Women welfare, Medical Help and Kids Education at Meyyur
To realize the dream of Swami Vivekananda to uplift the people in the villages, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai has been undertaking rural medical service for the past 32 years. As a part of this service, a team of doctors and volunteers visit remote villages to provide essential medical care three days in a week.
During Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birthday Celebration, Meyyur Village, 50 km from Chennai, was adopted by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai. Two small nearby hamlets – Gurupuram and Vembedu were also included to benefit by these services. These people in the hamlets are away from the mainstream of the society and are very poor with limited job opportunities and mostly illiterate. Under these circumstances, Chennai Math adopted these villages to uplift them into a model village.
Medical Camp and Annadhanam
Camps are conducted in the hamlets of Gurupuram and Vembedu. The villagers have to walk 15 km to reach the nearby hospital. The Math has organized medical treatment and annadhanam for these villages. Apart from these, during flood relief, basic commodities were distributed in these hamlets which helped them to resume normal day-to-day life.
Educational and Other Developments
Keeping Swami Vivekananda’s ideal for imparting the man – making and character – building education, the local children are given tuition in academics daily. Special classes are also taken through video conferencing. Bhajans and Personality development classes are conducted by Swamijis and volunteers for these ‘Saradamma Bala Mandir’ students on every Sunday followed by Prasadam. In the month of May, a one-month summer camp is conducted at Meyyur. Around 60 students take part in the camp. The math is now providing educational help to around 81 students – among them, 25 are tribal children.
Due to lack of transportation, most children in Vembedu and Gurupuram could not attend school. The math has coordinated with the local school and has arranged transport for these children to go to school. Water tank and water filter for clean drinking water have been arranged at two local schools. In addition, new clothes, books and stationery for children are being provided on a regular basis and many more amenities are arranged. Basic Computer training is given to students and women. Last year, the math arranged a photocopy machine for the benefit of the villagers (the nearest Xerox centre is 15 KM away)
The local temples in Gurupuram and Vembedu have been renovated by the Chennai Math and regular puja is being conducted. This has revived the faith of the local people in traditional worship. The impact of the service done by Sri Ramakrishna Math can be seen as “a positive change” in the people’s life.
Saradamma Grama Mangalam - Women Empowerment Program
In November 2014, a rural tailoring unit was started as “Saradamma Grama Mangalam”. This is run exclusively for the local women who are very poor, and in the past three years about 107 rural women have been trained in tailoring skills. They have also taken orders for stitching school uniforms. This has provided them with financial assistance and also increased their self-confidence. This has helped them to educate their children too. Tailoring machines have been procured with donations from the Math and distributed to the qualified women of this group. About 35 machines have been distributed.
The elderly women in the group were trained to make Agarbathi and Sambarani. This has become a small scale industry as there are steady production and regular sales of these products. This has also been a source of income to these people. Sixty women have been benefited by this. Twice a year our Math is providing new clothes to around 300 widows in and around Meyyur. Daily about 50 students and 20 elders are attending evening Arati and sing Khandana bhajans regularly. Every year Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda, Navaratri etc. are celebrated with devotion. Many villagers from Meyyur attend the main functions at Mylapore Math regularly. The Math is striving hard to empower the women as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda by helping them to acquire skills to become self-sufficient.
Rural Welfare Center - (BPCL Supported)
In view of the growing activities of the medical camp and other rural services, a community center was built with the help of BPCL (which is supporting our entire medical and rural service) and with the cooperation of the local Panchayat. This building was inaugurated on 11th September 2016 by Most Rev. Srimat Swami Gautamananda ji Maharaj in presence of Sri S. Varadarajan, Chairman BPCL. All the above-mentioned activities are being carried out in the newly inaugurated building.
In the words of Swami Vivekananda, “Let each one of us pray day and night for the downtrodden millions in India, who are held fast by poverty, priestcraft and tyranny. I love the poor…….They cannot find light or education, who will bring the light to them – who will travel from door to door bringing education to them? Let these be your God – think of them, work for them, pray for them incessantly-the Lord will show you the way. Let us unite our wills in continued prayer for their good. We may die unknown, unpitied, without accomplishing anything; but not one thought will be lost. It will take effect sooner or later. So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor for having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.”
In a humble way the service is going on, but still more needs to be done. We hope with the help of more compassionate hearts and helping hands we shall carry out Swami Vivekananda’s work. We need your help to make Meyyur a ‘model village’.