In today’s hectic and fast-paced world, the most valuable commodity is time. We find that 24 hours are insufficient to fit in everything, which cuts into time we spend with those we cherish.

Ironically, the people with ample time are the unhappiest and they are the ones who desire something much more valuable, that is, company. As an essential aspect of service in preparation for the Holy Sacrament, this year’s Confirmation batch decided to provide company and comfort to the orphans, lepers and elderly at the Mukta Jeevan Ashram (Asangaon), run by the Helpers of Mary.

Besides the confirmandees, the outreach programme was open to the youth too. On Sunday, 28th January we promptly left at 6.30am in a bus bursting with music and joy, and an enriching bonding experience. However, the real treat was still waiting us at the ashram.

First, we paid a visit to the old age home. The way the faces of the residents lit up, made us feel like the heralds of God himself. A few minutes of our time traded in for limitless joy, of touching hearts, was a bargain and a half.

Our next stop, the lepers’ treatment centre and residence. To our pleasant surprise, one of the patients entertained us with an impromptu and outstanding performance on the tabla. His ailment did not inhibit him. What we witnessed greatly inspired us, and set us thinking how much we can achieve even with our individual limitations.

Next, we interacted with the orphans. Their difficulties and experiences moved us. We were filled with sadness and compassion, but hopeful that they will have a brighter future.

We met inspiring novices too. While conversing with them, we discovered their true love for God and his work, and their selfless motivation in doing what they do: simply bringing joy to others that are less fortunate.

Finally, we chanced upon the workshops for the handicapped. The workshop is part of their treatment and a way to spread the message of virtuousness. With the never ceasing efforts of the Helpers of Mary, these virtues are alive every day at the Ashram.

Assembling at the chapel for mass, the candidates put together their skills to organise a beautiful choir and rousingly read the liturgy. After the mass, we broke into our home-packed lunch. This gave us an opportunity to discover the natural beauty of the Ashram—the farm, the greenery and the nearby train tracks, were all exciting prospects. The sense of community heightened with the team-building games we played in a fierce competitive spirit (mainly to win Shoppers’ Stop coupons).

Alas! It was time to say goodbye and thank the gracious sisters for a warm, friendly stay. It was a Sunday well spent.

Jai Parera & Rhea Louis
(Andrean Youth Movement)