Wealth from Waste

dace of joy
For the past month, members of Ayudh Europe have been staying in Amritapuri and have been lucky enough to be involved in the Ashrams’ ‘plastic project’ as part of their daily Seva. This project was started by a resident of the ashram who was inspired to re-use the waste plastic that she saw around her. Sorting the waste plastics from the rubbish bins is no small task, especially as every item must be hand washed, sterilized and dried. A number of products have been created from these simple materials, ranging from purses and wallets to shoulder bags and meditation mats. Each one is unique, brightly colored and painstakingly produced to a high standard. Techniques such as knitting, sewing, weaving and crocheting are used to create very attractive items. Children especially love to take part in this Seva and it is a great way for them to learn about recycling. Many of the devotees who have taken part have been so impressed that they’ve taken the idea home and started their own plastic projects.
dace of joy
Meanwhile at the ashram, the popularity of the products has meant that it has been difficult to meet the demand! It is not uncommon to see Ashramites using their recycled accessories and it seems there is a lot of support for the project here, especially from Amma herself! When presented with a handmade recycled bag, She held it up high for all to see and said: “You may think it is only a small gesture, but through this the hearts of individuals blossom and others are inspired to follow. This can lead to significant changes in society.”

Sorting plastic from the waste bins is not the most glamorous job, but it really makes you realize what a mess we leave behind. We find ourselves thinking twice when reaching for that plastic-wrapped packet of biscuits or chocolate bar…. The reality is that, while the snack will vanish in 5 minutes (or less!), the plastic will still be around even after we’re gone from the planet. Plastic bags take at least 300 years to break down into smaller particles. This is not a good legacy to be leaving for future generations. If we can think of solutions now, then perhaps we can lower the impact of this plastic epidemic that is sweeping the planet.
dace of joy

In one of her talks, Amma said that, because plastic is so prevalent in the world nowadays, birds are even starting to use waste plastic to build their nests! Also, in some of the more polluted areas of the Pacific Ocean, marine animals easily mistake plastic for food, which often leads to death because it cannot be digested.

By recycling plastic into desirable goods, we can not only prevent some plastic from polluting the natural environment and raise money for good causes, but most importantly raise awareness about the plastic problem. Perhaps people might be inspired, like we were, to think twice about buying plastic wrapped products – thus helping to bring an end to this problem.
dace of joy
This project and has really opened eyes to what is possible with a little bit of imagination! At this years AYUDH Europe Youth Exchange, watch out for the plastic recycling workshop- we hope it will be a real inspiration to everyone!

– Dass

Relaxation for Body & Mind

Workshop With the Mentally Challenged

Since 2007 AYUDH Spain has been collaborating with the Catalan Sport Federation of Limited Disabilities to bring joy into the lives of mentally challenged people. At least once per month, AYUDH members take a group of mentally challenged young adults for an outing in Barcelona. Usually they take advantage of local cultural festivals and events.

Recently AYUDH prepared a special activity involving music, body movement and relaxation for the group of disabled people.

dace of joy

“When we started the music, they all got very excited. Even those who felt a little shy at the beginning started to dance–in pairs, alone or in a group!  We did simple, fun exercises to the rhythm of the music. We shared so much happiness, being invited by the music to let go of all fears and tensions!” said Gemma, the AYUDH Spain leader.

With eyes closed, everyone was laying down on the floor, soft music playing in the background. Everybody went into a deep state of relaxation.  Finally all danced together as a group, joyfully.

“It was amazing to see these mentally challenged people, who can be very restless at times, so relaxed,” said Gemma.

One participant explained that it was nice to do something so completely different from ordinary life, feeling happy and well balanced.

“I liked the workshop a lot. I think it’s very good to help these people with learning disabilities, who can benefit so much from this kind of workshop. It is very gratifying to listen to what these people have to say and hear how they want to continue their lives. They are, in fact, very interesting and loving people,” said Cristina Chorro, an AYUDH member, thanking them for giving an opportunity.

Another AYUDH member, Laura Castellu, said, “I was really touched when they explained to us all how they had felt during the meditation. I remember one person who explained that she loves this kind of guided meditations because she enters a new, happier world–full of light and love.”

“They asked us to give more workshops like this in the future and even to arrange one for their superiors at work, in order to make them more relaxed as well,” said Gemma.

– Das

BD camp for thalassemia patients

Blood donation AYUDH Mumbai organized a blood donation camp in association with Pooja blood bank of Mulund for thalassemia patients camp on 25th January 2009. More than 50 units of blood was collected for this noble cause.

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes the body to produce less hemoglobin. Low levels of hemoglobin may cause anemia, an illness that makes you feel weak and tired. Severe cases of anemia may damage organs and result in death.

Blood donation

People with severe anemia (beta thalassemia major) usually will not live into adulthood without treatment. If the child starts receiving blood transfusions early and continues to receive them throughout life, he or she is likely to live longer.

