AYUDH Minnesota serves poor

14 March 2010

On Sunday, March 14th 2010, AYUDH Minnesota members gathered at the RMHC for the fifth service activity. We prepared a full course Indian meal and served it to 100 of the House’s inmates. The RMHC houses poor people from various countries who come to the USA for surgeries, treatment of disabilities, etc. They are provided with three meals a day and comfortable shelter and financial support for treatments, during their stay.

 

AYUDH USA 3rd annual retreat

The members of 3rd annual AYUDH USA with Br. Dayamrita

The members of 3rd annual AYUDH USA with Br. Dayamrita

The third annual AYUDH US Youth Exchange, “Give Peace a Chance,” took place from December 26 to 29, 2009 at the M.A. Center in San Ramon, CA. Led by Br. Dayamrita Chaitanya, the exchange included a multitude of spiritual, cultural, and service activities for over 65 attendees. Besides daily yoga and meditation, one of the retreat’s highlights was preparing and serving breakfast and lunch for the soup kitchen at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. The Church was featured for its hospitality in the 2007 movie “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Each meal served over 1,000 needy individuals. AYUDH’s positive attitudes and spirit of channeling Amma’s message of love and service was evident. “Helping at the soup kitchen made me realize how much attention and awareness is needed in doing seva. It was nice to see how we could serve Amma through different ways,” said Lizzie Corley from New York.

Serving food: each meal served over 1000

Serving food: each meal over 1000 were served

Given the youth pledge to support Amma’s Green Year through ‘Growin‘ One Seed at a Time, AYUDH members learned about the benefits of organic farming and the potential harm of using pesticides with an inspiring activity led by Kalesh, an expert in the field. Members planted fava beans and built a compost structure in AYUDH’s organic garden.

Another feature of the retreat included a scriptural class on the 12th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Bhakti Yoga, and a bhajan class, both led by Br. Ramanand. He taught the Mahishasura Mardini Stotram in a unique and lively tune. AYUDH also learned the retreat’s theme song, from Sharani Eastman and Swarna Iyer. “Give Peace a Chance” was written and tuned by AYUDH Europe.

organic farming

Organic farming by AYUDH

AYUDH members watched clips of Embracing the World’s humanitarian initiatives, pledging to support ETW activities in creative ways. Anu Iyer gave a touching account of her experience meeting children in Amma’s care home in Kenya. Local AYUDH member Shivesh Rameshbabu later shared, “This taught me about some of the problems in India and around the world. It made me want to help and think harder about ways to help. I may not even have to go out of my way to do this!” Ideas included eyeglass donation drives, holding benefit concerts, and using the Internet as a venue to both publicize and fundraise for ETW initiatives.

Each day, AYUDH members led the nightly bhajans and arati.

To conclude the exchange, all were treated to an interactive and inspirational class via webcam with Swami Amritaswarupananda, in which he gave valuable advice about rising to the challenge of being Amma’s youth. Following an enjoyable outing to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, AYUDH USA members returned home, enthused and energized to give peace a chance in 2010.

– Das

AYUDH plants 500 trees at Amrita Watoto Boma

25 Oct 2009, Nairobi, Kenya

AYUDH Kenya participated in the 350 movement on Saturday 24th October 2009. This day marked a milestone towards fighting against climate change as people from all over the world united with a common goal to be heard and try and save the planet. (http://www.350.org/)

AYUDH’s contribution was through organizing a tree planting event at the Amrita Watoto Boma (Children’s home) located by the Athi River in Nairobi. A total of 50 youth took part in the event and managed digging the ground and planting 500 trees during the course of the day. There were also 3 campaigners for the 350 movement from Denmark present for the event.

The day started with a short talk by Br. Shantamrita on how man depends on Mother Nature and the need to contribute towards preserving Mother Nature.  There was a lot of enthusiasm amongst the youth who managed to finish planting 500 trees in the morning alone. This was the target intended for the entire day. There were a lot of innovative methods of teamwork on display as well, particularly whilst watering the trees. Only one water tank was available, which was pretty far away and all the participants formed a chain to transport the water to the trees.

After lunch and a small singing session, the youth gathered for the final activity, which was to create a small garden next to one of the children’s dorms. This was the most challenging activity of the day and it concluded at 3:30 pm.

