So 2011 is over and the year 2012 has started a few days ago. I hope you all had a wonderful start into the New Year! We had planned to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a very special way – by distributing blankets and some mattresses to the homeless who sleep out on the road. We know how important and necessary this help is for them and that is how we wanted to end 2011 and begin 2012.
India’s weather however had different plans and it started raining at about nine o’clock in the evening on New Year’s Eve. The mild rain gained strength and soon it was a big thunderstorm with lightning and the sound of growling thunder. It did not stop and we knew that it would be difficult to find even those who don’t have a roof over their head out on the road now. When it starts raining, they search for shelter and a dry place to sit or lie down. So we cancelled our plans for that evening.
It was very untypical for this time of year to have such a big thunderstorm and it rained throughout the night until the morning. We felt like it was Monsoon time! Another effect of rain at this time of the year is however that the temperatures drop even further. With this in mind and thinking of the situation of those people who don’t have even a fire to warm themselves on, we went to complete our task yesterday evening.
We have been doing this every year for several years now but it is each time a very humbling experience. This year it is already the second time that we go out with blankets. On the last trip some guests were here at the Ashram and they accompanied us to help us.
They were very touched by covering those who were shivering in sleep. We go late in the evening to find those who really need it – those who cannot decide to go home when it gets dark and too cold outside because there is nowhere to go. They lie there, some on old rags, some on a sheet of plastic or some plastic bags to protect them at least a little bit from the cold of the floor. Where there is some wood or any other material that burns, they make a small fire and lie close to it but mostly there is not enough to keep it burning through the coldest hours of the night. When we see a person like this lying there, we stop the car, get a blanket out and cover this man or this woman with the warm cloth. They often don’t even wake up and don’t consciously notice that we were there – but you can see them relax a bit when their body notices the extra layer protecting them from the cold.
Unfortunately we always make this experience that it is never enough. It does not matter whether we distribute food to the hungry or blankets to those who live in the cold – it will never be enough to feed or cover each and every one of them.
Our guests and friends were deeply touched by their experience in that night and had the feeling that they wanted to help a bit more. They left a donation and we added some money from our side so that we could get some more blankets and go out a second time to distribute them.
It is an experience more rewarding than any party can be. It makes you happy that you can, at least in this small and minimal way, help a person in need. Of course there will always be this feeling of sadness – that there are people in this situation while so many others live in luxury and that you can never help all of them. At the same time however you feel that you have helped at least a few of them and maybe have set an example for others to help, too.