Adoption of Barroblanco, El Hato, and Saiama, Colombia
Education in Human Values in Barroblanquito - Piedescuesta-Santander
The Sai Barroblanquito Group of Piedecuesta and the Sai Centre of Bucaramanga have provided Education in Human Values classes (through direct method teaching) for boys and girls ages 6–12 and Human Values workshops for parents in the settlement of Barroblanco since 2005. At present, these students attend the complementary Prema Sai School on Saturdays, from 8 to 11 a.m. The students receive English reinforcement classes and attend music, sports and folk-dance classes incorporating indirect methods of teaching Human Values.
Eight members of the Sathya Sai International Organisation (SSIO) who completed their Diploma course in Sathya Sai EHV, carry out this educational service together, alongside three hired teachers. Currently, on average, 26 students attend these classes. Both parents and teachers have given very positive feedback on the Human Values programme.
As one parent expressed, “We understand that the human values the children express in school originate from their homes. Hence it is important to attend too and apply what we learn in the EHV workshops in our own lives – in our homes, with our whole family and with our neighbours. Attending the Human Values workshops at the Prema Sai School might be mandatory for parents, but it really is a great opportunity to share with other parents and learn from their experiences.” Another parent shared, “I like the workshops offered at the complementary Prema Sai School because they are fun, the topics are meaningful and relevant, and I have learned to correct wrong habits.” Many parents also express their gratitude: “I am very grateful to all of the teachers because my son has learnt a lot. Today he is well-mannered and top of his class, and popular and well-liked amongst his classmates.”
One of the teachers stated, “Somebody asked me if I knew what we were committed to in the complementary school. I answered, ‘Yes, it is a spiritual activity, requiring total dedication to serving the community.’ It is a service that is transforming students, teachers, parents and the community.”
Community Service in Bogota
The Sathya Sai Human Values school is located one hour from Bogotá, in an economically impoverished neighbourhood. Few children in this area attend school. In April 2018, members of the Sathya Sai School through the Community Action Group of People of the neighbourhood, decided to conduct a survey to find out the needs of the people of Bogotá. They discovered and reached out to 25 families with about 60 children, from babies to adolescents age 15, and additionally, 34 grandparents, many of whom lived alone and were disabled.
Thanks to the leadership of the Community Action Group of People, who generously provided their facilities, Human Values classes could be offered once a month on Sundays to all children and their parents. Children receive Human Values classes, grouped according to age, while parents attend workshops on parenting with values. A snack is offered mid-morning.
Monthly values workshops are also held for elderly seniors, who are also provided lunch. One of the goals of these workshops is to create a supportive network for them. They also receive a haircut and nail repair services. Groceries are also distributed every three months.
On December 3, 2018, the group will celebrate Christmas with the entire community, with prayer, songs, and distribution of gifts for the children and grandparents.
In August 2009, a small group of SSIO members became aware of the critical needs of impoverished families arriving in Bogotá from remote parts of Colombia, often accompanying a burnt child and heading for the Simon Bolivar Hospital, the largest in the country specialising in burn injuries. The Sai group decided to pool resources and rent a house to provide shelter to these families, a kitchen to prepare meals, and bathroom and shower facilities to wash up. Since then, SAIAMA, as this shelter has been named, receive these emotionally-wrought families and provide them with a place to sleep, food to eat and sometimes fresh clothes, and above all, emotional and spiritual support. Since 2009, hundreds of people have passed through this wonderful place of refuge and have received solace and comfort to help alleviate their pains and sorrows.
At any one time, SAIAMA has enough space to house 10 people screened and sent by the Social Work Department of the Hospital, who consider SAIAMA as a shelter that provides and meets the needs of the patients and their families that they realise they are not able to supply. Another close-by hospital, the Cardio-Infantil Hospital, has also requested a similar shelter service.
During the day, SAIAMA is utilised for an after-school programme to teach Human Values and provide school reinforcement to about 16 children in the community. The educational programme has been recognised for delivering amazing results. This year, the Divino Maestro Public School, where the 16 children attend, expressed surprise at the notable difference in the children’s behaviour and school performance. The teachers who work with the children in SAIAMA are graduates of the Diploma Course offered by the Institute of Sathya Sai Education (ISSE). The administrator of SAIAMA is a long-time Sai devotee whose love for and dedication to Sathya Sai Baba drives this wonderful service. SAIAMA also offers vegetarian cooking classes, weaving classes typical of the indigenous people of northern Colombia, sewing classes and computer classes for children and adults.