Messages of hope from Portugal
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Sri Chinmoy Centres throughout the world have sought simple, humble ways to make the situation more tolerable. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, we offered food from our restaurants in the USA and Europe to local hospital doctors and nurses. Sri Chinmoy founded the Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles humanitarian organisation in 1991, where members of the Sri Chinmoy Centres could work together on humanitarian projects such as these.
One initiative that has brought a lot of joy: sharing large colourful banners with messages of hope, perseverance and encouragement from Sri Chinmoy's writings.
It was first started in Italy, and since then it has become an international project. The following stories are related by two members of our Sri Chinmoy Centres in Portugal:
Inspiring Messages of Hope for Children During A Global Pandemic
by Simone Tome, a professor at University of Porto, and graduate student Vera Marques
In Portugal, we were energized by the international Happiness-Banners initiative, and we contacted schools, hospitals and homes for the elderly to see if they would like to have a banner. Five pioneer Portuguese primary and secondary schools have chosen to participate in the project so far. Each institution made its own selection from a group of 27 aphorisms, and these aphorisms were printed on banners in different colors of the rainbow.
Even though it was already the end of the school year, after exams and while final meetings were still taking place, ceremonies were organized for the delivery of the banners in two of the participating schools. At one of the school ceremonies which took place on the last day of classes, there were students singing and playing Sri Chinmoy's song, Your Heart is as Beautiful as the Rainbow. They had prepared to perform in record time, as they had only one day to learn and rehearse the song.
As I listened to this melody, I felt as if I were rocked, enveloped in an inner peace, and felt so happy to see my students transmitting, in such a harmonious way, this message of hope that remains in our hearts. Many thanks to the humanitarian organization for these moments.
There were students at schools that received the banners who were inspired to show what they experienced inwardly from the messages of hope on the Banners.
Even after the school year ended, there were students who made drawings with their own encouraging messages to give to children who are patients at the Raisa Gorbacheva Memorial Institute of Oncology in St. Petersburg, Russia. (The Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles organization has offered much medical equipment and many medical supplies to the Institute over the past two decades, and maintains an ongoing relationship with staff there.)
Comments by Teachers at Participating Schools
When the clouds shake our certainties, a breeze of strength and hope brought by Sri Chinmoy's inner peace comes to heal our hearts and souls
Professor Helena Fonseca
I felt an inner strength that made me feel that everything in life is worth it. Every day is born to present us with so many opportunities! Let us allow ourselves to be carried away by the breeze of peace and love and by the current of harmony, hope and goodness and, in this way, we build, day after day, a more fraternal and colorful world. This initiative is a hymn to solidarity and a call to do well.
Professor Júlia Miranda
“It was with great pleasure that I attended the session to hand over the banner presented by the organization Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles. This banner will be an instrument for changing the school climate, by stimulating positive feelings such as joy, kindness, happiness and hope”.
Professor Conceição Vasconcelos
(the messages on the banners) provided students, in class assembly, with true moments of community. They were able to analyze and reflect on various subjects, such as: children's rights; the importance of play to our ability to grow and be happy; the Importance of interaction with others; our need to dream and strive to achieve our goals; the impact that a simple smile can have on another; and the acceptance of the others, with all their differences.
In your meditation you see beyond the superficial distinctions of race, sex, language or religion, as the Charter encourages us to do. You concentrate on the truths and the ideals which unite all mankind: the longing for peace, the need for compassion, the search for tolerance and understanding among men and women of all nations.
United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar 1
after meditating in his private office with Sri Chinmoy on January 13, 1983
It is very beautiful to see how these initiatives are making children feel part of a global family, fulfilling the principles of the UN in such a natural and simple way. Inspired by the phrases of hope on the banners that their schools received, they took action, drawing pictures with messages to make another human being happy.
This is a golden opportunity, also, for the children who offer these drawings, as they offer their good will and encouragement to human beings who are like them but who find themselves on the other side of the world, in totally different circumstances.
This is a story of UN principles in action, as is Sri Chinmoy's legacy. His life and work are an exceptional testimony to the ideals of the United Nations and are also the source of inspiration behind this initiative of Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles.
- 1. Sri Chinmoy (1995). The Garland of Nation-Souls: Complete Talks at the United Nations. Florida: Health Communications, Inc.