God – and man, help those who help themselves

March 23, 2010

Vicky and Shanti flank Pt. Suresh Sugrim. Vicky has a four-year old Tania in his arms, while little Vikash nestles in his mother’s arms. Anil, six years of age, was at school when Pt. Sugrim visited.

NJASHM once more assists the unfortunate, in partnership with Government

LATCHMIN Soman, called Shanti, 22-years-old, and her husband Vicky, who is two years older, refuse to let their harsh circumstances constrain the path of success they dream of for their children. Their impoverished and tragic backgrounds and current straitened circumstances notwithstanding, they aspire to provide better lives for their children, and their every effort and all their meagre resources are mobilized toward this eventuality.

While there are many in societies who are preying on others on the ground that they are ‘marginalized’, there are others who are determined to carve for themselves and their families upgraded lifestyles out of their own unremitting hard work, personal sacrifices, and commitment to the realization of their dreams for their offspring.

This is the way families, communities, and nations have catalyzed development, and those who encourage strong, strapping young men to pick up a gun and rob others, even kill them in the process, to acquire quick and easy wealth, on the premise that they are owed everything without their striving to achieve, is doing them immeasurable harm, because only bad and sad things can evolve from this path.

Shanti and Vicky have chosen a different path toward resource-acquisition – the way of hard work, commitment to honest endeavor, and love and respect for each other and their children, because they have recognized how priceless a happy family is in a world where abuse – of substances and family members, is prevalent enough to be rated a norm, which is the primary cause of dislocations in families and the general society.

Shanti and her siblings were scattered like chaff in the wind when they were orphaned before she had reached the age of nine. Shuttled from one home to the next as a maid Shanti had no opportunity to attend school. One of her sisters was traded off, even before her fifteenth birthday, to an almost middle-aged man, who treated her badly.

The little home in which much joy and contentment resides. Shanti was herself being forced by her relatives, when she was barely thirteen years old, to work in a restaurant noted for activities other than the sale of food, with her pay being given to the relatives, so she ran away and stayed with a friend, during which time she was befriended by then 15-year-old Vicky, who was himself uneducated, having worked since a young child with a trader of dried seafoods. The two young people started living together and today, eight years later, they have three children – Anil, 6-years-old, Tania, aged four, and one-year-old Vikash, whom they are determined to provide with a good life, for which they recognize a solid educational base is an imperative.

Vicky works as a cane-cutter and, during out-of-crop season, he goes to sea, while Shanti augments the family income by rearing poultry and growing produce in her kitchen garden, both for sale and for family consumption, so in that way she ensures that her family has a healthy diet and sufficient fresh, home-grown food.

Vicky and Shanti along with their children. However, their tiny shack is situated on State lands on the Anna Catherina foreshore, which is prone to flooding during high tides, and it is during one such incident, when she had lost her garden produce and some of her livestock to flooding caused by overtopping of the sea defences during spring tides in January of this year that her plight, highlighted in the Guyanese media, came to the attention of philanthropist, New Jersey- based Pt. Suresh Sugrim, who organized help for the family through the Diaspora-funded New Jersey Arya Samaj Mandir Inc. Humanitarian Mission, (NJASHM) which is an organization that provides much help on an annual basis to Guyanese in joint initiatives with the Government.

The Government, through the Ministry of Housing, has made provisions for residents of that dangerous area to relocate to the Parfait Harmonie Housing Scheme and on Monday last Pt Sugrim presented to Shanti US$250, which will assist with payment for the land provided by the Government. The organization is prepared to extend additional help with the construction of the family’s home, because Pt. Sugrim says that his organization, while not having any interest in providing hand-outs to lazy persons unwilling to help themselves, has a sustained annual programmed for those who are willing to endeavor toward their upward mobility.

The only flaw that Shanti recognizes in her life is her fear that haemorrhaging from her birth control procedures may endanger her life and leave her children bereft of a mother’s care, as she was, otherwise she is very content with her little family and the life she lives, while still seeking to enhance their lives for the sake of her children.

According to Pt. Sugrim, he has seen this craving for a better life displayed in the many efforts being made by this young couple – unschooled and poor, who provide an example of what contentment and striving to achieve an ideal the honest way can do, and who can teach many affluent persons the way to realize real happiness.

