Amritadyuti Solar Home-Lighting System

27 Sep 2014, Amritapuri
Amritavarsham 61, Amma’s Birthday celebrations

14solarlight
Amrita Centre for Nanosciences introduced Amritadyuti, the Solar Home-Lighting System during Amma’s 61st birthday celebrations. This low-costs system consists of three LED lights, a radio and a mobile-charger powered from a solar-power system. It has been designed as a package for Amrita Kuteeram homes and village hamlets (of 101 villages of Amrita SeRVe) so as to ensure them power even if they are cut off from the main power grid.

C.N. Balakrishnan, Minister of Co-Operation unveiled Amritadyuti.

The Minister also unveiled Amrita Karshakan, a solution for farmers facing serious financial problems with regard to receiving fair compensation for their produce. It enables farmers to trade using SMS, Web and mobile platform as well as kiosks. The system also helps beneficiaries getting locally grown produce at a fair price in an efficient way. This will be a major contribution in Amrita SeRVE’s 101 Villages project.

MAM built 500 more houses in Uttarakhand and Kerala

27 Sep 2014, Amritapuri
Amritavarsham – Amma’s 61st Birthday celebrations

As part of Amma’s dream that everyone in the world should have a solid roof over their head, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math has constructed more than 45,000 homes for the homeless in more than 75 locations across India since 1998. Often, in response to floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters, entire villages are reconstructed at a time.

This year, the Math has constructed 500 houses in various locations in Kerala. And, in Uttarakhand, where the Math launched an Rs. 50-crore relief-and-rehabilitation package for flooding victims in 2013, the Math is constructing 250 houses. Sri. Rajnath Singh, the Hon. Union Minister for Home Affairs bestows keys and certificates to beneficiaries of this project, some of whom have come all the way from Uttarakhand.

Japanese students bring warmth to Uttarakhand

February 2014, Uttarakhand

A group of 73 students from all over Japan came together and travelled to India to help take part in Amma’s rehabilitation of the areas devastated by the 2013 floods in the state of Uttarakhand. Amma pledged to rebuild 500 homes in the area. The first phase of that work is going on in and around the village of Chandrapuri in the district of Rudraprayag, on the way up to Kedarnath.

Students from the IVUSA (International Volunteer University Student Association) organization have collaborated with Embracing the World since 1998, participating in projects to build homes for tsunami refugees in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and more recently in 2011 and 2012 in Raichur, after devastating floods in Karnataka.

Many of the volunteers in this group were coming back to India for the second or third time for this purpose.

Remarkably for many of the students, these few weeks of time they spent volunteering, involving long days of hard physical labor, is their only vacation for the year. Inspired by Amma’s own life of dedication and service, they choose to spend this time not for their own enjoyment, but to do something for the benefit of the less fortunate.

Upon their arrival, the students were given a formal welcome and honored as official state guests by Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Harish Rawat. When addressing the students the Chief Minister said, “Amma is doing wonderful work and if you are with her your path in life will become clear.” The Chief Minister spent some time interacting with everyone and expressed his admiration and support for the students’ efforts.

Over the next several days the students were involved in all aspects of the construction work, including concreting, assembling the metal foundation beams, and transporting building materials from the riverbed up steep hills to the sites. The students are an extremely well organized group and divided themselves up into smaller teams, spreading out to work throughout the valley at all the different construction sites.

Each day when they showed up to do their seva they were met by scores of local villagers who were swept up by the Japanese students’ enthusiasm and compelled to join in the fun. With their open heartedness and spirit of selfless service, the students created joyful interactions, much to the amusement of their local Indian co-workers. Despite the work being very hard on a physical level no one minded. It was really like a party and everyone could be seen smiling and laughing as they worked.

Most of the work involved bringing building materials to the hamlet of Batwadi Sonar where a community hall is being built for the villagers. All day the students and villagers together hiked up and down the steep hill to the hamlet carrying stones and sand that will be used to build the hall. At the end of each day, just before the sun went down everyone would gather together around a giant Pipal tree in the village and sing bhajans together. While there might not have been any professional singers or musicians there, the innocence and beauty of the singing directly carried over from the joy and cooperation the students and villagers had shared working together all day. {Read Blogs here}

On their final morning of work the Japanese students introduced the local villagers to the Amala Bharatam Campaign. Again working side by side with all the locals, the Japanese students fanned out and collected trash throughout the area. Dozens of bags of trash were filled from the riverbed, which is sadly still full of debris from the flooding many months before.

