By Rabindra Rooplall
The Dharm Shala, the humanitarian charity which was founded by the late Pandit Ramsaroop Maraj, celebrated its 90th anniversary last Thursday.
The Pandit was born on November 3, 1889 at Friendship, Wakenaam, on the Essequibo River and was the younger of two brothers.
The “Home of Benevolence for all Races” is located at 140 King Edward and Sussex Streets, Albouystown. It serves nearly 150 meals to the less fortunate daily.
History was written into the records of the Dharm Shala when it was decided that the Institution should be honoured with a visit from Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal. On January 30, 1960, the Princess, on the fourth day of her five-day tour to British Guiana, visited the Dharm Shala, the only poor home of its kind in the Caribbean at the time.
President of the Dharm Shala, Kella Ramsaroop, said that the charity started with the funds of her great grandfather Pandit Ramsaroop Maraj and was taken over by his eldest son, Harry Saran Ramsaroop who had always been devoted to his father and his close confidante over the years. Harry Ramsaroop supported the Pandit throughout in his burning desires to help the less fortunate.
She said on the passing of the Pandit in 1950, Harry (who is her father) was unanimously elected by the legally constituted body of the Hindu Religious Society which manages the Dharm Shala, to be his father’s successor.
Adding that her father’s dedication and humility were key factors to the future success of the Dharm Shala, Kella said that the benevolent organisation now consists of 11 buildings in Georgetown and Berbice. There are two modern concrete buildings. Residents to date enjoy three healthy and varied meals each day and comfortable accommodation.
Harry, who is ill, continues the work of the Institution with his two daughters; Kella Ramsaroop and Pamela Ramsaroop, who is a lawyer in London, are full time voluntary workers earning no salaries.
Kella said that the Dharm Shala depends entirely on donations for its day to day maintenance and upkeep of its Georgetown and Berbice facilities– all solely devoted to humanitarian charity.
She said that after her mother died in 1990, she became a permanent part of the Dharm Shala 18 years ago when she returned to Guyana after spending times in London.
“My whole day is donated to humanitarian charity which is absolutely free. We don’t work from eight to four. Our hours are much longer.”
Adding that no function was held to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Dharm Shala, Kella said that because her father was ill it would not have been right to have a public function without his presence, since he has been managing the entity for the past 61 years.
“He keeps saying that it is not easy but its God’s work.”
When asked if she knew the inspiration behind the building of the Dharm Shala, Kella explained that her great grandfather told the family that while living in Albouystown and being ill he prayed to God. He then had a vision which motivated him to take care of the poor and less fortunate, since he saw many cases of destitution.
Adding that her great grandfather was a jeweler, Kella said he gave up his trade and started a soup kitchen in the beginning, and then he gathered up a group of men and a couple businessmen, most of who were from the Albouystown area and formed an organisation called the Hindu Religious Society which managed the Dharm Shala. “That does not take away from the fact that it is non denomination, since it is the home of benevolence of all races.”
Being a strong believer in divine inspiration, Kella said on many occasion the Dharm Shala would be in dire need and sometimes only through the thought of the institution being in need, “someone would always come along in that time and donate stuff to us that will help in providing for the less fortunate.”
“Over the years, the Dharm Shala has not been unaffected by adverse conditions, but it was founded on divine inspiration and we pray that the God-fearing will continue to support this great charity which not only provided food, shelter and clothing for the penniless paupers on a daily basis.”
At present there are approximately 38 inmates as well as outsiders who are served with hot meals everyday. There is a kitchen, where the food is prepared by a ‘seasoned’ chef, who himself is an inmate of the Dharm Shala.
There is also a Christian Church and a Hindu temple where inmates and outsiders can worship, while special services are held on religious holidays. Churches are held twice weekly at the Hindu temple and once weekly in the St. Francis Chapel.
One of the greatest services provided by the Dharm Shala is the free medical service and treatment. People in need can visit and receive absolutely free medical aids, attention and treatment which is controlled by a Government unit.
There is also a part-time doctor who treats and looks after patients ailing from diseases, etc. There is also a fully functional dispensary where drugs are distributed freely to those in need.
Mar 30, 2020A fine all-round performance from Marlon Dindyal guided G Square Cavaliers to a six-wicket victory over Good Success/Sans Souci/Jaguars combined when the Wakenaam Cricket Committee U19 40-over...
Mar 30, 2020
Mar 29, 2020
Mar 29, 2020
Mar 28, 2020
Mar 28, 2020
I will suggest to persons reading about Guyana’s future and the current election depravities to digest the AFC column... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders On 20 March 2020, a reckless and irresponsible General Assembly (GA) was held by the Organization... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]