Pt. Sugrim says that the cooperation provided his organization by Minister Priya Manickchand has enabled much of the success of his organization’ initiatives in Guyana and describes the Minister’s partnership with the group as a strong and sustaining motivating factor for members – both local and abroad, of the NJASHM.

The Organization is currently seeking to establish a housing project, in collaboration with the Government of Guyana, to assist such persons in need of help toward acquisition of their own homes.

PARVATI PERSAUD-EDWARDS

Introduction

The New Jersey Arya Samaj Mandir, Inc., executed it’s first Humanitarian Mission in Guyana, South America in July-August 2005. We worked with the Berbice Central Arya Samaj (Regional Branch of the Guyana Central Arya Samaj) in reaching out to the less fortunate children in orphanages in the County of Berbice, Guyana.

Such social and charitable works are the basic hallmarks of Hinduism and the Arya Samaj movement. Unlike the common perceptions that Hinduism is based on rituals and only seek to spread spirituality, the teachings of Hinduism is based on the principle of sewa or service to humanity. With the establishment of the Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement established in 1875 by Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati, such service was encouraged to be dedicated to the human race, especially the unfortunate and downtrodden. These will include the orphans, people in poverty, disadvantaged widows, disaster struck victims, battered women and children irrespective of race and ethnic origin.

The initial trip to Guyana, saw many children benefitting from the proceeds of the mission. Due to the overwhelming response from Guyana, the New Jersey Arya Samaj Board of Governers, became determined to continue it’s Humanitarian Mission to Guyana on a yearly basis. Thus the New Jersey Arya Samaj Mandir, Inc. Humanitarian Mission grew in strength, as members of this mandir began to work diligently in raising funds.

We have established this website so that our donors, sponsors and well-wishers can be able to see the work and progress of the mission to which they support.

We humbly encourage all to contribute generously to this mission. Please click on Fund-Raising to learn how you can donate or contribute towards this mission.

Sincerely,
Pt. Suresh Nauth Sugrim,
President.

New Jersey Arya Samaj Humanitrian Mission relief mission dismayed at plight of needy seniors

We cannot do great things but we can do small things with great love’

During a recent visit to provide social relief to less fortunate persons Pandit Suresh Sugrim, president of the New Jersey Arya Samaj Mandir Humanitarian Mission (NJASMHM) felt he had `discovered Haiti in Guyana.’

Sugrim who recently completed his annual mission in sections of Berbice and Mahaica and other areas across Guyana on behalf of his organization told this newspaper that he was sad to see the inhumane conditions in which some persons live. What was worse, he said was that “society seems to turn its back on them.”
His organization has partnered with the Guyanese Women in Development

(Guywid) group in Berbice that assisted in all the activities as well as the Food for the Poor organization in an effort to “make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.”
He recalled that during a visit to Cane Grove, Mahaica where the organization held a medical outreach, he had seen the worst cases where “a lot of seniors who were bedridden have been neglected by their children.”

“I’ve seen persons who had no legs and some persons who were sleeping on the floor” in their ramshackle homes – including a 96-year-old woman – with hardly anything to eat.

He pleaded: “If there are seniors who are unwanted in the community, assist them. It might not be with cash but a hug, a smile, a tap on the back or a sense of compassion can help to take their loneliness away. Give them hope to live for a better tomorrow.”
“When our brothers and sisters are down we need to give them the hope and encouragement; we need to pick them up and tell them that behind every dark cloud there is a silver lining.”

According to him, after the medical outreach, which was coordinated by the Ministry of Health, the medex and two nurses accompanied the team to the homes of the “shut-ins” to check on their medical conditions.

The team also encountered children who were “mentally disturbed due to polio” and other ailments and who had been neglected by their parents.
Sugrim said he was also concerned about a child on the Corentyne who had lost both parents and was in the care of “Samaritans who were also in need” and had stopped receiving her public assistance.

He said he took the child to the welfare office so she can start receiving the service again and also plans to help other children in similar circumstances.
Calling for other non-governmental organizations to “interact and unite so we can fight the force of poverty through education,” Sugrim said the NJASHM gave out uniform vouchers valued $3,000 each to a number of children.