Before leaving the Japanese students took part in a formal cultural program held at one of the local schools just down the road in the town of Chandrapuri. The Rudraprayag District Collector, Mr. Raghav Langar presided over the festivities which included many songs and dances performed by both the Japanese and local students and was attended by hundreds of local people.

When it was time to say goodbye, both the students and locals were sad to bid farewell to their newfound friends. They Japanese students donated their time, energy, and enthusiasm, but the volunteers said that they received much more than we gave.

In the sharing of loving care across cultural boundaries and language barriers, the line between “giving” and “receiving” disappeared, and volunteers and recipients find that they are not so different after all. In truth, even though they spoke Japanese and Garwhali, they share a common mother tongue: the universal language of Love.

– Nath

Read blogs from Uttarakhand

MAM to build 500 more houses for the poor

27 Sep 2012, Amritapuri – Amma’s 59th Birthday celebrations

During the 59th birthday celebrations of Amma, along with the many charitable projects, a new phase for AmritaKuteeram, homes-for-the-homeless program, was launched.

K.V. Thomas, Central Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, inaugurated the new phase in which MAM will construct another 500 houses.

MAM has already constructed more than 45,000 such homes throughout India.

 

Japanese touch to Raichur houses

One should be able to see all of creation as one, the unity beyond the apparent diversity. Amma advises us to practice that attitude in our day to day life, and we could get a glimpse of it by seeing the IVUSA Japanese students working on the Amrita kuteeram site of Raichur, Karnataka. For one who is not familiar with Japanese culture, it is really surprising to observe the group-oriented mind, the absence of self-centered attitude and the enthusiasm these students have.

 

Seeing these 78 students (40 girls and 38 boys) acting as one, helping each other, responding all together with the same voice, one is reminded of the different cells of the same organism, and of course, of Amma’s teachings about selflessness and unity beyond diversity.

The IVUSA (International Volunteers University Student Association) group came to Raichur from 14 different universities from all over Japan, via Delhi and Hyderabad, arriving on the evening of Shivaratri. IVUSA has participated in Amma’s charitable activities over the last 14 years, including: the Gujarat earthquake housing project, a slum redevelopment project in Pune, tsunami relief work in Nagapattinam and Cochin, flood relief work in Raichur, etc.

The group was given a warm welcome by local villagers with garlands and a drum band. Shortly after arriving they were asked whether they are willing to walk to the Shivaratri program at the local Shiva temple, some 3 KMs away. Despite such a long exhausting trip, all enthusiastically expressed their desire to participate.
The temple was located on top of a rocky hill, providing an aerial view of the surrounding area: rice paddies, cotton and sugar cane fields, the Krishna river quietly flowing through the plains, and at the base of the hill, the two housing sites of the Raichur Amrita kuteeram project with a total of 717 houses between them. The local villagers led the bhajans while the chorus of Japanese students responded with their own inspired call of “Om Namah Shivaya.”

The next morning, all climbed aboard the truck and tractors for a ride to construction site, which is located 10 kilometres away. The volunteers arrived at the village to wonder struck looks from the villagers and the smiles, giggling and waving from the local children.

The day was mainly dedicated to the construction of a cement roof for the community hall, at a site with 160 Amrita kuteeram houses. After a day of hard work under the scorching sun of the Karnataka plains, everyone went to the Krishna river and had a cooling and refreshing bath, and were given sugar cane to eat from the villagers.

For the remaining few days, the students will focus their efforts on the Dirampur site and will help put the finishing touch on the houses (painting, cleaning, and adding that unique Japanese touch); to get the houses ready to be handed over to the beneficiaries who are now living on an overcrowded and monsoon-flooded island on the Krishna river.

After that, the students will travel to Amritapuri, to experience Amma’s darshan, and then back home, carrying along in their heart life-long memories of their journey in India.

– KaliCharan

Gift of grace in Raichur

These are the 242 brand new pink-coloured houses, standing in all their majesty. Newly paved roads criss-cross the length and breadth of the township, connecting each house. Huge black water tanks stand on either side of the road. 800 trees lovingly planted by the brahmacharis are swaying in the breeze. Lush greenery surrounds each house.
The people here rest easy; the  Krishna river will never flood their houses and farms ever again. This stretch of land where their new homes have been constructed is far above its reach—close enough that they can pipe in its waters to quench their thirst, but far enough away that any future flooding will not touch them.

