SSIO Australia’s Response to the Bushfire Emergencies of Summer of 2019/20

The SSIO of Australia & PNG is responding to the devastation created by the current bushfire emergency by encouraging its members to assist the affected individuals, communities and wildlife in a number of ways and expects this assistance will continue for some time.

Groups/Regions of the SSIO have already started providing assistance within their capacities to alleviate the distress created by the monumental nation-wide emergency. A national coordinated response is being activated in a two-phase approach. Dealing with the crisis as it unfolds and following this phase assisting with recovery.

The crisis phase is being dealt with by;

  • Prayers for rain to extinguish the fires and break the long-standing drought experienced by large areas of the country. Prayers are also being directed towards the welfare and courage of those adversely affected by the fires and the marvellous volunteers who selflessly fight the fires. Several regions and groups have organised special prayer sessions in this regard.
  • Collection and distribution of material support for those people in need through the fires. These requirements are being assessed, collected and distributed in consultation with local authorities based on needs. Members are encouraged to ascertain how you can assist by referring to your local group or region presidents or the Bushfire Service Coordinators; Vignesh Shanmugan, 0404905342, or Sudhesh Suknundan, 0408744169.
  • Authorities are recommending at this stage that cash donations are the most useful means of support. They have been swamped with donations of food, clothing and other materials to the point they are becoming a hinderance in their efforts to support those affected. The SSIO has established a fund for receipt of donations by members if they so wish to donate. The information for making these donations is available through the Presidents of individual groups and regions.
  • Members are encouraged to support local community initiatives and participate where possible, such as supporting local Evacuation Centres, provision of shelter to evacuees and supporting the various wildlife rescue services.

All supporting activities are ongoing until the end of this Summer. Members are asked to keep on working with your Region Presidents and Bushfire Service Coordinators. Always ask how you can be of support in these critical times.

More information will be provided as appropriate, especially in dealing with the recovery phase.

Sydwest Multicultural Christmas Celebrations in NSW Region West

NSW Region West of the Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia & PNG have been co-organising this event since 2013. It is a special end-of-year celebration and service offering catering for a large group of youthful seniors aged between 60 and 95 years.

The group normally includes about 250 -300 aged and disabled clients from the Western Sydney Region contained within the Auburn, Blacktown, Hills, Holroyd and Parramatta Local Government areas. The diverse range of nationalities represented includes; Bhutanese, Spanish, Chinese, Serbians, Croatians, Egyptians, Turkish, Filipinos, Indians, Fijians, Sri Lankans and many others.

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.

SSIO Australia Vimeo/YouTube Links

Below are the latest videos released by SSIO Australia of recent events:

“From There to Here” – A Play from Victoria for the 94th Year of the Advent of Sathya Sai Baba

Vedam – 94th Year of the Advent of Sathya Sai Baba (Victoria Regions)

94th Year of the Advent of Sathya Sai Baba | Bhajan (Session 1) | Sydney

94th Year of the Advent of Sathya Sai Baba | Bhajan (Session 2) | Sydney

Play | 94th Year of the Advent of Sathya Sai Baba | Sydney

New Year Wishes from Dr Narendranath Reddy

In the link below you will find a New Year 2020 Video Message in which Dr. Narendranath Reddy, Chairman, SSIO, reminds us of the four important commandments of Sri Sathya Sai Baba to redeem our lives. He expresses gratitude to Sai Baba for the four precious gifts to humanity. Dr. Reddy also outlines the theme of the 11th World Conference of the SSIO to be held in November 2020 in Prasanthi Nilayam, namely – Unity is Divinity and Purity is Enlightenment.

Download the video

Free Yoga for Stress Relief (Sai Medical Unit of Australia and Bundaberg Sai Centre)

Free Yoga was organised for the men, women and children of Bundaberg at the Neighbourhood Centre on the 28th of November 2019, to celebrate the 94th advent of Sathya Sai Baba. The one hour session was attended by 15 participants across a wide variety of age groups. Vegetarian finger food was offered by members of Bundaberg Sai Centre and was received wholeheartedly by the participants.

Participant feedback included:
“Felt relaxed and uplifted afterward; it was fantastic”
“I enjoyed the Yoga session today, and I would love to join again”
“Thank you all for the uplifting afternoon”
We are grateful to Ms Tamar Boas, a yoga teacher, for an energizing yoga workout.

Sathya Sai College Sustainability Award

The Sathya Sai College of Murwillumbah NSW is Australia’s Sai School, supported by the SSIO in Australia. It has recently won a local council sustainability award. Tweed Council is taking a proactive role in encouraging sustainability in their area by recognising the importance of management of the environment for social and economic wellbeing, as well as for preservation for the future. On 15 November 2019, they conducted the inaugural ceremony, presenting awards to Sustainability Champions. The Sathya Sai College at Murwillumbah was the recipient of the People’s Choice Award for Schools.

The slogan for the College’s submission was – ‘Learning about litter, living life cleaner and making it greener.’

The practices implemented at the school that were highlighted were: Red bin-free school grounds –avoiding rubbish for landfill, creating healthy habits by eating nude food – reducing packaging, connecting with nature during activities such as outdoor classroom day, weekly gardening activities, developing edible gardens by growing a “Juicy Fruit Patch” and using the 3 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Recycle.

This comprehensive round of initiatives adopted by students, staff and parents, has gradually changed the waste management processes and culture of the school community. It likely has flow-on effects to the homes and the community, as well as installing positive sustainability awareness in the students. The success of the program has also been achieved thanks to the support of organisations supporting sustainability including Eco-Schools, North East Waste and Tweed Shire Council.

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.