Carwashers of Adelaide

During her Australian tours, Mother doesn’t usually go to Adelaide. It’s too far off Her “beaten track” in Australia. She visits Melbourne, on the south coast, then goes up to Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast. Four places, public programs in each, retreats in two-but nothing in Adelaide, further west on Australia’s southern coast.

But the people in Mother’s satsang group there are people with big hearts, open smiles, eager hands, unflagging energy, and creative ideas.

“We don’t have that much money,” said one of the devotees. “So we thought, what can we give?” They found plenty of answers, and one in particular caught Mother’s fancy when She recently heard about it during darshan one morning in Melbourne: The Car Wash.

Twice a month a good crew of Mother’s Adelaide children gathers to wash cars. The word is out around town, and each time there are both new customers and loyal returnees. “There are two ladies who always show up, competing to be first, sometimes they come half an hour before we’re ready to start!” To the car washers people bring their family cars, their BMW’s, or, in the case of one driver, his big (almost a sixteen-wheeler!) lorry! The customers like the service “We go all out-sometimes there are eight of us, all in our whites, waxing one car, for A$10,” explained one scrubber. “It’s so cheap and so good, people want to give us a tip,” said her companion. “And every car is washed with mantras!” And every cent, of course, builds up the Adelaide Satsang’s contribution to Mother’s works.

All day on a Saturday, the satsang members are out there. They put up two tent-type gazebos (“White, of course,” laughed the man who was describing this); in this shade they set up tables for yet more ways to earn funds for Mother’s works: they sell the grapefruit marmalade one son makes, and the home made jams and fresh garden produce that others donate. There’s fruit juice to quench the thirst of customers while they wait there in the shade for their cars to be cleaned. Flyers about Amma and her charitable activities are available for those customers who ask, and of course group members are eager to talk about her if anyone shows interest.

As if this twice-a-month project were not enough, the car washing idea expanded: why make people come to the public place when the work can be brought to them? There’s a retirement community that has a parking garage underground (this means, out of Adelaide’s heat!). Here, once a month, the car washers come with all their equipment and all their energy, and they pick up a list of cars to be washed. The owners don’t even need to be there. They will have left their keys, the volunteers will move the car into position, wash it, and re-park it, reversed, the sign that it’s been done.

You might think the car washing project is enough. Adelaide’s satsang doesn’t agree. They are constantly on the lookout for other ways to raise funds for Mother’s work. The results are remarkable: one year, they raised A$17,000! The way they did this reflect their creativity and open-heartedness and their readiness to work hard! Here are some of the things they’re doing: They collect clothing, tools, books, anything anyone is ready to pass along and sell it to whoever comes to their garage sale.

A local charity has a program, and Amma’s people rent space to set up tables for selling food; this way their rent money goes to a good cause, and the profit goes to Amma. An artist held an art show; the satsang sold tea to the patrons.

There are designer quality clothes, barely used, offered to the group for reselling. The group is ready to sell whatever members want to make and donate: woollen shawls, art works, meditation stools (with Devi Bhava petals in the upholstered part of the seat), yoga mats (a member makes them in quantities that can be sold to a nearby yoga school).

There are new ideas for items their creators hope might sell well: tiny Amma-doll brooches with Devi Bhava petals inside: “Keep Amma Close to Your Heart”; Amma’s Feet pillow cases; maybe an Amma hanky imprinted with “Let Amma Wipe Your Tears.” People who give massages offer their services and give the income to Mother. Group members catered and served a fancy, three-course Indian Dinner, seating a hundred people who dined by candle light. Another organization was holding a weekend retreat, and called upon the Adelaide Satsang to cater its meals.

Good cooks are ready to demonstrate cooking techniques, share recipes, and produce and sell a special satsang cookbook. The member who works in an animal hospital is ready to offer ‘doggie washes’. “People have come to see that we’re ready to do anything for Amma,” one spokesperson said. “So they think of us when they need something done. They call up and offer us all kinds of jobs. One man invited us to try to sell his Porsche for a nice commission. Unfortunately, we didn’t succeed in the time available, but it was a good try. People call us for housecleaning, yard work,… anything.”

And the good people of Amma’s satsang in Adelaide are quick to seize these opportunities, any chance to serve Mother. “Every dollar counts,” said one spokesperson, commenting that even their satsang meetings are opportunities to earn something for Mother’s charities. Once a month, the members, for a small donation, gather to have supper (they bring food to share) and perhaps to view a video, like the one they themselves made of the puja Swami Ramakrishna did when he visited Adelaide. “We work well together,” the speaker continued. “There’s regular attendance at bhajans two or three times a month, in different people’s homes, and that keeps this happening.”

What strikes you when you talk with these people is their enthusiasm about Amma, about her mission, and about what they can do to help. As they kept saying, “We don’t have much money, so we look for what we can do.” They do an amazing variety of things, and at surprisingly low prices. Said one worker: “Amma wouldn’t want us to be greedy; it’s Her art, the art of really giving people something. So we go by Her principles…” No wonder Amma was so delighted while She was hugging these hardworking sevites from Australia’s southern coast.