Kuruvakurda is an island village encircled by two tributaries of the Krishna which have sustained and nourished it for generations. The last time the river flooded was 60 years ago; most of the villagers had heard of the flood only as a legend. Even for those who had lived through it, it was a distant enough memory that the experience was entirely devastating. Six days of unprecedented rainfall, from September 29 to October 4, 2009 caused the Krishna to overflow its banks, rushing into their villages and inundating their homes and fields. Collapsed houses, destroyed crops, lives and livestock lost – their lives were never to be the same again.

This story was repeating itself in hundreds of villages bordering the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Tragedy and devastation loomed large. News of the disaster brought tears to Amma’s eyes. She responded immediately, sending two contingents of medical personnel, accompanied by truckloads of medicines, blankets, garments and food. The Mata Amritanandamayi Math’s medical teams sought out those inaccessible villages that had not been reached out to by any other aid group, working to ensure that no one slipped through the cracks. While attending to the survivor’s wounds, they also worked to fight epidemic outbreaks that could prove even more deadly. {News: Karnataka and Andra flood relief photos}

 

The announcement

On November 27th, Amma announced a relief-and-rehabilitation package of Rs. 50 crores ($10.7 million USD) for those affected by the floods {news}. The team Amma had sent to survey the devastation brought back the name of one village which so far no aid group had offered to assist. Amma unhesitatingly offered to rehabilitate the populace of this village. That is how the construction of a thousand houses began in Dongrampura (Raichur District) replete with roads, parks, electricity, water and a community center.

On January 16th, a team of 14 brahmacharis landed in Raichur. That was an eclipse day, and though according to tradition one is not supposed to look at the sun or walk outdoors, they traversed the area without hesitation, visiting the proposed site and meeting the various district officials. The next day, the paperwork was finalized, and the very same day, the mammoth construction work commenced {news}.

 

Speed Mantra

Speed was their mantra; Amma’s children literally toiled nonstop, though the temperature soared up to 45o C; half the day they there would be no electricity; no water. Braving these hostile circumstances, they built the first 100 houses in less than 30 days (news) . They had fulfilled Amma’s dream of providing quick solace to those rendered homeless.

This construction miracle broke all records. Statewide, their accomplishment created ripples of awe in all circles. The government made a Powerpoint presentation of this incredible feat to other NGOs. They came in droves to see with their own eyes. Articles appeared in dailies, heaping praise. Ministers and top civil servants sang paeans from public platforms.

Keys to the houses

The keys of these houses were handed over to the grateful Chief Minister of the state of Karnataka during Amma’s Bangalore Brahmasthanam festival. {news}

New records were broken again and again after that day. 242 houses were handed over on August 4th, 2010. Today, almost all the allotted houses on the three sites stand completed, awaiting allotment by the Government for the displaced families. It is truly a gift of grace.

 

The villagers

In this area, the theft of construction materials by the villagers is quite common. It is such a troubled area that for the last 10 years, many officials had dared not enter. But in this area where outsiders would not step in, the brahmacharis were pleasantly surprised: there wasn’t even a single incident of theft.

The locals accepted the ashram and the ashram brahmacharis fully, and everybody mingled freely. They reciprocated the openness and the affection of the brahmacharis and the ashram. They were loving, generous and honest. Poor and illiterate they may be, but what more do they need for grace, when they have such hearts of gold?

Apart from providing shelter, Amma provided the survivors with a livelihood—hiring them in the hundreds for the house building. When they received their weekly wages, many of them would deposit a small portion of their wages in front of Amma’s photo (placed in the office cum residence of the brahmacharis), and bow in loving reverence. Amma generated so much spontaneous reverence and love in the villagers.

Volunteers from all over

Volunteers flowed in from all over India and even abroad. The whole district welcomed the two dozen Japanese student volunteers who came to help with the construction seva{news}. Amazed, even the District Collector came to see them toil. Each new group of volunteers brought a new burst of inspiration and the coolness of Amma’s love as they worked side by side with the brahmacharis in the sun and the heat. Students from Amrita University and Amrita Vidyalayam also came and contributed their help for the construction.
When some of the brahmacharis returned and visited this July, the villagers welcomed us back as if we were family members, with their heart-winning openness and warmth. Troupes of children would tag along with us from house to house, laughing and happy, sharing tidbits with us. And truly, we are family—Amma’s family. Sans race or religion, sans creed or class, defined by selflessness, and bound by love.

