Guru Purnima – WA

The Guru Purnima celebrations in WA began with a dynamic performance by the WA Young Adults and SSE children, which followed a story of a contestant on a game show who reflected on three stories that were shared by his Gurus; his mother, his teacher and his SSE teacher, that helped guide him through the game show.

After the performance, we welcomed guest speaker Esben Kaas-Sorensen, the coordinator of Street Connect, one of the services that the NGO Anglicare WA provides. Street Connect is a program that aims to make connections and assist marginalised young people who gather regularly in public places and engage them in positive life changes. The service is provided by a team of Youth Workers who provide daily outreach via the Mobile Youth Resource Centre (the Street Connect Outreach Bus).

Everyone should act on the motto ‘Help Ever; Hurt Never’. Every educated person should engage himself or herself in selfless service to society, with humility and a pure heart.…
You should render service to the destitute, the helpless and the forlorn. When you serve them, you should bear in mind you are serving God Himself in that particular form.
Sathya Sai Baba 1987.

Amongst their other service activities, for over 20 years, members of the Sathya Sai Centres of Perth have been supporting the activities of Street Connect by regularly providing sandwiches, freshly made with loving thoughts, to their team, to be distributed to homeless youth. It was such a humbling experience to hear where the sandwiches – that are made and provided by Sai members every day of the working week – were going and how important a simple sandwich could be in building a connection with the youth on the street. Esben described one particular story of a positive life turn-around that started with a sandwich and was recorded in the West Australian newspaper. He spoke of how grateful he was to the Sathya Sai Organisation for its support, especially knowing that the sandwiches provided were made with love and care. The members also offered at Sai Baba’s lotus feet boxes of soups, dry noodles, long life milk and cereals for Anglicare, that could be easily eaten by hungry youth on the streets. The positive feedback about the service provided by members confirmed their commitment to this very worthwhile activity.

Another event celebrated during the Guru Purnima celebrations was the one-year anniversary of the Serve Our Sai Family (SOS) service initiative. It was launched during the regional Guru Purnima celebrations in 2018 and its objective is to serve the disadvantaged members from the Sai community who may suffer from illness, loneliness or isolation and make them feel loved respected and realise that they are not “the forgotten generation” of our organisation. The SOS service has held two events over the past 12 months and has really highlighted that our Seniors are our Gurus and teachers, with so much wisdom and talent to share. Seniors, young adults and SSE children have come together during these events to singing, dance, and enjoy connecting with one another. To show appreciation to our Sai seniors, each one was provided with a sustainable take home gift, lovingly packed by the members and children.

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Craft Service Session – WA

Over the weekend, the Ladies Wing of Willetton Sai Centre invited children, young adults and adults to share their creative skills, work together to produce items for the needy and upskill members who were interested in learning.

There were more than 10 stations set up, including quilting, crocheting, knitting, card making, origami and even some stations manned by SSE students to assist the younger children. Many of the items created and skills learnt will be used as part of future service activities.

For the past 12 months members of the Ladies Wing have started quilting and crocheting groups, making blankets and clothing items for the Perth Children’s Hospital and hoping to create items for a local orphanage.

The afternoon was spent in loving company, all working together to learn how to help others. It was a great family event to start the school holidays.

SSE Camp, WA

The SSE Children of WA were treated to an SSE Camp in the scenic Bickley Valley during a near-perfect Autumn weekend in April this year. The camp was held from Friday evening 12th till Sunday afternoon 14ht April 2019, and in sharing the theme, Boomerang Back to the Source, the camp was a precursor to the National Conference that was being held in Sydney the following weekend. The WA SSE camp is held biennially and this year was the first time children had the option to camp out under the stars. One of the aims of the camp was to allow children to embrace Mother Nature and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

The proceedings started off on Friday evening with devotional singing under the stars followed by a sumptuous dinner. Teary-eyed parents begrudgingly let go of their children, many of whom were camping for the first time. Their apprehensions and their children’s fears vanished within minutes when, before they could leave, they witnessed their children laughing with joy as they chased each other up and down the grassy amphitheatre, not allowing the dinner to digest for one moment and making new friends almost instantly. The ice was broken with a rousing Icebreaker that had children twisted in human knots before they were finally settled with a bedtime story taken from Sai Baba’s childhood.

Children arose on Saturday morning before the crack of dawn and assembled for morning prayers at 6am. Nagarsankirtan followed and children spread positive vibrations to the Bickley campsite with their songs carrying Sai Baba’s blessing to all corners of the grounds. The program commenced with Walking Meditation followed by Yoga Therapy to awake the tired bodies and rejuvenate the minds. Everyone was then divided into four streams for the different SSE groups and the Parent Volunteers. Facilitators challenged participants to Boomerang back to Sai through age-specific workshops and activities which also continued after lunch. To break things up, children participated in a series of nature-bases activities that got their competitive juices pumping and encouraged them to boldly face their fears. Vertical climbing challenges, flying fox over the river, team building and hut building were some of the activities on offer.

After lunch, one of the children shared with the group his experiences with past SSE camps and how it transformed his life. When he learnt about the harmful effects of meat-eating at the tender age of 5, he decided to become a vegetarian overnight and converted his whole family in the process. Four years on and he is still a vegetarian. Sports was always high on the agenda for children and they certainly had their fill. Volleyball, basketball and soccer games were a hit with the older ones, whilst younger children competed to see who could pitch and pack a tent the fastest – a handy life skill to possess. Outdoor bhajans followed a warm shower and dinner where a few children bravely sang their very first songs. The Saturday night entertainment session closed a full day of activities with fun and laughter and an early night’s rest to prepare for Hindu New Year the following day.

The morning was welcomed with a Unity of Faiths Program before dawn. All major faiths were honoured with songs, prayers, reading of quotes and flags to represent their symbols. Whilst the children sang devotional songs to conclude the program, the milk boiling ceremony was set up in front of everyone with the beautiful Kolam (rice design) that was designed by parents the night before. As the milk began to bubble, children stood around the pot and tried to guess which direction the milk would spill out first. Each direction is sacred and contained a meaning that was symbolic for the new year. The following weekend was also Easter so to commemorate, younger children participated in an Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt whilst the older children explored the true meaning of selfless service.

The final session was the main event before home time. Parents and children were all welcomed to participate in Brazilian Capoeira, a unique high-flying martial arts form shrouded in dance and song. We learn about the history of this inclusive art form and explored the meditative power of the Brazilian musical instruments. We were also all impressed by its inclusivity as the rule is that all must be involved, either as the Capoeiristas practising against each other or as observers playing the instruments. The final meal was a delicious traditional South Indian Banana Leaf lunch.

Feedback for the camp was overall very positive and there was even interest to have it yearly. Appreciation goes to all the parent and teacher volunteers who worked tirelessly in the background to make it a success. We thank our beloved Sai Baba for bringing joy to children and parents alike and making everything possible.