avoid or defuse situations before they develop or escalate.

    The Nursing Home facility is one with which the local ACT SSIO units have developed a close relationship through service in the form of entertainment and visiting residents, as well as through a close professional association with one of the SSIO health professionals. A need for training was discussed with the latter who identified a problem that members of the SSIO could provide some expertise in. This addressed situations that can arise through misunderstandings due to age and cultural mismatches between staff and the residents. The workshops followed a day’s research at the facility to determine the main issues and the best approach to assist staff and create a working environment that best satisfied the residents as well as the staff.

    The workshop providers included a Registered Nurse with a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Education and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment together with her associate holding a Masters in Psychology as well as having a broad knowledge of the industry.

    The workshops concentrated on developing strategies for dealing with potential confrontational situations. The delivery led to in-depth conversations about various situations that are faced by staff. The value of and approaches utilizing Love were put forward and discussed. Scripted responses were also provided and discussed, to enable staff to maintain control of conversations in order to prevent escalation.

    The responses of the participants were very positive in respect to the content, its practicality and the knowledge and experience of the presenters. Staff indicated they considered the material worthwhile and that they would adopt this in their workplace practices.

    It is likely that a follow-up workshop will be conducted on active listening and communication to further the staff’s ability to interact with the residents in productive, positive and loving ways.