Visit to Sri. Giridhari Lal Seth & Dr. A. B. Seth Free Student Hostel by Arun Srivastava (Montreal).
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity of visiting an AIM for SEVA hostel in Bhilampur post, Lucknow UP. This hostel can hold up to 53 students eager to continue their education. This hostel is run by Swamini Tattvajnanananda Saraswati, a wonderful woman who spends her time caring for these children. The children love and respect her, and they address her as Matta ji. She is warm hearted, energetic, enthusiastic and an intellectual. She encourages the children do their best and has developed games and lessons to support this. Swami ji is an inspiring woman.
Most of the children living in these hostels come from, poor families, single parents, or often, a background of abuse from all over India. These children range from the of ages 5 – 17. Few of these kids have not seen or heard from their families since the school year started, unfortunately this is because the parents can’t afford to visit or make a phone call. Once a year they visit their home and wish to be back soon at AIMs due to poor living conditions at home. However, Swami ji strives to make the environment as hospitable as possible for these children away from their homes.
On December 5, I visited this hostel and what I was hoping to be a 1 hour visit became a 2 and half an hour visit and even then, I wished I had stayed longer. I was their first guest from abroad ( we have many local visitors coming now & then). The children were excited to see me. I was greeted with the Hindu tradition of “pranam” in which they touched my feet to welcome me. They were all so cheery and disciplined as they sang religious prayers. I asked them question and they were so excited to answer them. I asked “ what do you want to be when you grow up?” and I was pleasantly surprised to hear most of these kids respond with teacher. This credit goes to Swami ji for inspiring these young minds. This hostel has changed lives including a young man I spoke to, who shared his story of how he was beaten by his father. With the support from AIM for SEVA he was able to find other kids with similar backgrounds and form bonds with them.
Swami ji believed in these kids when they didn’t believe in themselves. However behind Swami ji there’s more to the support team including, 3 wonderful women in the kitchen to prepare meals and to support the kids. This experience was a once in a lifetime one and I would highly recommend AIM for SEVA supporters to see what their kind donations do for these children and their future. AIM for SEVA gives these children hope and I am a witness of that.