Can you briefly describe the work of the Amar Das Foundation, for those who haven’t heard of it before?
We provide homemade and blessed vegetarian meals to the homeless in downtown Santiago, Chile. We have already served over 10,000 meals!
Can you offer advice and inspiration to those who might like to start a similar project, but feel overwhelmed?
I think that when the heart calls, you have to simply answer and bow your head to the Guru without controlling anything, and without thinking of how you are going to do it. You have to simply work hard, very hard.
At the same time, start simple, everything takes shape afterwards. In the beginning, you probably don’t know the limits of what you can do, so just be certain that it is perfect, beyond the excuses of your mind.
It is also of no importance if your project will be sustainable over time or not, just do it and be grateful for the miracles that start unfolding. Trust and believe.
Can you share five tips with our global audience on how to start a similar project in their community?
First, choose the type of service you want to offer. Is it free meals? Maybe emotional support? Or perhaps workshops? Decide on the type of work you want to do, then do the following:
- Identify your users’ age range.
- Find your users by doing a geo-demographic study, which will give you an idea about the places and common spots where you will find them, like places where they gather and where they live, so you can find them and provide them with your service.
- Find the basic resources to make things happen: if you are serving meals to the homeless, for instance, consider the necessary steps to get the kitchen supplies you need in order to feed all the people you are planning on feeding. In our case, we cook 300 meals every Monday.
- Assess the results constantly and be flexible when changes are needed. Remember that everything is a learning experience.
Do you encounter any challenges in running this program? How do you overcome them?
Many! Every day is a challenge: from getting the financial resources and finding volunteers, to the ever-changing group of users.
I constantly remind myself that I am doing this by God’s will; that I am only an instrument and God is the one who has to sort everything out. I ask, I seek and miracles start.
Can you share a high moment or inspiring story that you experienced doing this Seva?
When you go out on the streets and serve food to the homeless, you encounter a lot of pain and hunger (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual hunger), so one of the inspiring things is to receive so many blessings and grateful words from their hearts. When touching their cold hands, when serving them a warm meal, it touches your heart.
It is also inspiring to witness how resources appear. When I really want to give them something else, resources appear to make things happen.
An impactful experience was a conversation I had with a woman in her fifties with a beautiful smile. One day I approached her to ask if she liked the food. She was eating while sitting on the floor, when she pulled a little doll out of a bag and started combing its hair while presenting it as her “son.” Then she shared with me the story of her son’s father. This is proof that hunger for love and company can be much deeper than physical hunger for food.
Do you draw inspiration from Sikh Dharma when doing Seva?
Answering this question brings tears to my eyes. The Sikh Gurus and the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan are the ones who are supporting me and I couldn’t do this without them. They are my strength and my life.This Seva represents the deepest meaning of my life.
I have had the blessing of having a very intense life, so a few years ago I engraved in my DNA this quote by Yogi Bhajan: “Your parents are not your parents, your children are not your children, your friends are not your friends, you have nothing except for the God within you.” It is difficult to understand and much more to experience it, however, when you start living it, you understand the great privilege that phrase brings.
My teacher, the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan, lives within me.
I was inspired by his teachings to become a Sikh and take Amrit Sanchar, and those are the teachings now supporting me.
Abhaidev Kaur, Founder and Executive Director of the Amar Das Foundation, Chile.
Phone: +569 9827 8495
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