What if you could save a life, or even many lives, just by drinking one cup of coffee less a day! We are not quizzing you. We, the founders of a new charitable hospital in the south Indian state of Karnataka would like to share with you how to just do that: pamper yourself a little less so as to provide medical facilities to the most deserving people in that part of the world.
Sai Aashraya’s super specialty hospital, which just broke ground, will offer end-to-end high quality, loving and holistic medical care (from diagnostics, treatment, medicines & post-treatment care) free of charge to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. It will be a net-zero-waste campus with state-of-the-art medical and non-medical facilities.
To make this hospital a reality, we have adopted a unique love-based model that we have already found much success with, in our previous charitable ventures, which includes giving healthy breakfast every morning to children from disadvantaged families.
What is the specialty of this model? Here, one does not donate because one has a disposable surplus; instead, one has to forego a little bit of one’s daily indulgences like coffee. Remember that is where this article started. It could be reducing habitual indulgences, slimming down your wardrobe or, why not, standing a few minutes less under the shower! Every cent saved adds up to monetary surpluses in the course of time. With your loving participation, the dream hospital comes alive and cures humanity. Isn’t that lovely!
Thus the model doesn’t just call on those with the ability to donate money to do so; instead, it requires them to get involved, deeply, in the service they are contributing to, and to commit to only contribute money they carve out from leading a more thoughtful life than they previously did.
The concept is beautifully named as Ceiling on Desires (COD). ‘Ceiling on Desires (COD)’ is not wishful thinking. It is a lifestyle change that might prove to be life-changing! It aims not just to transform the receiver, but the giver too. Sai Aashraya does not accept contributions given unfeelingly from a sitting bank balance or from net worth. Instead, contributors are encouraged to practice “thoughtful living, where every current need and action are analyzed and questioned”. Such ‘self-aware’ living with an intent to better a fellow-being’s life is nothing but a carving of the contributor’s heart. Hence, they are packed with love and concern – the stuff miracles are made of.
Let us drill down further. Making your cuppa at home is sure cheaper than buying that latte at a coffee shop. You really don’t need the faucet to keep gushing water all the time when you are shaving or brushing. Maybe you can afford to pay a hefty electricity bill, but now that you know COD, you carefully switch off all the lights before you leave the house. When such a saving goes to ameliorate the hardships of poor patients, your heart is filled with joy and peace too deep for words. “The transformation of the giver is what enables the transformation of the receiver. Over time, this transformation leads the giver to shed most of the conditioned habits & desires and live a lighter life in joy and love while realizing that there is no receiver or giver, and that all are one”.
Now comes the crux. As a matter of principle, Sai Aashraya only accepts contributions derived out of the ‘Ceiling on Desires’ lifestyle. Or contributors can give their time, diligent efforts and serve on the ground alongside their existing and ever expanding volunteer pool. Sai Aashraya prefers the latter, so the contributors can truly witness the transformations of the receivers, first hand. We believe the Sai Aashraya platform uniquely marries opportunities to serve people for whom care has hardly reached and as a result for the contributors to truly experience the joy, love and the transformations.
The seeds of Sai Aashraya were sown in 2016. I traveled to the Syrian border to serve people, especially children affected by the civil war. I had taken food, water and relief material to the children, many of whom were rendered orphans. In that heart wrenching place, I realized the power of just that one meal, the smile it brought to those children clutching at every little straw. When I was done and was getting ready to leave, a little Syrian child asked me, “Uncle, do you also serve food to children in India?” A potent question at that! Stirred by that question, I returned to Bangalore and we began an NGO, you know the name now – it is indeed ‘Sai Aashraya’.
We began by serving breakfast to school going children living in the city’s slums. Sai Aashraya has come a long way since then. Now it offers other services such as, EduCare, SocioCare, Holistic Health Care alongside 24×7 Food & Nutrition. Serving healthy food 24×7, from breakfast for slum children, lunch, dinner for people in the impoverished neighborhoods and mid-night to early morning food service for truck drivers driving throughout the day. By June 2021, Sai Aashraya had served more than 3 million meals and helped transform the lives of tens of thousands of children and people. Once the food part was taken care of, people found the drive to search for work. Sai Aashraya’s efforts in motivating and connecting them to the right people, enabled them to find work. Eventually they managed to come out of most hardships, and actually pushed Sai Aashraya to serve in other places where there was a need to be there for the people, and transform their lives in a meaningful way, such as:
- Serving the residents of a leprosy affected village in Dharmapuri District (Tamilnadu, India). The people there struggled with poor nutrition and health while battling the physical pain, and the stigma associated with leprosy. Sai Aashraya embraced this village with love 4 years ago; ever since has been providing comprehensive care.
- Running super-specialty medical camps in Bangalore (Karnataka) and in Tawang District, (Arunachal Pradesh). The latter is a challenging Seva in remote villages, in harsh terrain at an altitude of over 14,000 feet. Many of the people had never visited a doctor in their lives before Sai Aashraya came on the scene. The medical camps also include a self-contained diagnostics facility. From diagnostics, treatment, medicines to post-treatment care, all services are provided for free of cost at these camps.
