Sistering: A Youth Girls Service Project at an All Women’s Shelter
This article has first been published in the Canadian Sathya Sai Newsletter, Winter Spring 2015.
As an initiative to start new seva activities, the Youth Girls of the Scarborough Sai Centre has started serving an all-woman’s shelter called Sistering located in Toronto, Ontario.
Sistering is a drop-in program that aims to provide basic services to women who are homeless, under housed, low-income or excluded from society looking for a safe and welcoming environment to go during the day. The shelter serves breakfast, snacks, a well-balanced lunch, and showering and laundry facilities. Clothes that are donated to the shelter are distributed equally amongst the women. Sistering also provides other services such as support finding housing, information and referrals about health care. Public-health nurses visit the shelter to provide health workshops, counselling, and various other programs are provided (i.e., massage, ESL and yoga).
As volunteers we provide our services on the morning of the first Saturday of every month. A total of 4–5 youth girls go to the shelter and every month a new set of girls gets the opportunity to go provide their services and engage in this great seva experience. Together we assist in preparing for the meals by cutting vegetables, assisting the cook with making the dishes, cleaning up, and helping to serve the meals, alongside the staffs, to women who drop-in at the shelter.
For the past six months that we have been attending Sistering, the staffs welcome us with a big smile and before we leave the women and the staffs express their sincere gratitude for our presence and services. This positive energy and warm smiles we receive results in the Youth Girls anticipating the next monthly visit to the shelter. As Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba says,
Service is the highest spiritual discipline. Prayer and meditation, or knowledge of scripture and Vedanta (Holy Scriptures of India), cannot help you reach the goal as quickly as service can. Service has a double effect, it extinguishes the ego and gives bliss.