Jharkhand team 2015

I will take the light to dispel the darkness

“When I return to my village I will teach how one becomes physically dependent on alcohol and how difficult it is to stop drinking once you start,” said Pankaj Kumar, age twenty-two. “I will explain how inhaling smoke from indoor stoves is bad for health, and how chimneys can easily be installed.”

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Pankaj, from the flood devastated state of Uttarakhand, was one of twenty one men and women who just completed a one month Health Worker Training Course in Amritapuri as a part of Amrita SeRVe’s 101 Self Reliant Villages undertaking. The group was invited from villages in Bihar, Chattisgarh, Rajastan and Uttarakhand. During the course, they learned skills that will help educate their rural communities on health related issues.

Hemalata Bist, a twenty-eight year old mother of two from Uttrakhand, enjoyed the classes, which included a two-week program at AIMS – Amma’s hospital in Cochin. There, they learned to recognize the symptoms of diseases and the importance of hygiene.

“We can educate people to get medical help early to prevent illness,” Hemalata said. “I will spread awareness on how disease can be prevented by cleanliness.”

Participants attended workshops ranging from first aid, basic hygiene, and early detection of diseases, to waste management, compost making, recycling and re-using plastic, building smokeless stoves, and making natural water filters. Participants also learned about pesticides, organic farming and how to start a vegetable garden. Daily yoga classes were also given.

P. Ganga Reddy, from Chattisgharh, was surprised to learn that washing one’s hands is an important disease preventative. “I will tell everyone in my village that by washing their hands regularly they can avoid many serious illnesses,” she said with an excited smile.

Shyamlal Poyam, twenty-two, also from Chattisgharh, said his village uses a lot of pesticides for farming. He is eager to share what he learned in the course about organic farming and natural fertilizers. “We can shift from using pesticides to natural farming. This will protect our health for the future.”

“There is a lack of clean water in my village,” Shyamlal added. “People and animals bath in the same river and there are many skin diseases. The AmritaServe teachers showed us how to make water filters from materials found in nature. I am happy to bring this knowledge to my village and show them how easy it is to make these.”

Ramavathar Meena, age twenty-six, from Rajastan agreed, “We learned that water filters purify the water and this will help stop the problem of diarrhea in our villages. I will share all of what I have learned here. I will also explain to people that smoking causes cancer  and I will encourage people to stop smoking.”

“I will tell how standing water is a breeding ground for malaria carrying mosquitoes,” noted Ramavathar, who is also anxious to inform his village about the toxicity of pesticides and smoke from indoor stoves. He is excited to share the solutions that were offered in the class; building stove chimneys, and using organic fertilizer. He did not stop there, “I will inform everyone about how inhaling smoke from burning plastic causes lung diseases. I will encourage people to use cloth bags at the market and not plastic!”

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Sunil Mishra, age thirty-seven, from Bihar, said he was very inspired by the Hatha Yoga classes he attended as part of the program in the Ashram. “Practicing yoga is the first step for good health. Yoga is a free medicine. I will go back and teach the youth in my village the Surya Namaskaram!”

When asked how he came to this program, Sunil exclaimed proudly, “Amma adopted my village!” He continued, “I like being in the ashram because everyone is peaceful and smiling! I will do my best to influence the people in my village to live a life with love so we can have compassion towards all living things, foster nonviolence within ourselves, and be truthful to each other.”

Shyamalal enjoyed the diversity in the Ashram and he liked, “to see all the people from different backgrounds and countries.”

Pankaj said, “I feel as if I was born here. Everyone is very loving to us.” Everyone in the course agreed.

Ramavathar added, “The people here in the ashram showed love to us even though they did not know us. That is invaluable.”

Hemalata added, “I never dreamed I would feel comfortable traveling so far from my village, but now I want to stay!”

Harrish, twenty-two from Uttarakhand, nodded his head in agreement, “My life has changed for the better from my stay here. I also wish I could stay but I have parents to take care of.”

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Amma said of the group, “They have come to the ashram with the attitude of asking what they can do for society.”

Amma knows well their hearts. Harish promised to “take the light of what I learned here and bring it with me to my village and to dispel the darkness all around.”

The group was asked, “What is the most important thing you experienced from your stay here that you will share with others?” Hemalata answered without hesitation, “Amma’s darshan! I didn’t know Amma before coming here. I had only seen a photo. But now I can go back and speak about Amma. I will remember Amma in every breath and cell of my body. Amma is in my heart.”

– Sundar

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Distributing sarees in Tamil Nadu

Under the leadership of Br. Ajamrita Chaitanya, MAM distributed sarees for the poor people in connection with Amma’s 61st birth days celebrations at Tenkasi, Puliyarai, Ayikudi, Puliyangudi, Pavoor areas of Tirunelveli district; Sattur, Thiruthangal, Dhalavaipuram, chatrapatti and Rajapalayam in Tirunelveli district; Thirupachetti in Sivagana district; Palamedu, Samayanallur, Melur areas of Madurai district; Natham, Ayyampalayam, Chitrarevu areas of Dindigul district; and Cumbum of Theni district of Tamil Nadu. Swami visited their home and thousands of sarees were distributed personally. They were so happy as it was Deepavali season and they considered it as a Deepavali (Diwali) present from Amma.

 

Attappadi medical camp and health awareness class

In commemoration of the Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Tribal Welfare Work at Attappadi, a medical camp led by Dr. Ageesh from the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (Amrita Hospital) – Kochi, consulted 68 tribal patients and they were given medications. 18 glucose tests were administered and the proper medications were given. All medicines were supplied free of cost.

