As we celebrate the centennial birth year of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj this year, we reflect on his lifelong commitment to open dialogue and inclusivity that continue to inspire. His unconditional love set a standard for world peace and interfaith harmony.
Last year, as the crisis in Afghanistan unfolded, thousands of refugees came to the Los Angeles area seeking asylum and a community for their families. As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches, many families will be celebrating their first Ramadan in the United States, away from home.
In Los Angeles County, various government agencies and non-profit organizations have come together to form the ‘Los Angeles County Afghan Refugee Task Force’ to support Afghan refugees to resettle, navigate the system and provide resources. As a member of this task force and in the spirit of interfaith peace and harmony, on Friday, March 25th, 2022, volunteers from the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Los Angeles, through our charitable arm, BAPS Charities, mobilized and donated
dates, nuts, pots, pans, and other essential items to support Afghan refugees for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan:
BAPS Volunteers arrived onsite at Loyola Village Elementary School, where the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Westchester Community of Schools is collecting donations for the refugees. Los Angeles Unified School District Board Vice President Nick Melvoin
, Samuel Liu (Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Ben Allen (SD-26)), and Jennifer Theodore-Sullivan and Christian Acala from the LAUSD Westchester Community of Schools
, were also present for the donation.
Even though the refugees are thousands of miles from home, all humans should have access to resources and dignity to practice their faith wherever they are, without persecution and fear. Pramukh Swami Maharaj encouraged individuals and communities to preserve their principles, traditions, and culture while equally respecting those of others. As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches, in the spirit of interfaith peace and harmony, the volunteers BAPS are honored to provide our fellow human brothers and sisters with these items to be able to practice their faith in the best way possible.
Last September, Los Angeles School Unified School District Board Vice President Nick Melvoin introduced a resolution to affirm the district's commitment to supporting Afghan refugees. Mr. Melvoin and school district staff were there on-site to receive the donations to be distributed to over 100 families. Board Member Melvoin shared his thoughts, "It's a really incredible partnership, not only between non-profits and the school district and these families but also an interfaith effort. We have Hindus, I'm a Jew myself, of course we have these Muslim families who are celebrating their holy month of Ramadan."
The Office of State Senator Ben Allen (SD-26) also brought large pots, tarps and 25 pounds of dates to donate to the refugees and their families. “I could think of no better way for us to support the community in a way that brings people together of all faiths and backgrounds to make the introduction for these folks into our country, to our city as welcoming as possible especially when they have suffered so much trauma. These families can use the holidays as a time to come together and continue their cultural traditions. We are really grateful to BAPS to be a part of this effort.”
This year, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Los Angeles is celebrating its 10th year anniversary as well as the 100th birth anniversary of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, whose life motto, “In the Joy of Others, Lies our Own” led the volunteers to take on this effort. In the spirit of honoring Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and teachings, BAPS is humbled to support Afghan refugees in Los Angeles.