Serving in Uttarakhand

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Oct 12, 2013

3rd October 2013; 1433 hrs; village Kotma, Uttarakhand

Am I really serving? This is the question I have come to ask myself repeatedly in the last few days.

In July, when I had this urge to come and ‘serve’ in Uttarakhand, I had little idea what I would or rather could do. But I knew I had two hands and I would be able to contribute in some way.

Finally I came here last month, and since then I have been visiting villages, meeting some very amazing people, listening to them and going through many different experiences. I am learning a lot in the process and I can feel myself changing and growing.

So, while I am serving myself through the experience,  am I really serving outwards also? I asked this question to Swami Janardhananand ji and he had said “You come here and live the life of the people here… if something emerges its great, if not then also everybody learns and grows”.

Then, just now I was talking about the same thing to Pratyush. We talk to villagers, but as an individual I feel I have little to offer. I take some odd computer classes or a math classes here and there, but it hardly helps in the bigger picture. So what are we doing? I cannot promise them I can solve the problem of livelihood  I cannot even bring them any relief material..
Am I being selfish that I am gaining so much and giving so little?

And what he said, sort of calmed my mind. That just by being there, by listening to people’s story and holding their hands, we are serving. We are serving through our presence. Our minds are trained to capture service only when there is a tangible output – when some physical work is done or some big project report is submitted. And that is what probably sowed the seeds of doubt in me. But then I realize that slowly some tangible things are also taking shape. We are linking people and organisations. Over last 15 days, we have been to many places while travelling around Uttarakhand and met individuals doing great work in isolated pockets and we have tried building linkages so that all can learn from and help each other in the process. Not just within the region, but also building linkages between organisations and individuals we know in the cities and who are eager to help with organisations here. We are spending time with children at SNC which I hope gives them a different exposure. Teaching through games and storytelling sessions. We are also helping in their day to day activities and also coming up with ideas on where things can be streamlined. Have also started a little bit of computer and office training for the staff.

At the same time, there is a load of knowledge that we gaining. We trekked 15 kms up and down a mountain to reach a village which has no road connectivity since the rains to be part of a new program that a Dr. Tulsidas is starting. It was a big shock for me that a trek that left me so tired, is a regular up and down for the villagers because their village is so small and low on road construction priority!  I have met people who have spent 30 years, some even 50 years serving and meditating in the region and gaining insights on life and the idea of service and spirituality itself. The mountains themselves are such an inspiration for searching within and understanding one self. Both on a physical and a mental level, I am gaining a lot from just being one with the mountain life here in Uttarakhand.

Dr. Tulsidas ji put it in words very beautifully when he said “you have come here with good intentions and your vibrations do not go waste. Your positive energies are energizing the people working here”. :) .
May our journey be blessed!


This blog is an excerpt from Ashima's reflections on her journey, serving communities affected by the floods in Uttarakhan. You can read the entire blog on:

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Oct 12, 2013 | permalink

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Previous Comments
  • Vinya wrote ...

    Beautiful and heartfelt reflections :)

  • Neeti wrote ...

    You all doing such a noble deed...
    Awaiting to hear some more stories at the Ahmedabad retreat

  • Harish Dalal wrote ...

    By being there you show faith and trust in them which gives them confidence to help themselves.
    Have faith that you are providing a useful service and continue to give the locals confidence for a rapid and complete recovery. Best wishes

  • Ashima wrote ...

    Thank you so much! Uttarakhand was quite an emotional and life enhancing journey..It will take a long time for things to return to any sort of normalcy there but we all continue to pray for it.