Sri Santhi Ashram welcomes the community around it with open arms, to benefit from the initiatives of social development in Vizag.
A school for local children and for those with special needs, Santhi Ashram was started by Sri Omkar Swami ji. Hailing from Vizag and educated at the CBM High School, his work took him to Thotapalli. There he established the Shanti Ashram over 2 acres of land, a space which grew to become 100 acres and today houses 150 orphaned children and elderly people.
Swamiji then returned to Visakhapatnam, where the beach allured him with its rhythm. He would often ask his disciples, “The ocean is always meditating, its waves constantly chanting the Omkaram, why don’t you meditate too?” By the beach at Lawson’s Bay Colony, Santhi Ashram was set up, on 2 acres of land provided by Sri Annadanam Purushottam. Established in 1934, it promotes the idea of oneness among all religions and meditation.
Situated beside Jalaripeta, Swamiji saw how ration was difficult to come by, medical facilities for the community were lacking and people were illiterate. Serving the neighbourhood, Santhi Ashram thus started a ration depot, a clinic, a hospital and night schooling.
The Gurukul was started in 1966 with the agenda of teaching prahalad suktam, adhyatmik bhavam, and inculcating social service in kids. Free education was offered to approximately 500 children from the Jalaripeta area. With classes up to fifth standard when it started, by 1972, they added sixth standard, expanding to seventh standard in 1975. In 2018, they even added 8,9 and 10 classes for girls. Digital education is being offered from 1990, through a VCR and TV that was donated. Along with regular schooling for kids, the Omkar Lions School for the Deaf was also started.
With Santhi Ashram having earned a place in the hearts of all those who visit it, one often wonders about the difficulties. Sri Anjaneyulu, Headmaster of the school and Swamiji’s disciple since he was four years old, shares the hurdles. “Aid isn’t constant, while education is an everyday process. Getting committed teachers is difficult as the honorarium we can offer is low.” While this is the case with the school that follows the state pattern, challenges for the Omkar Lions School for the Deaf are looming too.
Today, the school has 150-170 kids of which 100 kids stay on campus. Grants from the central government helped for some time, but now the entire school runs on donations. Providing free education, accommodation, and food, based on donations is not easy. Yet, the ashram continues to teach these children, despite high times and low. “Our God is our light. Whenever we face a dire need, help always comes forth at the right time. Like last month, we were thinking that computers would be useful for the children, and someone came forth to donate.”
How to support Santhi Ashram in Vizag?
One can choose to volunteer their time, offer support by providing uniforms and residence for a child at Rs. 5000 per year, or give a one-time donation.
Contact Sri DVR Anjaneyulu at 9441341059