CAPE TOWN RESIDENT PROVIDES CARE AND RELIEF AID IN RISHIKESH, INDIA
AFTER DEVASTATING MONSOON FLOODS
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South Africa; Cape Town; July 2013: Pamela Tosh, a Constantia, Cape Town resident and local health and beauty business owner, began her work on the streets of Rishikesh, India’s yoga capital, after recent floods devastated the Northern region of India leaving many homeless.
Pamela left Cape Town on 31 May 2013 for India, to complete a 200 hour yoga teacher training course at Rishikesh Yog Peeth ashram. During the second week of her six week course heavy monsoon rains, the worst in 88 years, fell in Uttarakhand and ravaged two hill states. The holy city of Rishikesh, which is situated on the banks of the River Ganges (Ganga), became the centre of rescue efforts by the government who were flying stranded pilgrims bound for the Himalayan shrines back to the holy city for safety. Many lost their lives and the death toll continues to increase as the aftermath reveals more victims from collapsed buildings and mudslides.
Says Tosh, “The flooding of the Ganga left many of the already homeless to face the harsh elements. Many Babas lost what little personal items they owned and what little they, as well as the poor, receive from begging was reduced to nothing for days. I felt compelled to do what I could at the time and my care work evolved with the help of those I’ve inspired through my blog.”
With the help of donations Pamela was able to fulfill the same service she provides in the Western Cape’s retirement villages and healthcare centres to the spiritual ‘Babas’ and poor on the streets of Rishikesh. Working on dirty streets surrounded by dogs, cows and monkeys, extra care had to be taken that equipment was clean and without any gloves that the necessary precautions were taken to avoid any transfer of bacteria. Pamela trained for 7 months last year doing specialist foot care for the aged before starting her company VITAL TOUCH, and completed a Home Based Care and First Aid Course with St. John in November 2012.
Before her return to the Cape at the end of July Pamela handed out clothing, shoes, towels, soap and other important first aid supplies to those in need. On one occasion food was bought from local shops and handed out, and on another Pamela gifted a donated pair of leather sandals to a Baba (or Sadhu meaning holy man or monk) who had been walking for some time with holes in his plastic flip flops.
“Damage to the soles of the feet is very common as well as dirt embedded in and under the nails which can be the cause of discomfort and all sorts of infections. Many on the streets are without limbs, proper vision or teeth and no hope of aid to improve their condition.”
Tosh explains, “The only way you can ensure that gifts and services are going to the right person for the right purpose is to spend time with them and I’ve found I’m humbled in their presence. When a Baba spent his last 20 Rupees, the equivalent of around 3 to 4 Rands on tea for us after I had finished a foot treatment I had the opportunity to hear some of his life story and became aware of his current unfortunate circumstances. The rains had left him with nothing so I gifted him the funds to buy plastic for a meager shelter.”
Pamela hopes to inspire Western yogis to get active in Karma Yoga, to expand on their current yoga practice towards a more holistic way of living, understanding that what we do has a vital impact on everything around us and a rippling effect in society.