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Green Friends Mauritius launched

21 June 2015, Mata Amritanandamayi Centre, Quatre Bornes, Mauritius

GreenFriends Mauritius planted 150 saplings, both indigenous and exotic plants to commemorate its launching and mark the first International Yoga Day.

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Trees are the lungs of Mother Earth, filtering pollution and providing oxygen in return. Over the course of its life a single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide. GreenFriends believe that the tree planting will help our next generation. Although our efforts may seem small or insignificant but it will certainly bring a real change.

Honourable Minister Raj Dayal – Minister of Environment accompanied by his wife planted the first tree to mark the official launching of Green Friends Mauritius.

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All the devotes stood in a line by the Rose Hill/Trianon road and planted the balance 149 trees simultaneously while all were singing the chant of Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu. They received the blessings of the Almighty in the form of a drizzle too.

GreenFriends is an international environmental initiative started by Amma in 2001.

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Green initiative launched in St. Petersburg

Inspired by Amma’s words that “each and every person on this planet should play their part in restoring harmony to Nature”, the group of Amma’s devotees from St. Petersburg, Russia, has launched a green initiative to help the local botanical garden.

Established in 1714, the garden is home to 7.5 thousand kinds of plants from all over the world. It is also a rare green spot in the midst of a big city where its residents can get some fresh air and relax. The garden however does not get enough funding from the State to take care of its vast territory.

Amma’s devotees saw this as an opportunity to serve the society and at the same time to strengthen their bond with Mother Nature. Activities that have already been undertaken include raking up fallen leaves, cultivating the soil, weeding the plants, etc.

Working in the beautiful surroundings of the Botanical Garden, the volunteers feel joy and a sense of fulfillment, restoring harmony both outside and inside. Just as Amma says, “This relationship with Nature will give us a new vitality.”

Clean up along the Suva sea beach

29 Jan 2012, Fiji

The first of Amma Fiji’s Green Friends initiative in 2012 was a beach clean up along the Suva Sea Wall. Over 30 participants, including expats and locals of all ages participated. Everybody worked cheerfully and even few people passing by joined in the cleaning work.

The group picked up hundreds of plastic bags and bottles, pieces of foam, and even some tires. Some of the rubbish had been there a long time as it was a real struggle to dig it out.

In the end, around 60 bags of garbage was picked up, and they managed to clean two beaches in two hours.

Inspired by Amma’s words, “It is our Dharma to take care of Nature”, Amma Fiji is planning to do other Green Friends activities throughout the year, such as holding workshops on composting and recycling waste.

GreenFriends towards greener society

GreenFriends representatives from several European countries met in the French Ashram, for an Easter retreat from 2 to 5 of April,  to launch GreenFriends (Europe), the informal network of all Embracing-the-World’s Green Initiatives in Europe.

The three-day retreat was a meeting to motivate, cultivate and develop newer ideas on Green initiatives for fostering the planet. On 2nd evening, few party games were organized as an ice-breaker to blend participants from various countries and cultures. The mornings on the next two days consisted of several workshops. People blended well with each other by doing common activities: building of the mandala garden for the ashram’s seed garden, bread cooking in the traditional wood oven, GrowIn workshops in the French ashram GrowIn space, making ecological plasters with lime, straw and clay, walking meditation in Nature, sharing experiences on the use of Effective Microorganisms, organic vegetable gardening amongst many more. A large party was organized on the last day evening that was more joy and less musings.

Several decisions were made and new commitments were setup as part of the meeting. On the evening of April 3rd,  11 selected projects from all over Europe were presented, as well as an UNESCO Initiative on education for sustainable living, that Embracing-the-World has started to promote as essential for green living. On the morning of April 5th, a large meeting enabled the participants to discuss the best way to work together in the future. GreenFriends (Europe) will start a European Volunteer Service Initiative in partnership with the European Commission and will use AVIEW, the video conference tool developed by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, for bimonthly e-meetings.

As satsang to all participants, Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya introduced the ecological issues that can be taken up by today’s youth. Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya emphasised the interest in today’s world to build ecological spiritual centers during her satsang. The French ashram has started building a network of ecological spiritual centers from different traditions.

The best time during the retreat was the inaugural puja for the new bee sanctuary. This project, known as BABEL, is an important project for the French ashram and had created motivational harmony amongst youth during its initial phase. This inauguration was a moment of sharing, full of joy, simplicity and grace. On the morning of April 5th, the first bee swarm was installed in the sanctuary.

The GreenFriends retreat concluded with many sharing the feeling of gratefulness. There was also an expressed desire from all participants towards a harmonious collaboration for a greener world.

Sprouting of GrowIn

italyOn the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (18th of April) AYUDH groups around the world connected via an internet web-cast to plant seeds together. Amma had blessed and inaugurated the GrowIn project on her last tour in EU and USA. {news} AYUDH community gardens have sprung up in USA, Germany, France, India and Australia.

