Amma UK NHS Sewing Seva
Inspired by Amma’s wonderful example in responding to the corona virus in so many practical ways to serve the world, a group of devotees in the UK have taken up sewing seva (selfless service). Following two zoom video sessions providing instruction, they have been busy making scrub bags and face masks.
Scrub bags are used to carry scrubs (simple cotton trousers and top worn by hospital staff) home after use, which are then placed straight into the washing machine along with the bag. This minimizes handling and therefore the chance for infection. The face masks are worn by staff who have to be in close contact with patients and the public across all wards and departments.
For some of us, this seva has answered a prayer on how to serve in a safe and useful way at this difficult time for the world whilst staying in our homes. This seva has given us a special joy after knowing that we were following the example of Amma in sewing for the benefit of others. In Amma’s biography we are told of how Amma took up sewing classes when she was young.
Sudhamani had observed some of the neighbours earning their living doing tailoring jobs. Prompted by the idea to help others with the money which she might earn from tailoring, she now cherished a desire to learn sewing. Full of hope Sudhamani expressed her desire to her parents. Damayanti’s reply was discouraging ‘’You are not going to be sent to learn sewing, you will soon be given in marriage to a coconut climber!’’
Sudhamani persisted, nevertheless, until her parents allowed her to learn sewing for one hour a day, with the condition that she complete all the domestic chores before leaving the house. On those days Sudhamani’s routine was astounding. Somehow, she would manage to complete the chores which had to be done before noontime, and then race off to her sewing class. In the scorching heat of the midday sun, Sudhamani would walk two or three kilometres to the sewing class. After one hour she would dash home to serve the noon meal.
We were lucky we didn’t have to face such obstacles, but had our own trials nonetheless! Some devotees had not touched their sewing machines for years, so they had to blow off the cobwebs! Using a sewing machine that you are not so well acquainted with provides many challenges and opportunities to develop patience and prayer. Where to get fabric? Amma’s Grace arrived in the form of unexpected fabric donations from shops and kindly neighbours, allowing work to commence without the delay of waiting for deliveries. One devotee encountered many health challenges whilst sewing but told me — ‘There is simply no doubt that nothing happens without Amma’s Grace. Whatever we do or achieve only happens with Her blessings.’
From the biography we read of Amma ‘s prayerful attitude during sewing classes.
Whilst sewing in the chapel workshop Sudhamani became immersed in devotional singing and shed tears which would fall on the sewing machine…. Sudhamani was absorbed in her devotion. When her sewing was completed, she would go to the church graveyard to do her embroidery. She would talk to the souls drifting along in their subtle bodies and would sing a sorrowful melody for their peaceful rest.
When you reflect it is mind blowing how Her every moment, every breath is for the good of others.
Devotees have shared the practices they used to align with the Divine whilst doing this sewing seva. Practices include
- Chanting the Dhyana Sloka before commencing
- Blessing the machine as Amma blesses her microphone before She sings.
- Listening to bhajans or spiritual music
- Wearing Amma‘s perfume or spreading rose petals around the machine- a sensory approach.
- Having a picture of Amma smiling next to us.
Some of these practices have helped us to stay focused, keep connected to the pure intentions of the seva and have the joy of knowing that we are serving Amma.
And what of the outcome?
Sudhamani was adept at tailoring and earned a good wage. Without giving even a paise to her house, she used her earnings only to help the poor.
Please see the pictures below of some the beautiful bags and masks that have been produced so far. They are on their way to various hospitals, including North Middlesex Hospital, Derby Royal Infirmary, Royal Surrey and Hasslemere hospital. Distribution has broadened to support our brothers and sisters wherever they are needed- local villagers, key workers, family and charities such as Age Concern.
If you would like to participate in this seva please get in touch with Jane O’Byrne <email@example.com>. You can join our Whats app group to keep up with latest news and videos.
A simple video to make scrub bags can be found here.
A simple video to make masks can be found here.
Many thanks to everyone who has helped so far, including sending patterns, mask information, modelling masks etc!
Author: Jane O’Byrne