 

This house will remain with us

Eeramma lives in house #250 with her son Shekharappa and her 21-year-old grandson, who is working on his B.Ed. and already dreaming of a teacher’s job in the government. Before the flood, they were living in a slum. They say their new house is stronger. Eeramma is illiterate, but even at 65 years of age she exudes a certain vigour. Her feeling toward her new house is summed up when she states simply, “One might give lakhs (hundreds of thousands) rupees but it would not last. But this house will remain with us.”

Happy here
Though none of them can say exactly how old they are, the occupants of House # 232 are all quite young. Suryaprakash, the man of the house, guesses that he might be 23 or 24 years old. The couple have a little girl, Mahalakshmi, who they say is about a year old. With smiles ever-present, this small family has a roof over their heads, and they are happy here.

Ready smile
Shankaramma and Sannabasappa’s is a large family; nine of them are staying in the house, including their daughter-in-law and three children. Their extended family members have also been given new homes, situated nearby. On the corner near where their house stands, they have erected a shop to sell bananas, beedis, and small household items. Shankaramma, the head shopkeeper, has a ready smile.
The house is good
“The house is good and the courtyard is spacious” comments 50-year-old Sharanappa approvingly as he gestures toward his new home. Sharanappa is the Chairman of the Atkur Gram Panchayat (community). His wife Parvatamma, like most people in this area, is not sure about her age. Also like most people here, she is more at home speaking in Telugu. Andhra Pradesh is just a few kilometers away.
When will Amma come?
If one were to close one’s eyes and just listen to her speak, one would never guess she was 85 years old or anything close to it. That’s Eeramma.
Her children live on the other side of the island. Her husband passed away five years ago, Eeramma says with a twinge of sorrow. Both speech and thoughts are crystal clear. Neatly dressed, she looks fresh. Only her deeply lined face betrays her age.
In a clear voice she says, “Amma is blessing me all the time; I’m always praying to her.” Then she muses wistfully, “Amma comes to me in my dreams and wakes me up. But when I wake up, she’s not there.”
“I want to meet Amma, when will she come to Raichur?” she asks us keenly. What can we say? We console her saying, “Pray to Amma—she will definitely respond.” This much we know is true.

– Das

242 houses handed over to Raichur flood affected

Raichur, Karnataka, 4 August 2010:

Raichur houses

Mata Amritanandamayi Math provides 242 free houses to flood-hit
242 families from the flooded islands of Kurvakurda and Mangigadda received new homes today in the village of Dongrampur, in the Raichur District of Karnataka. As part of its Rs. 50-crore relief-and-rehabilitation project {news} for victims of unprecedented flooding in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh late last year, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) has pledged to build 2,000 new houses {news} for victims who lost their homes in the flooding. In February 2010, MAM became the first organisation to complete homes for the flood victims, when it completed 100 new houses just 20 days {news} after beginning construction. At the time, while presiding over the inauguration ceremony, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri. B.S. Yeddyurappa  lauded MAM’s efforts, and said he hoped the speed and efficiency with which MAM had completed the homes would inspire other NGOs to move quickly to help the flood victims.

The procurement of materials, management of the project, and liasion with government officials as well as members of the community was all handled by MAM.  Beyond that, many of Amma’s devotees and well wishers from all parts of India as well as University students from Japan {news}  volunteered their time and energy to help build the houses so quickly. The villagers of Dongrampur, where the houses are being constructed for the people from the flooded islands, were themselves extremely cooperative, despite the fact that their own houses have not yet been constructed.  MAM intends to build an additional 500 houses for the villagers of Dongrampur.  In addition to this, the people of the two island villages of Kurvakala and Agrahara are also being rehabilitated to a site on the mainland at Atkur.  All four affected villages have been regularly getting flooded during the monsoon season; the villagers have expressed great relief at being relocated to the safety of the mainland.

More than one million people were displaced by last year’s flooding.