AYUDH Kenya launched

AYUDH has stepped onto African soil. During his visit to the Republic of Kenya from February 5th to 13th, Br. Shubamrita, launched AYUDH Kenya.
AYUDH Kenya
“On Saturdays we are bored. Just going out, coming home late and then wasting away our time in front of the TV did somehow not feel fulfilling anymore,” says Pareet, an AYUDH member, from Nairobi. So he decided to call his friends over for a meeting, to sit down and talk about some things they can do to help others.

It is not difficult in Kenya to find needy people and deserving causes. With a youth unemployment rate of 75% in Africa as a whole, crime and drug abuse are steadily increasing. Nearly 1.5 million orphans are struggling to survive day by day in Kenya alone. Pollution goes uncontrolled and there have been times when AIDS was killing more than 700 people a day.
Albinism
AYUDHs first project will be a clean-up day in one of the slums of Nairobi at the end of March. AYUDH also has established contact with a group of young adults with Albinism, who face a lot of obstacles and challenges in Kenyan society. It is AYUDHs sincere desire to associate with these youngsters and help them develop a positive self-image.

The first two AYUDH meetings were a great success. Youngsters both from the Asian-Kenyan and the Christian African-Kenyan communities attended the meeting. Both parties said that they had never before made the such an effort to overcome the barriers of religion and culture and work together to serve society. It is a very promising sign that the youth of Kenya are ready to work together to realize their vision of unity, mutual respect and collaboration.

– Das

Br. Shubamrita’s visit to Mauritius

 Satsang-Mauritious
From January 22nd to February 2nd Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya visited the island of Mauritus to give talks, conduct pujas and hold a meditation course.

He was welcomed by a large number of devotees from the various communities of the island: Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, and of religions- Hindu, Muslim, Creole and Chinese.

Br. Shubamrita also paid a visit to His Exc. Sir Anerood Jugnauth  at the presidential residency on Tuesday, Jan 27th. The President, who had met Amma in 2007, praised the M.A.Center’s contribution to the spiritual culture of the country as well as its social and environmental efforts. He encouraged Br. Shubamrita to expand the Center’s charitable activities and to ignite the spirit of love and service, especially in the younger generation of the republic.

 Nature-Mauritious Mauritius is the only country outside of India, which has the fortune of having a Brahmastanam temple consecrated by Amma. The island is a natural marvel, with turquoise lagoons, dense forest and impressive mountain ranges. Apart from daily worship in the temple, Br. Shubamrita held 14 programs in all parts of the island: in Triolet in the North, Cascavelle in the West, Bel Air in the East and Palma, Belle Rose and La Source in the Center. Around 250 people attended the Sani Puja conducted at the M.A.Center in Quatre Bones. To the surprise of the devotees the puja took place simultaneously with the one conduced by Amma in Trivandrum.

 IAM technique-Mauritious Over 100 people took part in an Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique® Course offered free of charge at the Center.

Br. Shubamrita also launched AYUDH Mauritus, a youth movement which aims to provide young people with the opportunity for personal development, social and environmental service.

Br. Shubamrita’s visit served both as an inspiration to long-time devotees of Amma as well as a trigger for new people to learn about Amma’s message of love and compassion.

ayudh-us12

AYUDH USA

AYUDH Youth Meet 27 -29  Dec 2008
The 2nd annual AYUDH (USA) Youth Meet held at the M.A. Center in San Ramon, California saw the arrival of young people from all over the country to participate in a 3-day program. Themed “Compassion in Action,” the retreat delved into the complex meaning of compassion, and explored the ways that we can be compassionate to each other, our communities, and to our planet.
Each morning began with a guided meditation, a small puja, and a session of yoga. Other activities for the weekend included spiritual talks, daily bhajans and meditation, tree plantings, a music workshop with professional musicians, and group activities and discussion sessions on the myriad of issues that youth face in their daily lives.

ayudh-us12
Br. Dayamrita Chaitanya led participants in a discussion on the practical meanings of compassion in action. Groups were given real-life scenarios that individuals had faced, and were instructed to act out solutions to the problems that were the most compassionate.
Speaking to the youths via webcast from Amritapuri Ashram, Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri exhorted youths to make a practice of remembering Amma and a special experience with her just three times a day. He noted that it had been his experience that when one called to Amma with longing, She would surely respond. Individuals were able to interact with Swamiji and asked a number of questions.
Project leaders from Common Vision, an Earth education and ecological awareness group, spoke to participants about the ideology of permaculture and also instructed us on how to properly plant the trees to ensure their survival and longevity. Retreatants spent a number of hours on a lush green hill overlooking the M.A. Center grounds, planting trees that would eventually contribute to a new, thriving mini ecosystem. By the conclusion of the retreat, 100 trees had been planted by AYUDH members.
A Toastmaster leader (from an international public speaking and leadership promotion group) led retreatants in various activities that helped individuals improve their ease and comfort in speaking in front of a large group of people.

