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 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.
Tree planting
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.
Yoga class
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


From 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.

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.

The Future in Our Hands

LogoAYUDH Europe Youth Exchange 2008
The 4th annual European Youth Exchange held at the M.A. Center in Germany saw the arrival of a lot of young people from  all parts of European countries to participate in a 6 day program led by Br Shubamrita and Bri. Dipamrita. For the second time, the program was co-funded and accredited by the “Youth in Action” Program of the European Commission for Education and Culture.
The camp was composed of a variety of spiritual talks, workshops, bhajans and meditation, group activities and lectures on various issues relating to the youth. The daily programme started with Tai Chi, Yoga and Meditation classes followed by spiritual talks by either Br. Shubamrita or Bri. Dipamrita. The workshops promoting personal growth and self-development drew on various creative activities from Bhajans to Rap, Dance and Hip Hop, Acrobatics, Art-work, Tai-chi, Ayurveda and Personality Development.

Satsang

A Social Care workshop drew the interest of youth to promote care for the elderly by attending a care home and providing company and entertainment. The youth composed a song which was performed for those at the care home. Youth teamwork led to the construction of an eco-friendly building made from straw. Guest speakers gave inspiring talks on subjects such as Eco-villages, Fair Trade, and Leadership in Youth, helping to create ripples in young minds in the hope that these ideas would spark related projects in various countries across Europe.
The third day of the programme involved all the young people going on a nature trek. After walking in the heat of the sun the youth sat in a circle around a pond in the shade where everyone took part in a group prayer for World Peace. As the singing and chanting continued beautiful dragon flies were seen dancing around the surface of the circular pond. The trek continued till a forest clearing was reached where all the youth took part in group games followed by a picnic and a question & answer session under the trees.

Ayudh Volunteers

Daily evenings saw the presentations of what each country has been doing to promote AYUDH Europe and its values in their respective countries. The projects ranged from Green Friends activities to social care projects to waffle and cookie baking fundraisers and kirtan workshops. A number of countries had set up bhajan and meditation groups and there were a growing number of new projects in the making. The presentation helped to inspire especially youth form countries like Poland, Norway and Marocco, who participated in the youth exchange for the first time, to start with AYUDH projects back home.

The different groups produced songs and plays based on the theme of the Youth Exchange. The last evening was a festival of youth talents with a colourful display filled with fresh energy and bundle of enthusiasm of everything the youth had learnt during the week. The local Mayor, Mr. Kredel, attended the final closing ceremony of the Youth Exchange and was welcomed with a round of applauds and cheering by the youth. He was touched by the number of youth who had assembled in this quiet village to discuss important and serious topics such as climate change, and world peace. Seeing the sincerity and dedication of so many youth from different countries, religions and social backgrounds he remarked that “world peace has still a chance.” The Mayor concluded his contribution by presenting the Youth Pass Certificate by the EU ‘Youth in Action’ Programme to all the youth participants.

Youth retreat

During one of the personal development sessions the youth had been invited to write their goals for the future on small paper doves, the symbol of AYUDH. Their pledges included to “reach my goal and become a doctor and help people in crisis all over the world” or “I will do my best to be an instrument of peace and compassion in all aspects of life, throughout my life.” Sticking the individual doves onto the backdrop of the stage, which was decorated with a huge white dove, a beautiful symbol for this youth retreat was created: that of a mother bird teaching her children how to fly high, how to reach their goals and spread peace to the world.

The Youth Exchange ended with everyone singing and dancing to what seemed like a never-ending and blissful version of Mata Rani before concluding with peace prayers.

– Kannan

Youth in Action 2008 – The Future in Our Hands

22 – 27 July 2008, MA Center, Frankfurt, Germany

4th European Youth Exchange Supported by the Youth in Action Program of the EU organised by Amrita Yuva Dharma Dhara (AYUDH). The major handed over the “Youth Pass,” the new certificate of the European Union to acknowledge informal learning experience.

A bouquet of young people from all over Europe participated in this one week program. They reflected on the topic of the youth exchange: “The Future in Our Hands” by participating in different lectures, debates and discussions.

Br. Shubamrita and Bri. Dipamrita address the youth daily. The youth had a question and answer session with Br. Shubamrita and Bri. Dipamrita in the forest at the end of trekking.

The camp had workshops in Trekking, Acrobatic performance and Dance. The youth build eco-friendly houses out of straw. Had prayer session for World Peace.

Alin Poort (Amma Europe), Heike Neder (Vice-President M.A. Center Germany), Hans-Rudolf Arnold (Board Member M.A. Center Germany), Mr. Kredel, Major of Brombachtal, Br. Shubamrira Chaitanya, Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya, Christiane Gude, Filmmaker participated at the closing ceremony.

Blessing a Child of the Survivor Tree

Blessing the tree29 June 2008 — Addison, Texas, USA

The terrorist bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building on April 19, 1995 took the lives of 168 people and scarred thousands more physically and emotionally. Despite the massive blast and subsequent fires, a 100-year-old American Elm Tree, part of the building’s original landscaping, survived. At the insistence of Oklahoma citizens, survivors, family members of the deceased and rescue workers, the “Survivor Tree” has become central part of the memorial dedicated to the victims of the blast.

At the beginning of Amma’s two days of programs in Addison, Texas, devotees from Oklahoma brought Amma a sapling to bless that was grown from a seed taken from the Survivor Tree. This sapling was presented to Amma by the Mayor of Addison, Joe Chow.

Immediately after Amma blessed the sapling, it was taken to Addison Town Park, where it was planted by the mayor, Swami Ramakrishnananda and members of the American wing of Amma’s youth group, AYUDH (Amrita Yuva Dharmadhara).

Planting the tree

Just prior to Amma’s blessing of the tree, Elizabeth Muller, a devotee from Oklahoma, addressed the gathering. “The Survivor Tree is a witness to tragedy, but also a symbol of resilience, tenacity, perseverance and hope,” she said. “Today, it is a tribute to renewal and rebirth. The inscription around that tree at the memorial reads: ‘The spirit of this city and nation will not be defeated. Our deeply rooted faith sustained us.’ This tree can stand for the nurturing of the tree of compassion in the hearts of us all. For, as Amma has said, ‘Compassion is the only way to peace.’”

Welcoming Amma to Addison for the fourth year in a row, Mayor Chow lauded Amma’s tireless service to humanity. “She gives everything she has to the poor and the needy,” he said. “She has done so much. Let’s give her a big round of applause.”

—Kannadi