He said the mission targeted mostly “single mothers who are trying to make a difference in the lives of their children.”

House
The NJASHM recently handed over a house to Gladys Madramootoo, 61, and her 45-year-old son, David at Canje after discovering that the family had been living in a rundown shack. The shack was “knocked down and rebuilt within 10 days.”

The house was dedicated to the family “in memory of Shri Prakash Gossai Bhavan because he was the pillar of this humanitarian organization. I would try as much as possible to continue his charitable legacy.”

In expressing appreciation to the NJASHM for the gesture, the mother and son cried tears of joy. They were also grateful to the Guywid group that was expected to furnish the house, officials of Region Six and persons who assisted in making their dream of a better life a reality.

Among the other charitable activities the organization carried out were visits to the Dharm Shala where some of the inmates benefitted from haircuts and gifts. Almost 200 children from orphanages in Berbice were also feted at Demico House.

Mothers of newborn babies were also presented with gift items while food hampers, clothing and other items were handed out to senior citizens and other needy families. For the second year, the organization held a blood donation drive on the Corentyne.

It also conducted various outreach programmes such as counselling of abused women as well as “children from broken homes who felt unwanted and were about to commit suicide.”

According to him, “even talking to families and making them feel they were not alone helped because I felt tremendous impact of loneliness.”
Apart from distributing items, the organization held a walk-a-ton on domestic violence which started from Port Mourant and ended at the Albion Sport Complex Ground.
Most of the participants in the walk were youths and Sugrim was happy that they were able to benefit from the motivating messages by Bishop Juan Edghill and Philomena Sahoye-Shury.

He was especially grateful that Sahoye-Shury “made the time to attend and save the life of another mother… another daughter.” He said the time for putting up with abusive husbands and “being baby machines and sex slaves is over. This is nonsense because when women get killed they throw their children in a pool of poverty.”

He said a lot has to be done to change the situation, noting that the NJASHM does not have the time and “cannot do great things but we can do small things with great love.”
The organization has “touched the hearts of many by travelling to areas like Cow Dam in Angoy’s Avenue, Stanleytown, Edinburgh” and various areas on the Corentyne to distribute items.

Blind amputee and family find help in hard times from the New Jersey Arya Samaj Humanitarian Mission

March 31, 2010

When blind amputee Latchman Mohabir and his family were asked to leave the house where they were staying at Belvedere Squatting Area, they did not know what they were going to do next.

Mohabir, 48, who uses a wheelchair, has been unable to provide for his wife Banmattie Mohabir, 46, and his 16-year-old son Monishwar. Banmattie told Stabroek News that she has been trying hard to make ends meet and had to remove her son from school at a young age so he could also earn for the family. Even having a home to call their own was “a dream” for them. Now, thanks to the New Jersery Arya Samaj Mandir Inc. (NJASM), they would soon move into their one-bedroom concrete house at Babu John.

Banmattie explained that when the owners of the house where they had been staying asked them to leave, she begged for more time in order to figure out her next move.  “We din had no money; nothing! We din have nowhere to go…,” she lamented. “Me really thankful for the help because we never own a house… and me din expect it woulda happen so fast. Ah feel so nice; ah thank the Lord for it.”

In November, she found out that the NJAMS was building houses for needy persons and approached one of the members of the local chapter for help. She was told that before she could qualify for a house she had to be the owner of a house lot. At that stage she felt she would not be able to get the house after all; she did not own a lot and could not afford to purchase one.

Banmattie later learnt that government provides low cost house lots and through representation by president of the NJASM, Pandit Suresh Sugrim, she was able to acquire the lot much faster than expected. He arranged for her to visit the chairman of Region Six Zulfikar Mustapha, who agreed to assist in speeding up the process. Afterward, the house was completed in less than a week.

‘Amputated’

Life has always been difficult for the family and with Latchman’s disability, the situation became worse. He was ploughing a rice field at Lesbeholden, Black Bush Polder, where he belonged to, when the tractor toppled. Luckily he managed to jump off in time. He hurt his left leg but did not take it seriously. Three days later, it began to swell and Banmattie accompanied him to the doctor to receive treatment. His leg, however, continued to deteriorate and Mohabir was later diagnosed was diabetes. Tried as they did, Latchman’s doctors were unable to save the foot. The ankle was first amputated and then two months later the entire leg had to be removed.