ayudh-us16
A Music Workshop was run by professional musicians, who provided informative tips on how to optimize one’s vocal capacity and vocal tone. After some diligent practice, the hall resounded with youthful voices singing in unison, joyful and full of hope.
The retreatants had some quality time with Br. Dayamrita in an informal question and answer session — relating to spiritual practice, how to maintain one’s values and beliefs in the outside world, and how to negotiate interpersonal conflict.
At the conclusion of the program, youths also made individual pledges to themselves, which they wrote on small paper doves, the international symbol of AYUDH. The doves were mounted and hung in Amrita Hall, a symbol of our promises to ourselves, each other, and to our beloved Amma.

AYUDH – UK is starting a garden project

London, 29 Oct 2008,
AYUDH group in UK while celebrating their 1st anniversary, started a garden project as part of GreenFriends in an effort to grow fruits in their own private gardens. This project is an effort to raise awareness that one need to produce one’s own food and a little extra for others too.
The AYUDH in UK carried a pear tree up to Amma for blessing, which would be planted as part of the garden project, and a pot of seeds, which would be used for the proposed tree-planting project.

MAM at the UN conference about Human Rights

un60From September 3rd to 5th a conference was held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights organized by the Department of Public Information (DPI) in co-operation with the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) community. Over 1,100 representatives from 65 countries attended this year’s Conference .

A team of four people represented the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) including a representative of AYUDH, the youth wing of MAM at the conference.

MAM helped with the preparations on the Planning Committee, and co-moderated a Break-out session planned by the Outreach Committee titled: From Vulnerability Toward Empowerment, exchanging personal experiences and knowledge on the path to empowerment.

un-human

The MAM made a compelling presentation on the Farmer Relief Project at this break-out session.  The initiative was noted as a best practice to empower populations in extreme poverty and restore their Human Rights. And it is not surprising that the work of the Math was cited at the DPI conference in Paris as a best practice in advancing Human Rights.

The conference was a great opportunity for networking with other NGOs and informing them about the vast range of Amma’s charitable projects.The Friendship Ambassadors Foundation invited AYUDH to attend the International Youth Conference at the UN in New York City in August 2009.

– Tulasi

UN’s Peace Day celebrated

Peace for a day
On the occasion of the UN’s International Peace Day on September 21st 2008, AYUDH groups worldwide connected via the internet to pray for world peace and harmony. At 9am Amritapuri time the connection was launched between youth from India, America, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Poland and Finland. After a very hearty and happy greeting the youngsters chanted 108 times “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” – “May all beings in all worlds be happy.”
“It was so nice to start the day with this feeling of togetherness, feeling the peace inside, which was created by the mantras” said one of the participants.

The goal of the UN Peace-One-Day is to establish one day a year where there is ceasefire, where everyone works towards establishing world peace, through their prayers, words and deeds. Just like Amma sings in one of her recent English songs: “There should be one day where there is no violence, no one is injured, no one is harmed” May Ammas prayer become reality soon – at least for one day.

— Das

Finding the balance in Life

On 22nd – 24th August 2008

The M.A. Center in Melbourne hosted AYUDH Australia’s first youth retreat by Bramachari Shantamrita Chaitanya. The theme of the retreat was “balance”.    It laid the foundation for lasting relationships, inspired vision and action.

Br. Shantamrita discussed balance; how one can apply this concept in everyday lives. He also talked about the importance of yagna, the sense of being selfless in our actions. ‘Be like the rain’ is the way of service, falls from the sky down to the dirty ground to offer some relief, without expectation of receiving anything in return. Every one was encouraged to follow Amma’s example of seeing Nature as our teacher and offer our lives accordingly. All were encouraged to try and do one thing each day to show gratitude and respect for Mother Nature, the sages of old and the present, the five elements, to ancestors, and humanity.

The principle of balance was explored through a variety of means including a discussion led by Br. Shantamrita on Ayurvedic principles for eating and combining foods to achieve balance and harmony, as well as sessions led by local devotees. These included a talk on the importance of keeping a balance between alkaline and acidic foods and how blood types affect the food we eat, and a yoga class helped to learn about the physical and mental balance.

AYUDH discussed the possible future activities. The importance of becoming educated about ways of achieving balance and sacrifice in the context of Nature, learning about energy efficiency practices, recycling and general environmental sustainability practices are the few things planned to do.

The youths planted shrubs at the M.A. Centre are located on beautiful land with plenty of open space, trees and native flora. They had games, bhajans and campfire.

The youths felt inspired, took a vow to implement the principles of balance and selflessness that had been discussed on retreat in their daily lives.
They were thankful to Amma for planting the seeds of inspiration in them and becoming a torch to carry Amma’s light in the world.