Modern day life has been very much centred on ‘taking’ rather than ‘giving’. We live a life that is dominated by social media where constant likes, photos, messages and video chats prevail; a complicated life controlled by busy schedules and constant material needs.
All that changed, albeit for a brief two-week period, when we were introduced to a group of people whose lives were not governed by the lure of social media and technology and to an individual whom I can only describe as one of the most inspirational people I have ever met: Welcome to Veerayatan and Acharya Shri Chandanaji. Veerayatan is an organisation that was formed from this great lady’s vision for the betterment of humanity. Schools, projects, museums; when Acharya Shri Chandanaji has a dream, it inevitably becomes a reality. Our group consisting of teenagers from the UK and Kenya embarked on this Seva trip during the summer of 2018, to experience the life of Acharyaji, to forget materialism, and to pursue a higher purpose.
I was extremely excited about the trip, but still had no idea about what to expect or what was expected of me. Would there be a big language barrier? Would they find our lessons interesting? Or even, inconsequential things like would we be fed Shaak Rotli every day? Question upon Question! Within a few days any reservations we may have had were dispersed, as at the Veerayatan Vidyapeeth School in Kutch, we were hit by a cyclone of enthusiasm and love from the children. From teaching them fractions, showing them imitation snow, to explaining that the Eiffel Tower was in France not Italy, the children never lost their infectious smiles, and were always willing to learn, even though our Gujarati was terrible at times!
Whilst the teaching was a delight, it was what happened after classes that really scored our hearts. A personal highlight was when I was walking down the road to the guest accommodation and all of the hostel girls came running up surrounding me shouting ‘Anya didi will you dance and sing with us?’ Their constant energy and excitement made me realise how much impact our presence had for the children.