The event ended on a very positive note with each person adopting at least one tree, showing their commitment towards ensuring that they would come back for another event and to make sure that the trees planted would also grow healthy. A round of ultimate Frisbee concluded the day. It was a fun-filled event for all who took part.
As the children’s center is nearing completion and the kids are about to move into their new home, AYUDH dedicated this day to create a more welcoming and beautiful surrounding for the children and at the same time contributed to the protection of Mother Nature.

Amma in Munich

Munich, Germany, 29th – 31st October

growin“We are so blessed that Amma has been coming to Munich for 22 years; we want to thank Amma deeply that she is giving us the opportunity to be in her inspiring presence. Thank you so much for being here.” with these words Amma was welcomed to Munich, Germany

Felicitas von Schönborn, correspondent of the UNO, writer and publisher welcomed Amma saying: ” Because of the love that Amma is giving to every single being, humankind is merging together.”

Inspired by Amma, AYUDH Europe announced their new project ‘Growin‘, where young people start growing their own vegetables, especially in city areas. “Since many years Amma has been saying how important it is to cultivate our own food. With ‘Growin’ AYUDH is doing the first step; we are sowing the seeds of change”, they said.

Devotees from Hungary came to invite Amma to their country and presented their flag which Amma waved with respect.

Cultural performances accompanied the festivities of Amma’s visit to Munich.

The joy of gardening

August is the season when many youth from all over the world flock to Amritapuri to spend their holidays with Amma. It is a time for the youngsters to reflect about life in a deeper way, contribute to Amma’s charitable work and socialize with other like-minded youngsters. This year, AYUDH decided to make an effort and follow Amma’s advice to work on the preservation of Nature. The first initiative was to start a vegetable garden.

Twice a week aound 30 youngsters have been going to the ashram’s “Vrindavan” garden near the Ayurveda school to prepare vegetable beds, mix compost into the soil, plant medicinal trees and learn about organic gardening.

Along with the garden in Amritapuri, AYUDH has started cultivating food in Amma’s Centers in California, Michigan, Germany and France. Even youth who live in cities have made an effort to grow vegetables, in whatever space they have available. The AYUDH group in Austria for example has turned one of their members’ balcony into a field of pots, with tomatoes, zucchini and pepper sprouting up everywhere.

GrowIn

“GrowIn’ – One Seed at a Time” is the project title which the youth have given to their common effort to grow healthy, organic food, thus reducing pollution and becoming more independent from the international food market. Another objective of the project is to reconnect to Nature as the life giving principle. Even though all the youngsters have consumed countless of tomatoes in their lives – very few have ever experienced how much effort and time it takes to grow a tomato plant. People are used to getting their food from supermarket shelves – not from the soil. GrowIn’ wants to re-introduce the younger generation to the joy of gardening.

Finally, in a few weeks, the youth hope to harvest the tomatoes, corn, cucumber, beans, ladies finger, spinach and many more delicious, organic, vegetables at the “Vrindavan” Garden, offering the fruits of their efforts – literally – to Amma.

“Many of the plants die after they have shed their seeds. They sacrifice their own life in order to give birth to many more plants, thus sustaining the circle of life,” explained Lola, an ashram resident who has been working in the “Vrindavan” garden for two years, cultivating over 7,000 Tulasi plants and many fruit trees.

When they will go back to their home countries they will take with them not just the memory of spending beautiful days with Amma but also new knowledge to live a more sustainable and environmental friendly life.

– Das

Give Peace A Chance

5th European Youth Exchange
19 – 26 July 2009, M.A. Center, Germany

From 19th to 26th July 2009 young people from all over Europe flocked to the M.A. Center Germany to participate in the 5th annual European Youth Exchange. “Give Peace a Chance” was the theme of the week, which for the third time was generously funded by the EU’s “Youth in Action” programme.  The event was also registered as part of the “Worldwide March for Peace and Non-violence.”

Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya and Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya presided over the retreat. Through their witty and lively talks they provided the youth with spiritual insight as well as concrete, practical solutions to bring about peace in various fields of life. Every day a different theme was discussed: Peace with Yourself, Peace in Relationships, Peace with Strange People, Peace amongst Religions and Peace with Nature.

ayudh-all

Daily question & answer sessions gave the participants the opportunity to go deeper into each of the topics and clear their doubts. Matthias Lehmann, former national committee vice president of AIESEC, the world’s largest student organization, in Hungary also addressed the youngsters.

Each day started with a prayer and meditation for world peace. In the evenings all assembled to sing bhajans and pray for peace. Every country group also prepared a song, sometimes in their own language, and presented it to the rest of the group. Throughout the week one could see and hear young people singing and playing music everywhere.
Since the first European Youth Exchange in 2005, AYUDH groups have sprung up in most European countries. During the first three days of the conference these groups presented their recent projects and achievements. It was very inspiring to see the incredibly wide range of activities and efforts they had made to put Amma’s teaching of love and service into practice.

ayudh-peace

Projects ranged from visiting care homes for the elderly to outings with handicapped people, organic gardening to large-scale bee-keeping, waffle baking to charity dinners in order to support the charities of M.A.M. In the latter part of the week the participants worked on developing new projects and activities in their respective countries.

In the afternoons the youth had a wide range of workshops to choose from, according to their personal interests. These included Environmental Protection, Personal Development, Recycling, Sculpting, Acting, Dance, Bhajans, Tai Chi, Volting, Yoga and Meditation.
One of the highlights of the week was the planting of a peace tree on the compound of the M.A. Center. Everyone joined in the chanting of the peace prayer ” Om Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantuh – May all beings everywhere be peaceful and happy” while the participants blessed the tree with sacred water, soil and flower petals.
In their free time the participants had the opportunity to deepen their connection with youth from other countries, cultures, and backgrounds. Leisure activities included ice-breaker-games, a picnic in nature and a bonfire, which was accompanied by music and cheerful singing.

The atmosphere was very joyful and warm. A unique spirit of togetherness prevailed throughout the week. Some of the participants were real “veterans”, they had been coming to M.A. Center Germany since the first Youth Exchange in 2005. However, every year new people join in. It was beautiful to see how everyone was welcomed, newcomers got integrated and everyone opened up to others. Many of the participants mentioned that they felt like being part of a big family, so happy and grateful to share their spiritual interest and sincere desire to work together for a better world with people of their age, which is often not the case in their usual environments.

At the end of the week, the youth reflected on what they had learned in a workshop called “Discipline of Peace”. Using the ancient system of the medicine wheel of the Native Americans the youth formulated powerful statements in respect to each of the topics discussed:
“Inner peace is the key to peace in the outside. We should take time to develop inner peace, in order to be able to share it with the world.”
“Giving in a relationship is the same as giving to yourself, because we all are deeply interconnected.”
“When we look with our heart, we will realize that truly there is no difference between religions. There is only one essence, which all souls long for, this essence is Love.”
“As we are part of Nature, we need to care for her, then She will take care of us. Once we realize our oneness with Nature, we will realize that we have the power to change, to reverse the problems of Nature.”
“To have a personal goal is important, but to have a common goal is even more powerful.”

One of the common goals amongst the youth is the protection and preservation of Mother Nature. Inspired by Amma’s request to start growing organic vegetables the youth decided to launch a new project – “Grow In” – which aims at encouraging young people to grow their own veggies – be it in their gardens or even on their balconies in the city. With this in mind, one of the workshops produced a video-clip, which serves as a step-by-step guide to organic gardening.
ayudh-doveAs a tradition, the last evening of the week saw a presentation of all the different workshops. Performances ranged from dance to heart stirring songs. A fashion show displayed very colorful items, which had been recycled from trash. Meditative movements of Tai Chi calmed down the audience while the “Acting and Speech-Performance” group made everyone raise their voice to practice public speaking. Applause and cheering knew no ends.

Before departing all participants were given certificates of participation by Mr. Willi Kredel, the Mayor of Brombachtal. In his speech Mr. Kredel remarked that he was very impressed to see so many young people gather to reflect on the topic of peace. Seeing this common, multicultural effort he said that he now had hope that peace does in fact have a chance.
The local media also reported about the programme. The TV station HR reported twice about the event and several newspaper articles were published, one on the front page. It was titled: “The Youth Gives Peace a Chance”.