The Chief Minister was also present for the handover of the 242 homes, where he exhorted the villagers to treat their new houses as temples. “Every morning, when I start my prayers, I remember Mata Amritanandamayi and all her good work. You are fortunate you are being given these new houses. Earlier, you people lived without toilets, electricity or water. All that is being provided to you now.” Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy, Housing Minister Katta Subramania Naidu and Fisheries Minister Anand Asnotikar also attended the function.

Swami Amritageetananda Puri, representing MAM, and Karnataka’s Revenue Minister, Shri. G. Karunakara Reddy, Housing Minister Shri. Katta Subramania Naidu and Fisheries Minister Anand Asnotikar were also present at the function.

Raichur houses

MAM provided each house with electricity and clean drinking water, and also paved new roads for the villagers. Rangamma, wife of Dodda Rangappa, from the island of Kurvaka, was one of the recipients. Expressing gratitude for her new home where she will live along with her family, Rangamma said that she was very happy when her name was announced as one of the beneficiaries. Even before the flooding, she never dreamt of living in such a well-built house with all standard amenities.

— Tulasi

Amma will inspire others

February 17 – Bengaluru, Bharata Yatra 2010    `

The Chief Minister of Karnataka, BS Yeddyurappa, was on hand today to receive the symbolic key of the first 100 houses built by MAM for the 2009 flood victims. Upon receiving the key from Amma, the Chief Minister in turn handed it over to the deputy commissioner of the Raichur district. The ashram is planning to build a total of 2000 houses in Karnataka. Earlier the Ashram had announced 50 crores for the rehabilitation of the flood affected area.

After handing over the key, the Chief Minister addressed the packed gathering on the Ashram grounds and said, “For people like me in public life and people living in urban areas with life’s tensions, Amma has come to shower Her Love. All over the world people wait for Amma’s arrival and Darshan like the proverbial chataka birds waiting for the rain.”

The Chief Minister said that the flood-affected areas have been severely damaged; millions of acres of crops have been destroyed, and more than 100,000 houses have been affected.  He commended Amma on setting an example of how to react to a crisis and how honored he felt to have the opportunity to meet Amma.

The Chief Minister shared with everyone how the MAM’s involvement with the government came about. ‘On 15th January MAM entered into an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the government. And within 20 days, Amma has completed 100 houses and the key has been handed over to me. I am grateful to Amma.  This will inspire other donors to complete projects with the same zeal and urgency.’

Prior to coming to the stage. the Chief Minister had an opportunity to meet with Amma privately.  In that meeting the local MLA, Miss Shobha Karandlaje, proposed that Amma set up a multi speciality hospital.

The Chief Minister ended his address by requesting AMMA to visit the flood affected areas and console the affected.

–Kannadi

Easing the suffering of mankind

22 December, Kodungallur –Bharata Yatra 2009

During the first evening program of the annual Brahmasthanam festival in Kodungallur, Amma extended several of the ashram’s charitable projects to recipients in the area.

Sewing machines were  distributed along with financial working capital to start self-help groups for impoverished women.

KP Dhanapalan,  a Member of Parliment of the Mukundapuram District of Kerala, distributed keys to houses built around Kodungallur as part of the Amritakuteeram Project.

In the inaugural address MR. Dhanapalan shared a recent personal experience he had with Amma in New Delhi:
“When I was in Delhi 3 weeks ago I saw the news that Amma was also in town, but since I was leaving that same day  I was sad I missed my chance to meet her. When I went to the airport to catch my flight back to Kerala, I saw many people wearing white and I hoped that maybe I would get lucky and still see her, but Amma was not there.  But then after I boarded the flight and took my seat, just a few minutes before take off, Amma and the Swamis also boarded the plane.  She sat just across the aisle from me. By God’s will for the next three hours I travelled with Amma.  Usually I would carry a book and read through the journey.  But for that day I could not read a single page.  After getting her darshan, I  watched her closely for rest of the flight. Amma was  pulling out papers from her bag, reading them and giving some instructions to Swamini. I realised that those were the letters devotees had written to her. It then became very clear to me that Amma is some one who has dedicated her whole life, every second, to ease the suffering of humanity.”

Swami Prashanthananda, President Sri Ramakrishna Math Trissur; VD Sateeshan, MLA from Pravoor; PD Viswambharan, Chairman Kodungallur Muncipality; Dr. Vijayakumar, District Judge,  were the other dignitaries sharing the stage with Amma.

– Dass