Burrito service by SSE children: South Bethesda, MD.
SSIO members all over the world commemorate April 24th as Aradhana Day, the day Sathya Sai Baba left His physical form. During the week of Aradhana Day, Sai Centers honor the life and legacy of Sathya Sai Baba in various ways.
The children of the South Bethesda Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) Groups 3 and 4 (aged 12 - 18 years) observed Aradhana Day by preparing a delicious meal of tofu burritos and healthy snacks for the residents of the Helping Hands Shelter in Montgomery County, MD. The facility is a temporary shelter for homeless women and their children. The Group 1 SSE students (aged 6 to 9 years) made cards for the shelter’s children while Group 2 students (aged 9 to 12 years) arranged for gifts.
The burrito project was the brainchild of one of the SSE Group 3 students, Rutajit Shetty, who was then asked to take the lead. During the weeks prior to the service, he found a volunteer's home for making the burritos, tried out various recipes, figured out the exact quantity of ingredients, and provided the SSE coordinator with a list of items needed to be purchased by the parents. Rutajit also planned logistics with his fellow SSE students, discussing the workflow, the utensils & materials needed and how best to use the kitchen space efficiently.
The SSE students started off the day with prayer. Everyone then got down to work. Each person had a task – whether it was cleaning/washing vegetables, chopping vegetables or cooking. Rutajit described, "We first got ready the filling for the burritos which involved cooking the rice and the pinto beans, and preparing the bell pepper and onion stir fry, the sofritoes (tofu), and the salsa. Once the items were ready, we set out the tables and all of us worked diligently to make the burritos. We then packed the burritos, yogurt, fruit juices, bananas and granola bars in brown bags and sanctified the offering by chanting the Food Prayer. We were so uplifted just thinking how much the residents would enjoy the delicious meal we had prepared for them.”
Later that evening, a few Sai Center members delivered the cards, gifts and dinner meal. About a week later, the operations manager at the Helping Hands Shelter sent a letter expressing her sincere appreciation. The SSE children reflected on the experience: “We learnt many values from this service project such as compassion and empathy for the needy. It also taught us the value of working in a group. With unity and cooperation, we are able do more than if we work alone. We also learned how to prepare a healthy vegetarian meal and the nutritious ingredients that went into it. We pray to God to guide us to continue being helpful and useful to the community.”