Hearts and Hands: Serving the Sangat at Hacienda de Guru Ram Das
By Kulwant Kaur Khalsa, New Mexico, USA
“You have to live with kindness, compassion, and service. These are the three sources of all knowledge, happiness, prosperity, and richness. ” ~Yogi Bhajan
A few years ago our friend, Sat Kirpal Kaur, fell and broke her leg and a number of people here in Espanola rallied round to help her during the healing process. It seemed that things like this were happening on a regular basis, and someone got the idea: “Why don’t we organize ourselves so that we are ready the next time?” And so a group of five friends began to meet on a regular basis, serving as the core group that could reach out to a vast network of volunteers throughout the Sangat at Hacienda de Guru Ram Das in New Mexico.
During our first year we were very busy. There was a steady flow of people who had a hip replacement, needed cataract surgery, broke a foot, or fell from a roof. Sometimes these things happened simultaneously. We were scurrying around without much time to think about it all, and at times we felt overwhelmed and wondered if we had gotten in over our heads.
But then, out of the blue, things leveled out and we had a chance to catch our breath, look at our organization, and think about how we would like to see it evolve. We decided to call ourselves Hearts and Hands. Having a name seemed to make a big difference. Somehow we now had an identity, and felt more firmly planted in the ground. We did a group brainstorming process and quickly realized that our vision was vast and our dreams many. We saw Hearts and Hands moving into many new areas within the ashram and then into the surrounding community beyond the ashram. This was a joyous and inspiring experience for us, to get a taste of where Hearts and Hands might take us. It seemed that the sky was the limit, and that the future held many adventures and opportunities for us.
One of our goals was to create a sense of appreciation within the sangat for one another, for the ashram, and for all that people do for one another. So we decided to have an appreciation breakfast to bring together the people who had been served by Hearts and Hands and all the volunteers who had helped them. The Hearts and Hands crew cooked and hosted, those who had been helped were honored and congratulated on their recovery, and they in turn were happy to recognize and thank the volunteers who had come to their aid. The breakfast was a success, and we were happy that we had gone a step beyond helping one another to honoring and appreciating one another.
About this time Darshan Kaur became inspired by what we were trying to do, and stepped in to work with us as a consultant. She very generously shared her skills and talents to help us obtain our domain name, HeartsandHandsNM.com, and set up our website. We expressed many ideas about how to make this interactive with the sangat and to function as a communication link with our volunteers about what was needed, when, and where. But for now, it still remains a bare bones site, and all the features we hope for are still to manifest as we evolve in the future.
In the meantime, we were continuing on with our core mission, and on a regular basis would organize volunteers to assist sangat members in times of need. These were always health emergencies that would resolve themselves in a few weeks time. But on the horizon was new kind of situation—a health problem that would last not for a few weeks or months but long term. We had never dealt with a long term illness. This was going to require a team that would remain in place indefinitely.
Things started out slowly, with only occasional trips to the doctor needed. And we had time to look to the future and prepare ourselves to function in a new way. When the time came there was a devoted team to clean, paint, and prepare a new home for our beloved patient. Rama Singh, with his construction skills, led volunteers in building a new fence to make a safe yard for our sister’s dog. An enthusiastic group of young people packed up her belongings and moved her into the house where she would live with a dear friend.
As our patient settled in, a support group developed to help her with the routines of daily life: grocery shopping, preparing the juices at the center of her healing therapy, and driving her to doctor’s appointments. When it became clear that financial resources were stretched thin, Hearts and Hands again entered a new arena and began to learn about fundraising.
The founders of Hearts and Hands, the original five, are Sat Kartar Kaur (the one who had the idea to begin with), Hari Charn Kaur, Kulwant Kaur, Sangeet Kaur, and Sat Sangeet Kaur. All of us are from what Yogi Bhajan always called the pioneer generation, otherwise known as aging boomers—the generation that is going to break the Social Security system and Medicare. “Well,” you might say, “No wonder they want to help people with broken bones and cataracts. It’s simply enlightened self interest.” And perhaps you’re right.
But about a year ago a fresh breeze blew into our group and Sat Darshan Kaur at twenty something years of age, invigorated us with a youthful spirit. Almost immediately she began to campaign for us to sponsor a Memorial Day party for the whole ashram. I can only speak for myself, but I thought: “Don’t we have enough on our plates? This is way over the top.” But her energy was unstoppable. Before you knew it we were all excited and got the whole ashram involved. In the end, it was a day when everyone came together to just appreciate that we’re all here. There was face painting and games for the kids, grilled veggie dogs and burgers, a table laden with the most wonderful potato salads, desserts, and everything else that you could ever want at a cookout. The grand finale was a concert and sing along with Mata Mandir Singh and friends. It was fun, fun, fun! A beautiful gift for everyone to enjoy.
Most recently Upma Kaur has joined us, also a generation or two younger, and she has come just in time. She brings an expertise in PR and graphic design that we have put to immediate use with the advertising for our latest venture which is another new frontier for us. Here in Espanola on March 18-20 we are sponsoring a benefit workshop and weekend with Hargopal Kaur from Los Angeles. All proceeds will go to projects assisting local community members. Hargopal Kaur has a healing practice in Sat Nam Rasayan ® and facilitates another healing modality called Family Constellations. There will be a Family Constellations workshop on Saturday, March 19 from 9:00-4:00, with a vegetarian lunch included. The workshop qualifies as continuing education credits for Nurses, Clinical Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists, but it’s just a great opportunity for a lot of us to come together and share a healing energy. On Friday March 18 and Sunday March 19, Hargopal will be available for private sessions in Sat Nam Rasayan®, Family Constellations, Energy Clearing for your home or office, and Spatial Arrangement for Prosperity. For more information about the workshop and private sessions, you can contact us at [email protected].
In looking back to the brainstorming process we did early on, it seems that some of the goals we imagined have already been realized, and more are just on the cusp of becoming a reality. Others await us in the future. The best thing is that we love what we are doing, and love doing it together.
Kulwant Kaur Khalsa lives in Los Angeles and Espanola, NM. She has been a Kundalini Yogi and a Sikh since 1971. She worked for many years helping to build the businesses and organizations founded by Yogi Bhajan. She is passionate about Hearts and Hands and other projects that give back to the community.