Diana Chapotin – France
From the Theosophical Order of Service
As private citizens, Theosophists are very active in humanitarian service work.The role of the Theosophical Order of Service (TOS) is to provide a framework in which they can undertake projects in each other’s company, where individual initiatives can be strengthened by collaborative action and advocacy. The TOS provides a forum where Theosophists can seek the light that Theosophical principles shed on issues of contemporary concern. It is a place where social action as spiritual practice is valued and nurtured. All students of Theosophy are welcome to participate in its projects, whether they are members of a Theosophical organisation or not.
Founded in 1908, the TOS is active today, to varying degrees, in 30 countries. Anyone who reads the TOS’s electronic newsletter will have noticed the wide variety of service projects engaged in. For example, through more than 100 groups spread across India, the TOS runs schools, coaching classes, pre-primary learning centres, adult literacy classes, boarding establishments for the blind, for orphans and the aged, vocational training centres for women, free medical dispensaries and eye treatment as well as naturopathy, acupressure, ayurvedic treatment and yoga therapy centres.
In the past few years, the TOS in Chennai has facilitated free eye checks for over 10,000 underprivileged children and adults.
The TOS’s humanitarian projects are developed with an eye to the long term autonomy and well-being of those helped. For example, the TOS in the Philippines has adopted entire villages, helping them toward self-sufficiency through livelihood training, interest free loans, health, nutrition and medical intervention, parenting skills and values programmes.
In line with the TOS’s policy of helping needy communities towards autonomy, the TOS in Hungary has adopted a northern village with a large contingent of Roms. Members visit the village as often as possible, camping there each summer.They are collaborating with the town’s social workers to help the Roms with clothing, child care material, employment opportunities and so on.
As a response to the current famine in the Horn of Africa, the TOS in Kenya adopted a village in August 2011, providing staple food items for six months. With the support of TOS groups around the world, a bore hole has been constructed to provide water. Seedlings and fruit trees are being given. The next step is to provide the villagers with solar lighting.
There is no proselytizing of Theosophical doctrine in the Theosophical Order of Service’s work but members recognize the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of children’s growth in the educational programs offered.
TOS educational programs attempt to increase awareness of global issues.
TOS groups are free to select their own projects.
TOS members in Brisbane, Australia, help transform industrial wasteland into a park.
Tertiary level classes have been started in a slum area in the Philippines where formal courses in Theosophy are offered.
Members in the USA attend a workshop on dealing with the difficult changes life brings with courage and openness, moving from a “curing” mode to a “healing” mode.
Many dozens of groups around the world perform the TOS’s healing ritual. This is one of the TOS’s most widespread activities.
On the TOS’s website, there is a “start-up kit” for those interested in forming a new TOS group: http://international.theoservice.org/members/startupkit/startupkit.html. The website contains resource material (articles, interviews, inspiring quotations…) freely available for use in TS magazines and at branch meetings.
If you would like to join us in our attempts to make Theosophical teachings of transformative value in the world, you are most welcome!