His late brother Bharrat, who was based in the US, bought Latchman a prosthetic leg but he has never been able to walk with it and instead he has used a wheelchair for mobility. As if his troubles were not enough, Latchman lost his sight in both eyes two years ago.

While Bharrat, 54, had been providing regular financial assistance to the family, he fell while putting up Christmas decorations about two years ago and he died. Banmattie said that since his death, coping has been very difficult for the family. Her son, Monishwar, was forced to drop out of secondary school at the second form level, because the family could not afford to continue sending him, while her daughter, Rookmanie, 21, got married about a year ago and now lives at Tain.

‘Dreams come true’ with the help of the New Jersey Arya Samaj Humanitarian Mission

Now, Banmattie is grateful to the NJASM, the regional chairman and others who helped her dreams to come true. Pandit Sugrim told Stabroek News that when the members of his organisation learnt about the family’s plight, they did not hesitate to render assistance “to give them a brighter tomorrow… I’m happy that we could have reached out to the family and give them a second chance.” The NJASM had been providing Monishwar, as well as other children, with school supplies. Sugrim explained that the organisation is “trying to empower him to have an education or learn a trade.”

Banmattie was working at a supermarket. After Latchman became blind, she stopped. She has since been selling vegetables from her kitchen garden to earn an income and she also does domestic chores for residents. Still, the family has been struggling to survive. “We struggling but wah me gon do? Me naa give up. Me doing housework for people and planting a little kitchen garden…”

She will continue her gardening when she moves to Babu John and she is also interested in rearing poultry. Monishwar started working at a supermarket but he quit the job to assist with building the house.

Meanwhile, members of the Mandir at Black Bush Polder provided the family with a few pieces of materials to add a kitchen to the new house and relatives are helping to build it. Furnishings like beds and other items are still needed for the house, though. The family can be reached at 616-3359.

NJASM Helps Anna Catherina Family pay for house lot

It was an emotional scene yesterday afternoon at Anna Catherina Sea View, West Coast Demerara  when Latchmin Soman, a mother of three whose plight was highlighted by this newspaper several weeks ago when high tides pounded the nearby sea defence, received a cheque from a ‘Good Samaritan’ which will be used to pay for a house lot.

Pandit Suresh Sugrim of the New Jersey Arya Samaj Mandir Inc based in New Jersey in the United States, yesterday handed over a cheque worth some US$250 to Soman and her family. The cheque will cover the payment for a house lot which the family has been allocated by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) in the Parfait-Harmonie housing area on the West Bank Demerara.

Pandit Sugrim, President of the organization, told Stabroek News yesterday that the non-profit body has been focusing its humanitarian efforts in Guyana, since the principals of the organization, including him all have their origins here. He said that on this trip to Guyana, his main intention was to get in touch with Soman and her family, as he was “deeply touched by the determination and zeal” displayed by Soman when he read the article published by this newspaper  early January.

He said the organisation, which depends on donations from the Diaspora, may continue to assist the family once Soman and her common-law husband make an effort to develop their lives, and those of their three children. Sugrim said that the organization has been assisting many families in similar situations and it will continue to do so since “one cannot turn his/her back on poverty”.

He also said that plans are in the making to develop a housing area in Berbice for less fortunate families.

An emotional Soman, an orphan since the age of 10 when both of her parents passed away after periods of illness, expressed appreciation to the New Jersey- based organization and persons who contribute towards the body. She stated that she has already made plans for the family’s relocation from the Anna Catherina area, as she displayed several flower pots, which she stated, “I set for when we move from here”.

She stated that several persons came forward to assist her since the first news item highlighting her plight was carried by Stabroek News. In tears, Soman said she will continue to invest her time and energy to address the needs of her children, “especially where sending them to school” is concerned.

As the New Year broke, several families were affected by huge waves, the effects of a Spring tide which reached above normal high tide levels, pounding the sea defence structures along the Coastland. Many families have since relocated from the Anna Catherina Sea View area after the Ministry of Housing and

Water made arrangements for the residents living in the area to relocate from the government reserve.