A supporter from AIM for Seva Canada (who prefers to remain unnamed) talks about his “once in a lifetime” experience after meeting the students at the Shri Giridhari Lal Seth & Dr AB Seth
AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys in Bhilampur Post, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
In December 2018, I had the opportunity of visiting the Shri Giridhari Lal Seth & Dr AB Seth AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys in Bhilampur Post, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. This hostel can accommodate 53 students. This hostel is run by Swami Tattvjnananda Saraswati ji, a wonderful woman who spends her time caring for these students. The students love and respect her, and they address her as Mata ji. She is warm hearted, energetic, enthusiastic and above all, deeply intellectual. Mata ji encourages the students to do their best and has developed games and lessons to support them.
Swamini ji is an inspiring woman. Most of the students living in these hostels come from poor families, have single parents, or often come from a background of abuse. These students range from 5 to 17 years. Many of these students have not seen or heard from their families since the school year started. This is because their parents can’t afford to pay a visit or make a phone call. However, Swamini 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 an hour long visit became a two and a half hour visit and even then, I wished I had stayed longer. The students were excited to see me as I was their first guest ever. I was greeted with the Hindu tradition of ‘pranam’ in which they touched my feet to welcome me. They were all so cheerful and disciplined as they sang their religious prayers. I asked them “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and I was pleasantly surprised to hear most of these kids respond with ‘teacher.’ The credit goes to Swamini 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. He was able to get support from AIM for Seva, including finding other children with similar backgrounds and forming bonds with them. Swamini ji believed in these children when they didn’t believe in themselves. However, behind Swamini ji there is also a support team, including three wonderful women in the kitchen to prepare meals and to help the kids.
This experience was a once in a lifetime and I would highly recommend AIM for Seva supporters to see how their donations impact these students and their future. AIM for Seva gives these students hope and I am an eye witness to that.
Our journey to educate and empower rural India could have not been possible but for the support of countless donors, volunteers and other well wishers – both from India and overseas. Since 2002, AIM for Seva Canada has built 27 student homes in India, and the organisation supports over 600 students annually.