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BAL NAVIS CENTER & DR VINDHYA PERSAUD
Center for Abused Children in Guyana
I first found out about the Bal Navis Center in the Berbice area of Guyana through my friendship with Pandit Jagmohan Persaud who is the Junior Vice President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha. He officiates yagnas in Minneapolis, Minnesota from time to time. When he was here last December, he showed a beautiful picture of the facility. While he was here, a number of devotees from Vishu Mandir donated money towards the completion of the center.
Pandit Jagmohan's guru is Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud, the father of Dr. Vindhya Persaud. She became President of the Guyana HIndu Dharmic Saba on June 17, 2013, a couple of months after the death of her father. She is one amazing woman. Not only is she a medical doctor but she is a MP in the Guyanese Parliament. Pandit Reepu was the Minister of Agriculture and also a MP in the Parliament. He had the role of Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and numerous other political roles in Guyana. He was a rare individual who could live in both the spiritual world and the political world and do a lot of good in both worlds.
It was a sad month for many of us in Minnesota when her father passed away on April 7, 2013. We were grieving his death and the death of a young Hindu man who died in a tragic auto accident. The young man was in his 20's and his parents owned a prominent Grocery-Auto-Video-U-Haul Rental business in the Caribbean community in Minneapolis. Pandit Jagmohan was also grieving the loss of his father who had died a few months earlier.
This beautiful center is a tribute to the greatness of Pandit Reepu. His daughter carries on his vision as President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Saba, an educational, social and spiritual organization which developed this center along with the help of Guyanese President Ramotaur who donated the land for the center. Sixty children are able to live at the center while their mothers receive training so that they can be self supporting. Unfortunately their fathers had abused them physically and mentally. The mothers also were victims of domestic violence.
I worked as a Child's Advocate at a women's shelter in Bemidji, Minnesota as part of my Social Work internship training. The fathers would bang on the windows of the shelter. The police would be called when this happened. The children would tell me their stories of abuse. We often helped the women get jobs or training. The children appreciated the art projects and music I would present to them. They often were not used to so much attention from an adult who developed creative activities for them.
On May 5, 2014 the Bal Navis Center had an opening ceremony. Staff were hired recently for the center. Now the center has become a reality for Guyanese women and children of all backgrounds and faiths. The facility has bunk beds for the children. The mothers are learning new, positive skills so that they can be self supporting.
Dr. Vindhya says people called her about the domestic violence situation in Guyana, so she decided to help develop this center for both women and children to help those victims of abuse. Dr. Vindhya does not just talk about doing something constructive about the situation. She and many others joined together to develop the center in Guyana. She had a women's gathering this year to honor the efforts of great women who have done constructive things in Guyana to help the cause of the betterment of womankind in Guyana. The center needs to be supported along with these great women. You can go to the Saba's face book page and leave a private message to find out how you can donate your time or money towards the center.
Pandit Jagmohan will be in Minneapolis conducting a Shiva Yagna, December 8th to 14th, at the Vishnu Mandir, 4022 N. Washington Avenue in North Minneapolis. The yagna starts at 6:30 p.m. nightly and 10 a.m. on Sunday. He can give you information on the center while he is here and how you can help financially support the center. Christmas is a time of love and giving for many people. This is an opportunity to give women and children a better life. There is nothing greater than improving the lives of others.
A number of Hindu pandits are working on the domestic violence issue in Guyana and the United States. Educating youth about alternatives to violence is very important. Men talking to other men is also very important. We have built facilities, but we also need to address the issues involved on why abuse is going on in families. Unfortunately many think corporal punishment is acceptable as a form of discipline. It is not acceptable. It only teaches youth that violence is an acceptable solution to solving problems in relationships. Teaching social and communication skills is so important in helping improve this situation. Real men and women talk things out in a constructive way rather than using violence to get their way. Parenting classes are crucial for youth, so that they have positive alternatives when faced with domestic situations. Conflict resolution is not taught in the schools and spiritual communities enough. I salute these great people who are working to improve the situation. It will take both men and women working together to improve the lives of women and children all over the world.
JAI SHRI DR. VINDHYA! JAI SHRI GUYANA HINDU DHARMIC SABA! JAI SHRI PANDIT REEPU!