As a second phase of the GrowIn project, AYUDH wanted to inspire individuals to grow their own vegetables at home. This new initiative as part of GrowIn was launched to create a feeling of togetherness amongst the “green-youth” and to provide them with professional guidance in setting up a small garden in their homes – on a balcony or a window shelf. Like the big tree that comes from a little seed, the open themes of the GrowIn range from green farming and agriculture to the many global issues such as those dealt with in the upcoming Milan Expo 2015.

People from many countries such as Germany, France, Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Kenya took part in the webcast and highlighted the work on many different vegetables that they could grow in small spaces. Australian youth had also joined in the action by planting seeds on that day although web-casting was not possible due to time differences. Every participant had prepared little country-flags, which were placed into the freshly planted pots, so that it can be noticed in pictures online where each pot is from. It was decided that each group will take photos of their plants in regular intervals and upload them online. AYUDH Italy had even organized some seminar talks to the participants by some local experts on Energy conservation and Solar Energy and had planted several vegetables on a small balcony garden at a house beside a famous Lake near Milan.

Amma in Paris

Paris, France, 25th – 27th October 2009

Amma’s program was attended by an endless crowd. People from all over France lined up outside as long as to the street corner almost 1 km away.

AYUDH, the youth wing presented the amazing ecological project called Babel that started in Amma’s French ashram in Pontqouin about 1 hour away from Paris city.

Welcoming Amma to France they said: “We are very happy to present the Babel project, which is inspired by Amma. It is a GreenFriends initiative, we want to build a sanctuary for the bees .”

Bee farming by Green friends

Bee farming by GreenFriends

West Cork, Ireland

The GreenFriends members in Ireland started bee farming. A devotee has provided space on her land for organic growing.

On ‘Bee Day’ 2009, Greenfriends Ireland beekeeper gave a practical course, including a visit to some hives and detailed presentations. The course was held in a house made of natural building materials, like straw and clay.

The Bee Day participants were keen as the beekeeper explains how the honeycomb is divided into areas of storage and breeding. The hive entrance designed as a very narrow gap to prevent others from stealing honey. A new double-sided plastic sheet known as ‘a foundation’ ensures that the hexagonal cells fit the dimensions of the hive. Individual wax combs were used to make honey extraction simpler; no need to destroy the colony’s hive, the method once used in beekeeping.

A healthy hive contains about 60,000 bees. A wild hive is known as a bees’ nest; to make one, bees use their hanging bodies as scaffolding. In manufactured hives, the upper part stores honey, the lower the brood and queen. In a natural beehive space, cells face outwards which explains the sheltered location under the eaves of the building or a tree.

Through these classes the participants were motivated to take up bee farming seriously and scientifically.

BABEL: the sacred yields of dreams

The myth of Babel took its roots in a dream: the common dream that men could contribute to something higher than themselves, their shared efforts could lead them to realms other than the usual ones. But in the myth, the attempt was solely based on man’s might, and it hence cut itself from divine grace. Men ceased to understand one another, suddenly facing the limits of their human condition. The endeavor failed.

BABEL is a youth initiative from GreenFriends of France. It proposed a path for reconnecting to Nature to youngsters using concrete projects. The main one was a bee sanctuary : a fully-ecology small temple with bees living inside the walls. From inside, one can see, hear and smell them in security through glasses and nests and meditate with them.

With the blessing of Amma when the BABEL project started in the French Ashram last year, it was grounded on a relationship of understanding of the deep meaning of things, trying to transcend the myth’s shortcomings. Bringing together youths from all walks of life, the BABEL project intended to initiate a shared enquiry of our relationship to Nature and life. It mingled different approaches, providing participants with philosophical discussions, artistic sessions and practical workshops.

BABEL – Bois, Abeilles et Biodiversité pour une Ecologie Local, (in English: wood, bees and biodiversity for a local ecology) is a project managed by youngsters of the GreenFriends organization in France. It also refers to the myth of the BABEL tower which teaches us that both effort and Grace are needed for a project to succeed.

The project is implemented in two ways:

1) Applying the Rameal Chipped Wood method, an ecological technique that restores damaged soils by a natural process like in forests. It is an example of ecosystem management through the life of micro-fauna and flora of the soil.

2) The building of a bee house, a mud and straw eco-house with an eco-green roof and walls inhabited by bee swarms. From inside the house one will be able to experience the presence of bees: to smell, see and hear them with the help of a glass system with micro-infiltration. It will be quite an original therapeutic place to connect with bees and more generally with nature. Another benefit is that the bees will keep the bee house at a comfortable temperature. They need to do this so that their young survive and the house will be warm in winter, cool in summer.

The BABEL project is supported by the ‘Youth in Action Program’ of the European Union.

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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