Yet another trip to Fiji in exactly six months! During the visit of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in the subtle form, in September 2017, He had performed the auspicious Bhoomi Puja for a Medical Centre, and had willed it should be constructed within six months! His one word is enough for devoted families like the Tappoos in Fiji to resign everything else, and ensure His word is honoured and executed. And so Swami’s entourage which included Dr Satish Babu, his wife Dr Archana, his son Dhruv, set off on a very long flight across the Pacific Ocean to reach the Fiji Islands on April 20th. A connecting flight on the afternoon of April 21st, meant an overnight at Singapore. The entourage reached Nadi in the wee hours of April 22, and were driven to Suva. After a three-hour journey, everyone reached the residence of Sri Mahendra Tappoo. His wife Smt Maya Tappoo, and their entire family which included son Sumeet, daughter-in-law Dr Krupali, and daughter, little Saisha welcomed the entourage. It was a home coming for everyone, as the Tappoo family’s hospitality is to be experienced. Their daughter Sheetal, son-in-law Chetan Punja and their little son Siddhanth were also present, equally excited and exuding warmth! A traditional South Indian breakfast of Idli and Sambhar greeted everyone, thereafter Swami’s entourage headed back to their hotel to rest, only to emerge around 6 p.m. from their rooms. They were then driven to the Tappoo residence. As it was the 65th Birthday of Sri Mahendra Tappoo, close family and friends had gathered. Swami came out of His room amidst a soulful Bhajan ‘Pranava Swaroopa Pahi Gajanana’ by Sumeet. After a couple of Bhajans, Swami asked Sri Mahendra Tappoo to sing as well. A melodious singer, Mahen Bhai, as he is fondly called by everyone, sang the song ‘Aisa Do Vardan Prabhu’. Through the lyrics of the song, the singer asks God for a boon which would grant him the wish, that he would never forget the name of His sweet Lord in all births. Mahen Bhai broke down as Swami asked him to also explain the meaning of the song. Swami then spoke about the human birth, which is the most precious. “Out of the 84 lakh births that one may take, you have attained the proximity of the Lord in this birth as a human being, do not squander it!”
Swami commanded Mahen Bhai to speak. He vividly narrated his journey to Sai, and how his family came to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in 1978. Swami then asked him to talk about his father, his early days in Fiji, and all the challenges he underwent in those days. It was an intimate evening with Swami, who advised everyone that health, education and nutrition should be the three pillars of His continuing mission in Fiji. A Birthday cake was cut, Mangala Arati was offered, and thereafter dinner Prasadam was served to all.
It was the morning of April 23. A little humid, and no rains thankfully meant that the relentless team led by Brother Sumeet, his cousin Brother Rimal Tappoo could progress with the finishing touches for the Medical Centre. A cyclone which hit Suva a few weeks ago had hampered the swift completion. But like it is said, no one or nothing can stop good work, for good is God! It was also a morning of excitement, as Swami was going to see all the children who underwent heart procedures during the past few days by an international team of paramedics from USA Oman, Australia and of course the team from Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital, Naya Raipur. After breakfast, Swami and His entourage which included Dr Ashish Katewa, Director – Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital, Naya Raipur and Dr Shaun Setty, a leading pediatric surgeon from the United States of America proceeded to the Albert Hall, wading through city traffic. 27 procedures were performed by a team of specialists. Little hearts were mended, and their hearts pounding with joy knew no bounds. Some were very small, as young as two months, and their parents, grand parents and all their loved ones had also gathered at the venue. Looking at a room full of balloons and little children was a feast to the eyes, a perfect party! A party to celebrate the gift of life.
Dr Krupali Tappoo welcomed the gathering and spoke about how joyful the Sai Prema Foundation was that morning, for they had been given the opportunity to serve these little children. She invited Sri C Sreenivas to speak next, and he stressed on the importance of the rich memories of life. He said, “This moment is very precious as these children have received the gift of life. What is important in Sanjeevani is that each soul is touched by the divine! An act of divine will has made these little children what they are, and will define what they will be!”
Children who underwent surgeries, and their parents were called to speak. It was a very emotional morning, and there was not a dry eye in the room when each of them walked up and submitted their gratitude emotionally. After all, they had all received the most precious gift, life itself!
Dr Ashish Katewa was invited next to speak. He is perhaps one of the very few doctors in the world, having performed 5000 pediatric cardiac surgeries! He hoped for Fiji’s very own pediatric team, and expressed his happiness as this would manifest into reality, with the first lady Doctor from Fiji heading to Raipur this week for a three-month training programme.
Dr Shaun Setty who spoke next, expressed his gratitude to a lot of people at the outset, and highlighted one story. He had asked one of the children who underwent surgery how he felt, the day he came for a diagnosis. The child said he felt ok, not realising that he was actually not ok and didn’t know what it was to be ok! After the third day of surgery, the child was seen walking around so much, and when he was asked again how he felt, he simply replied ‘I feel great!’ An overwhelmed Dr Setty expressed his joy and gratitude to Swami as he was able to touch a few lives during this trip to Fiji.
A little girl, all of 11 or so, born with a visual and hearing impairment, had her heart mended and was there to express her gratitude through gestures. This touched Swami’s motherly heart who blessed her with a special gift of His pendant on a chain, and told her, in gestures, “Baba is your friend”. This brought tears to many spectators that included her father who broke down while thanking Swami, and the whole team of Sai Prema Foundation.
Dr Maryann who would be going to Raipur for a three month training, was invited to say a few words. She expressed her excitement for the unique opportunity of getting trained for free, and looked forward to return to Fiji and serve the children of the country. Dr Maryann said that ‘Love all and serve all’ is the same principle of Christ as well!
Swami in His message to all gathered said that children are the seeds of the future. “Just like a farmer needs to protect the seeds, so he gets a good harvest later, society needs to protect the children for a better society. Children are the collective responsibility of society. Treat them as God’s property in your care, they need to be brought up well. Be good parents, so your children can become good citizens and serve society.”
The gift of life certificates were then handed over to all the children. Swami took a group photograph with everyone while cutting a large cake, and brought the morning session to a close. Swami returned with His entourage to the Tappoo residence, and He urged everyone to catch up on rest and sleep in the evening due to the new time zone.