Alan Imbarrato, local coordinator of the World Welfare Association, speaks about the agency's development and proposed programs for the future.
In January of 1974 the official social service program was begun. So basically what we got involved with initially was cleaning up streets, visiting old age homes, nursing homes, mentally retarded homes, prisons, and other institutions of this sort. And then we would do things like, working with this garden project and we had this land and were planting. And then there was this project of architecturally rebuilding this children's playground. After six months of activity around the country what we'd like to do now is begin to focus and to provide more depth, consistency, and also commitment, in which we can actually begin, after this initial period of experience, to pull together everything to where we can provide our own alternative in the field of Social Service. That we ourselves will offer a method and solution, which will he our application of Guru Maharaj Ji's Knowledge. In terms of World Welfare Association we'll eventually become
knowledgeable in those fields and actually make six months to a year commitment in those areas.
One of the directions I think we're going to immediately go into is the direction of developing a halfway house in Denver for prisoners. We have worked with one ex-prisoner who has now become a premie and one prisoner who we've actually met through this Camp George West program, which we've been going to consistently on a week by week basis for the last six months. And through their assistance and counseling plus through the experience we've gained, we're going to perhaps move towards setting up a halfway house which would be completely staffed and run by premies. And then also we hope to develop something in the area of drugs.
Nationally we'll work with the national organizations which work with these particular fields and get familiar with the experts in the field and the solutions that they're offering and become very sophisticated in our knowledge of what is being said today in terms of how to solve drug and/or crime problems. These seem to be the major problems of this country. There's no rehabilitation going on at all in the prison, it's just punishment. Prisons are really outdated institutions which have come from the 13th century--the idea being that someone will shape up because they're confined to a physical space and because their mobility is limited. Therefore an organization that is as well known as Red Cross because we will have provided an alternative - solving problems in the area of Social Service. So basically, our method has yet to really crystallize. We're basically still very young and we have really yet to settle down, so to speak. This is sort of a problem with most premies at the moment, that we're going through this change in ashram structure, and services constantly change, so our emphasis for this summer will be to collect groups of individuals that will center themselves in particular fields. And become very
they will begin to reflect on their experience and through this reflection process they will change themselves and become good individuals. Well, what we're saying is that the process of reflection is not dependent on confining a person to a physical space. What we're saying is through meditation a prisoner can begin to understand himself, and understanding himself he can begin to control himself, control his instincts, control his desires, and become a very loving, pure gentle human being.
And then in the area of drugs we're basically doing massage programs, and massage is really good because it's like people's bodies are very tense and people feel, the reason why they take drugs in many ways is because they want to release the tension in their bodies, they want to feel free and so they take drugs and they get lifted up,they get this sensation. Well, what's so beautiful about massage is that you can achieve this state of relaxation through the communication of the massage and the love that's transmitted and then barriers are totally broken down, with satsang becoming a very spontaneous activity. We just really anticipate also in this area that premies will really have a great impact, because premies really are just overflowing with love.
The problem with most institutions are that they have Social Service workers who are very paternalistic and patronizing, and have no understanding of what it means to humble themselves and come down from their ivory tower or come down from their 6 or 7 years of training which makes them think they're an expert or something. When really all that's required is really an openness and receptivity where you can really give love and no one has to go to school to do that I'm sure.
And this is our basic approach, just to take people wherever they are and just merge with that experience. So we would like to ask all premies who have been Vietnam veterans to come to us if they'd like to form a Vietnam veterans premie
organization, where premies who have this experience of being in Vietnam can then go to people on the basis of common experience. And then from that, they can begin to give satsang and begin to cure the psychological and emotional damage or destruction that occurred.
Another area I hope to really develop a project in concerns the problems of housewives. Housewives face really fundamental and profound questions all the time in terms of raising children and providing for a home. Part of their inability to cope with the situation is the basic inability to cope with the mystery of life or what the marvel of this child is and how to give the proper guidance and meet the needs of this child. This requires a basic understanding of what the purpose of life is, how life develops. They feel so empty so many times in their life because they often just sit home all day and have nothing to do and you know what they'll do is they'll have these women's organizations or bridge clubs or tea parties or gold clubs or something. And we hope that premie mothers will become active in this area. We could train premie mothers and have the Shri Hans Educational people take this course, and develop a nutrition course which can go to these women's organizations and set up programs with them, and begin to relate and open up this whole area.
We must begin to understand that we're just like a fruit tree, we produce fruits but a fruit tree cannot eat its own fruits. We want premies to understand that once you receive this Knowledge it's to be developed to the point of becoming a servant to humanity for that love. So we're asking premies to really form into social service groups like prison groups. We'll have different groups who will have their own forms, their own consciousness, and it won't just be like different people all the time, it will be like a core and people will then plug into that core.
We're also going to be developing this other area which will be called Special Projects and this will involve premies working with migrant workers who will start by joining their communities, start picking with them and go on, and then move with the community child care centers or whatever their skills might be, Or sending premies to an Indian reservation and just working with them and just merging with that experience. Or certain premies going out to countries like India, or having premies working in Kenya, working with other premies who are already in Kenya and just helping them serve the people there, Or just working with premies in Bihar, India, helping to build hospitals and schools and clinics and things like this. This is why we are really trying to encourage premies to think in terms of a larger perspective in time, because Guru Maharaj Ji has said the Divine United Organization will feed, clothe, and shelter the world and from all indications of the way Guru Maharaj Ji works, He doesn't just say things and not really mean them. So we have to begin to get skills which will actually help people all over the world. Especially Americans, who come from the richest country, really have a responsibility and a duty to our brothers and sisters all around the world to share these resources and to share this love and this Knowledge. If premies want to help out or begin to plug into these projects they should contact us at Room 217 in the Kittredge Building and we'll sit down with each person and discuss their experience, discuss their skills, discuss what they want to do, and eventually we'll have training programs for people, People interested in massage, in working with drug addicts, should contact us immediately, and people interested in working with prisoners should also contact us. There's other areas that we're going to develop, but not as much right now so premies should just contact us here.