- Adopting villages around Sai Aashraya’s service locations and bringing about self-sustainability to its residents. Five remote villages around Tawang District (Arunachal Pradesh) near the Indo-China border, and a leprosy affected village in Dharmapuri District, Tamilnadu have been adopted. Sai Aashraya through all the Medical Camps in Bangalore, Dharmapuri, and Arunachal Pradesh has served over 55,000 patients in the most loving and holistic way.
We realized medical camps inherently could not provide sustained or specialized treatment, when required. Not many people can afford treatment in a conventional hospital. All attempts at tying up with different private hospitals and charitable institutions became increasingly challenging. As we treated more patients, we identified more children and elders who needed surgeries. Those were the hardest times and that is when the idea of having our own super specialty hospital was conceived. With persistent efforts, the Government of Karnataka allotted us 5 acres of land at a subsidized cost and we are now at the cusp of starting the construction of this state of the art super specialty hospital. All services from diagnostics, treatment, medicines and post-treatment care will be rendered with love and absolutely free of charge here. The work is on at a feverish pace, so to say!
The hospital will be constructed in a place about an hour from Bangalore (about 50 kilometers away). The architectural and structural designs are ready. The foundation stone has been laid and the construction will start soon.
The hospital’s primary focus will be on cardiology (adult & pediatric) and mother & child care (OB/GYN). This will be a state-of-the-art tertiary facility with 220 beds. There will be two pharmacies on campus, and there will be a 24-hour kitchen. All food and medicine will be provided to patients and their families as well as to staff, free of charge. The campus will also provide free accommodation for resident and visiting doctors, nursing staff, volunteers and patient attendants. A state of the art telemedicine center in the hospital will ensure continuous care, and will serve as a robust follow up mechanism.
The campus will be a green facility with net-zero energy use. Solar energy will meet most of the energy requirements, and all power generated beyond the hospital’s needs will be returned to the grid. There will also be efficient recycling and reuse facilities on the hospital campus.
The hospital would focus on the underserved communities in the rural areas surrounding the hospital. Sai Aashraya’s medical camps in Bangalore, Dharmapuri, and Tawang District in Arunachal Pradesh will also feed critical care patients to the hospital. With time, 10-20 bed satellite medical facilities will be established in Sai Aashraya’s adopted villages to serve people better and to act as feeders to this Hospital. There will be weekly medical camps that will be conducted at the hospital’s construction site. Patient data from these camps and from the prior medical camps will help us identify patients needing surgeries right from the day when the hospital is inaugurated.
The hospital is built on love from the ground up. The contributors’ savings from living the ‘Ceiling on Desires’ lifestyle, which are a carving of their heart, powers the purchase of all the raw materials and equipment. Workers that build the hospital will be provided free food, safety gear, medical care, support for their family and more. With most of their needs taken care of, they engage in the construction with a complete sense of identification and in joy and love.
Notably, the hospital will not have a billing counter or a donation box. The patients will feel at ease from the moment they step into the hospital and experience the love and care of the staff. The cure for the patients begins right from these first steps. The hospital is envisaged more as a ‘temple of healing’ than a conventional hospital. The hospital is expected to be completed and get functional within 15-18 months (March 2023).
We offer our gratitude to all supporters and welcome you on board. As you work to put a ceiling on your desires and work in your own capacity with love to uplift our fellow beings, Sai Aashraya believes, this will also mark the beginning of your journey within, towards equanimity, abundance, joy and love – experientially, through your own daily life activities. Life becomes richer and deeper.
Sai Aashraya also truly believes that the abundance of love in people’s hearts will power this love based holistic care model not just to sustain but also spawn many more such hospitals, both in India and all around the world. Join us. Let’s journey together in love. Let your heart prevail.
For more up-to-date information and status, we encourage you to visit our sites – http://www.SaiAashraya.org and http://www.youtube.com/
SaiPrasad and Sarika are a husband and wife team that founded SaiAashraya Trust, an NGO based out of Bangalore, India. They were instrumental in defining the unique platform to serve and share Love. Today, a variety of services (Food & Nutrition, Educare, SocioCare, Medicare) are provided to the underserved communities and in diverse & challenging locations through nothing but pure LOVE. Volunteers and contributors practice a unique ‘Ceiling on Desires (COD)’ daily lives and find joy & bliss in the convergence of lower & lower desires and sharing (giving & receiving) LOVE. Join & uncover your true life journey – SaiAashraya.org
SaiPrasad and Sarika believe LOVE is the only model that can truly scale reaches beyond boundaries and create lasting transformations & impacts. And have dedicated their every breath into Sai Aashraya. Saiprasad is very grateful to the Indiaspora forum and Mr. MR for spotting him and the ‘love-model’ early and inspiring his journey further. Saiprasad was an invited guest at the 2017 Indiaspora Leadership Forum and at the 2018 Laureates and Leaders conference in Amman, Jordan