It is March 21 and it is usually already very hot in Varanasi, but today is relatively mild as we head to the Sathya Sai Maa Moksha Dham for our regular food distribution program. It is just a few days before the cherished Hindu festival of Holi (often referred to as the Festival of Colors) and excitement is already evident on the streets as vendors peddle piles of fluorescent colored powder and water guns - and we watch the children already squirting clean water randomly at those passing by.
At the Shiva Ji Mission School in Laxmanpur just outside Bhojubeer March 17 is the last official day of exams. All the students from the youngest to those in eighth grade all sit for exams at the school. It is also the last day at the school before the break for Holi – the Hindu festival of color.
As a celebration this week’s distribution of fruit has been moved forward and is being held on March 17 after the final exam is complete.
It is the 12th of March and again we are participating with Shiva Ji Mission School in a meal distribution. The school is about to enter its exam period, and so this morning the 320 children have been participating in exercise classes as preparation. A local karate instructor offers seva at the school by leading these sessions regularly throughout the year.
While the drills are performed by the children, our kitchen staff have been busy preparing the meals to satisfy the appetites growing by the minute. By the time the oldest students are finishing their class, the food is almost ready to be served.
Every year on march 8th International Women’s Day is celebrated throughout the world. In Varanasi this is an opportunity both to promote the contributions made by women, and to work towards greater education and empowerment of the many women who still live with inequality. In this spirit Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust together with ASMITA and ChildLine, 2 organisations working in the slum areas of Varanasi, offered special programs during the month of March in 5 slum areas across the city of Varanasi.
Each program reflected the unique interests, skills and culture of that community. However they all offered education on the role of women in society, and the opportunity for that community to express themselves.
It is March 5th, and the Just One team has returned to the Shiva Ji Mission School in Lakshmanpur, Varanasi. Today we are a little later than usual, so we begin to distribute the oranges to the students almost as soon as we arrive at 11am. The children wait patiently as the oranges are distributed to each of them, many responding with huge smiles as the gifts are offered.
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