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Vienna, March 2021

Last spring, we were pleased to be able to write you a newsletter full of good news. However, no sooner had the letter to you been finished, than the first lockdown caught us completely by surprise.

Perhaps you noticed right away that in this issue of the newsletter, for the first time, there are no new pictures of the children at Hariharananda Balashram Residential School, nor any from the Hariharananda Charitable Health Centres (HCHC). The sad truth is: Since March 2020 no photos have reached us, and after this difficult year we can hardly bring you good news from India – but a big piece of hope!

Our warmest thanks go to you, dear friends of Hand in Hand because we can look with hope to the future! Your faithful support – especially during these stormy times – gives new strength to our vision: Together for a prosperous future on Mother Earth, for a world free of fear, poverty and hardship!

For this, love and compassion are fundamental. Meeting life with compassion can sometimes be very difficult and occasionally requires us to muster all our courage to remain open to our world as it is. But that courage is always worth it, because compassion is life – and "life is not an empty dream!" *
*Paramahamsa Hariharananda

news the three friends indiaWho, among us, would have expected last spring that we were about to experience a pandemic? That it would no longer be possible to meet for a cup of tea? That the children would no longer be able to stay at Balashram? And that operations at the hospital in Jagatpur would suddenly be run and managed by one doctor only?

Last spring, as every year, the appointed Prajnana Mission Commission selected 40 more children from among the poorest of the poor to be admitted at Balashram. Unlike the previous 20 years, these newly selected children have not been able to join Balashram until today, because of the imposed school closure due to the Corona virus. Nevertheless, even this year, an additional 40 children living in extreme poverty were accepted for admission to Balashram.

Dear Friends, let us pause briefly at this point. While the pandemic continues to exacerbate hunger and hardship in the world, our collective commitment will enable a total of 80 children –rescued from the plight of abject poverty – to be admitted at Balashram, hopefully at the start of the new school year in April 2021. The school will accommodate 564 children as of April 2021. Thank you very much for your help!

The government’s preventive measure against the spread of Corona forced the children to leave Balashram but they could later be brought back to the school, class after class. Due to the mental and physical strain on the children, the quarantine/testing regulations and the rampant fear, the integration of the children turned out to be a long and difficult process.
Providing appropriate care for the children at Balashram increases the expenses for health services, and also the costs for tuition to make up for the classes the children have missed. At the same time, the integration of 80 young children, with traumatic experiences of poverty and pandemic, is an unimaginably big task.

The situation in the HCHC health centres is equally difficult. Many sick people in India have been unable to see a doctor since the outbreak of the pandemic because few are available and private hospitals have been converted into Covid centres. The vast majority of doctors at the HCHC health centres are retired and work on a volunteer basis. Thus, because of their age, doctors are themselves part of the Corona risk group. One single doctor has managed the operation of the day hospital in Jagatpur until the beginning of this year! He deserves all our respect. At present, more doctors are there to care for the sick.

With the successful development of our projects, the responsibility of Hand in Hand and Prajnana Mission has also grown, and with Corona it has increased by leaps and bounds. Hand in Hand must grow – and you, dear friends, have shown us, that Hand in Hand can and will grow.

Like rays of sunshine in winter, your support has allowed new perspectives to sprout in the midst of a crisis. You have continued to support our projects financially, contributed more than ever with your ideas, talents and skills, and given us your valuable time.

In September, the first Joy-Cart reached us, shining in all colours of joy, as a symbol of generosity and abundance against hunger in the world. In January, thanks to the collective desire to help, extending from India through Germany, Switzerland and Austria, the first Hand in Hand Joy Concert performing the healing power of meditative music, was organised to counteract the pandemic and its consequences. And, in February, Joy-Fasting for Hand in Hand started in Switzerland and spread to many European countries – because less can be more for everyone – especially, for the children in India.

Stay on the ball with us! When we humans join with compassion and goodwill as a network across all countries of the world, then dreams can come true!

You have proven it: There is no crisis in which the transformation into goodness cannot be awakened. After each winter, no matter how bitter, spring comes colourfully into the country and with it, a hopeful sigh of relief and fresh joy!

With all my heart, thank you
Yours, Peter van Breukelen

Hand in Hand - film english

Hand in Hand - film english