Today’s program offered 170 meals of potato and cauliflower stew, Indian bread (puri) and sweet rice pudding (khir). One of the amazing moments in Just One programs at Sai Maa’s Ashram is always the blessing of the food.
After the children are fed, we offer meals to between 30-40 adults from the Ashram neighborhood. Although this is our common practice, today I am surprised by how many of these adults have medical ailments. There are a number of blind men brought to the Ashram, one with a withered and useless arm and another whose face is grossly misshapen, so much so that only one eye is functional and eating is difficult. Most of the mothers are dirty and dressed in rags with grayish yellow bloodshot eyes, even though their age does not warrant it. It is moments like these that the need in Varanasi for more medical assistance to the poor is painfully obvious.
Despite this observation, the overwhelming sense I am left with is one filled with aliveness, exuberance and the energy of youth. The young children playing raucously before and after eating, the school children excitedly chattering but more subdued in their behavior and the smiles and laughter that fill the Ashram this morning ring in my ears and create the impression I carry with me as I walk out through the Ashram gate. Even the cooks are smiling and waving gaily as they return to their usual work, filled with the blessings of Sai Maa’s Just One program.