It is hard to put into words what this week long gathering had meant for many of the participants. “Give Peace a Chance” was much more than just a meeting for theoretical discussion. Rather, it was a week to experience the unity of hearts, beyond the boundaries of nationality, religion or culture, a week to explore the power and impact that a common goal and unified action can have. It was a week that proved that peace does in fact have a chance if only we stand together and dare to try.

–Nath

“May the tree of our life
be firmly rooted in the soil of love,
let good deeds be the leaves on that tree,
may words of kindness form its flowers,
and may peace be its fruits.”

—Amma


River Promenade clean-up project

Sunday, 21st June, 2009

The Clean-Up of River Promenade Père Laval was one of the projects AYUDH Mauritius had committed to at its inception in February 2009.
The Municipal Council of Vacoas/Phoenix, keen on AYUDH’s initiative, helpfully provided rakes and baskets as well at a waste truck at the disposal of the Mauritian youths.

Thus properly equipped, the youths jumped into action, collecting heaps of litter which they eventually disposed of at the back of the truck. Given the large amount of littering, one main area was targeted and was thoroughly cleaned.

The once badly littered area is now an inviting space of pristine greenery. Through constructive channeling of their energies, the young AYUDH members have realized the difference that even a few committed people can make through inspired action.

AYUDH Mauritius considers that the momentum is now set for the team to carry on with the project and take further initiatives in view of preventing littering in a location which they are aiming to restore to its natural beauty.

The most heroic thing is caring

7 June 2009 — San Ramon, California, USA

The second stop on Amma’s 2009 U.S.  Yatra is San Ramon, California, home to Amma’s ashram headquarters in the United States, MA Center.

On June 5, the mayor of Sunnyvale, California, Antony Spitaleri, came for Amma’s darshan. Author Alice Walker also attended. Walker—who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for her novel The Color of Purple—said, “[Amma] presents the kind of leadership we need for our planet to survive. This is the most heroic person I’ve probably ever met. Because she is sitting there hugging people. This is the most heroic thing that any of us could do now. Because shooting each other is not heroic. The most heroic is caring, and she does that.”

June 6, World Environment Day, found Amma’s American youth organization, AYUDH – America, brought various fruit-tree saplings for Amma to bless. They then planted the trees on the premises. “Planting trees is like building houses for Nature,” Amma said upon blessing the trees. The group has planted 250 such saplings since January; its goal is to plant another 250 this year.

Amma’s San Ramon programs run from June 3 through June 13th, with a retreat on the final three days. She then travels to Los Angeles.

—Kannadi

AYUDH-Kenya cleans up slum

colours of joy
28 March 2009 — Nairobi, Kenya

On March 28, 2009, a few weeks prior to Amma’s Kenya programs, AYUDH-Kenya undertook its first project—cleaning up a slum. Approximately 150 young people took part in the cleanup, which took place at Maringo Estate off Jogoo Road in Eastlands, Nairobi. The clean-up was headed by Brahmachari Shantamrita Chaitanya and was done in cooperation with the World Sports Ministries Group of Kenya.

“The aim of the project was to enable youth from various cultures, religions, and social backgrounds to unite and collectively participate in cleaning up the Maringo Area,” said Brahmachari Shubamrita Chaitanya, another brahmachari helping with Amma’s activities in Kenya.

Participants were split into groups of eight to 10 people. They cleared blocked drainage systems, cleaned streets and collected trash. Some of the drains had been blocked for several months—a serious health threat for the many children playing near the stagnant water.

AYUDH-Kenya also spent time educating the slum’s youth regarding the importance of environmental cleanliness and protecting Mother Nature. From now on, the youth living in the slum will regularly visit the cleared areas to ensure the neighborhood remains clean and green.

– Das

AYUDH Belgium planting trees

22nd of March 2009, Knesselare, Belgium

At Knesselare in Belgium, members of AYUDH Europe worked side by side with Amma’s older devotees to plant 240 willow trees on a parcel of land appointed to Friends of Amma.

Some additional trees were also planted on a neighbouring parcel of land.

After planting all the trees, the 20 volunteers stood together and chanted Om Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu, praying for the peace and happiness of all beings everywhere.
AYUDH planting trees in Belgium