Diana Dunningham Chapotin – France
The Theosophical Order of Service seems to have the wind in its sails. After a year of upbeat and happy centennial celebrations around the world, it has moved into its second century of work with vigour and enthusiasm. The international secretary reports that the Plan of Action prepared in 2008 by Dorothy Bell after consultation with the members is proving valuable in guiding the organisation’s work. The two-monthly electronic newsletter and the website that were the first items of the Plan to be developed have generated a significant increase in interest in service work. The TOS in Tanzania, coordinated by Mrs Deepa Kapur, is now collaborating actively with the international team, and correspondence has started with fledgling groups in Portugal, Finland, Mexico and Hungary. A TOS start-up package, updated and expanded by Ananya Rajan, will shortly be available on the TOS’s website at http://international.theoservice.org. A very practical and helpful booklet entitled Helping the Dying has been written by Mrs Nelda Samarel and will be distributed internationally this year.
The team of workers at international level is growing steadily. The bright faces of thirteen volunteers are now featured on the TOS website with their roles outlined (http://international.theoservice.org/whoarewe.html).
International support of TOS projects in developing countries is growing. The TOS in the USA is promoting and contributing again to the international matching grant programme it initiated last year with the kind help of the Kern Foundation in support of the Golden Link School, a theosophically oriented educational establishment from kindergarten to secondary level, in the Philippines. The Theosophical Order of Service Foundation in the Philippines has extended this school this year by opening a modest college department. The government-approved college includes a course on Theosophy in its curriculum. The Golden Link College deserves a ‘good news’ report in its own right. So does the TOS in India which has over a hundred active groups and new ones springing up every year.
International cooperation is taking still other forms. In the past ten years, the TOS in England has organised the knitting of over 8,000 teddies for children in hospital. Members of the TOS in Italy have now joined the project and are sending big batches to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania for the Heart Babies project supported by the local TOS. Members in England, New Zealand and Australia are helping with the purchase of travel kits for the children being flown to India for surgery. All this happy collaboration across borders and oceans is heart-warming!
Service takes many forms. There is direct, hands-on action like distributing food to the poor. There is advocacy work to achieve the system-wide changes necessary to end hunger. There is self-purification so that social action is as effective as possible. There is education on the spiritual principles that can gradually transform society. All these forms of service have their place within the TOS. None is superior to another. TOS members find great joy in a multi-level, balanced approach to making Theosophy a positive force in the world. May they continue to bring us good news of their activities….