Eswari Resan held an orientation class for the Tribal Health Animators (who are undergoing training at AIMS). The class, which focused on the tribal health and education problems faced in the hamlets, was given through the tablet education project run by CREATE @Amrita.
Yoga counseling was also administered to 21 tribal youngsters.

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Training the tribal youth in Attappadi

25 Oct 2014, Attappadi, Kerala

Computer training, tailoring classes started for the tribal youth in Attappadi. They also taught to make soap powder and cleaning lotion so that they can earn their daily bread.

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Making soap powder

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Computer education

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Making cleaning lotion

 

White Canes to the blind youth in Kenya

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On behalf of Embracing the World, Mr. Nagesh Karuturi, chairman of MAM Charitable Trust, Kenya, is handing over the first canes to students of Thika school for the visually impaired, Kenya.

On the occasion of Amma’s 61st birthday, Embracing the World and AYUDH Kenya volunteers handed over the first set of  canes to blind youth at Thika school, Kenya.

The visually-impaired school has a mixture of students who have varying degree of vision loss, from albino children with photosensitive eyes to completely blind children. Yet, not a single one of them had owned a cane, which can make life much significantly easier for a blind person.

Upon receiving the canes, the entire children body did a big “thank you” jig by clapping, clicking and stamping the floor in succession. Two girls came forward, and one of them thanked AYUDH and the good work being done by the White C(r)ane project, while the second girl recited a beautiful prayer. AYUDH promised them to be back with more canes in the near future and to make sure that every child who needs a white cane in the school gets it. AYUDH has already collected funds for a total of 300 canes and is currently looking into finding the right sizes and models matching the needs of children and youth in Kenya.

 

 

 

 

 

Empowerment through sanitation in Odisha

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

Public hygiene and improved sanitation for its population is India’s newest priority; in order to achieve this goal, India aims to end open defecation by 2019. Moreover there is a lack of sanitation awareness in these communities that consequently arise in preventable diseases.

 

To address the problems of lack of toilets in the country, Ammachi Labs of Amrita University is rolling out vocational courses such as Masonry, Plumbing and Electrical Wiring through which women in villages are being taught construction, installation and maintenance of toilets. This project is creating ambassadors for women safety and hygiene.

As part of the first phase of its latest project, 20 women in the village of Bhoi Sahi in Odisha have become agents of change and an inspiration for all women, having completed building fully functional toilets in their own homes.

The women started building the toilets earlier this month and have completed 9 toilets with another 11 more on the way.

Amma’s initiatives in empowering women have taken an innovative turn with the introduction of technology to deliver vocational education. The Bhoi Sahi women are thrilled to acquire new skills and learn through computers. One of the students, Shantilata explained that currently the women travel one kilometer to relieve themselves in the field. Many of them travel there in the early mornings and late at nights to attain some sort of privacy.

“It is quite brilliant what Amrita University is trying to do through this initiative – converting their most acute problem which is open defecation and lack of basic hygiene, into an opportunity to solve their immediate problems on ground as well as facilitating the increase in quality of life through skill development.”, quotes Sreeram, a field researcher at Ammachi Labs.

Ammachi Labs has provided vocational training using technology to more than 4000 women from rural and tribal areas, to date. Ammachi Labs’ revolutionary approach strives to achieve economic and social empowerment by using computerised vocational education training (cVET). The lab has developed Life Enrichment Education (LEE) courses to address existing social issues in the communities and practical training to support these women in acquiring new skills, we ensure each student enjoys a holistic experience. LEE awareness workshops were conducted and activities on hygiene, and have plans to deliver gender equality, human rights, and financial literacy modules to enhance their current understanding. With time, leaders emerged from the group of women who showed increasing amounts of initiative to sustain this project.

 

 

“With these new toilets, many expressed that they would feel safer and feel better about themselves; they see the short term rewards of having a toilet while reaping long term benefits for attaining a skill that they can generate an income for themselves and ensure the health of their families. It is our goal for these ladies that upon completion of the project, they form a women’s cooperative and receive support from one another” said Prof. R. Bhavani Rao, Director of Ammachi Labs.

Inspired by this Vishnu Prasad, the Sarpanch of Bhoisaahi came as a testament of his support for the project. He has sanctioned these women to construct 3,000 toilets for 10,000 Rs per toilet.

-Tulasi

 

Empowering women through vocational training

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

Amma’s initiatives in empowering women have taken an innovative turn with the introduction of technology to deliver vocational education with, more than 2,000 women have been trained in the last year alone through 33 centers in 12 Indian states. During Amritavarsham61, Radha Mohandas Agarwal, Chief Whip, UP and Vellappilly Natesan gave away certificates of completion to graduates in such fields as plumbing, nursing, masonry and jewelry-making.

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Vocational-training is an important part of the MAM’s Amrita SeRVe village-empowerment program.

AMMACHI Lab’s Heartfelt Arts empowers women artisans and cooperatives to leverage their newly learned skills into creating beautiful handicrafts and products that generate sustainable income for their communities. In attendance, are hundreds of women artisans from 16 centers across India. On this occassion, Vellapally Natesan, General Secretary of the SNDP launched a new website www.heartfeltarts.com where they will be able to showcase their handicrafts.

Amrita Nidhi pension for widows and handicapped extended by 30,000 more

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

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The Mata Amritanandamayi Math would like to extend the reach of its Amrita Nidhi pension program, from 69,000 to 99,000–30,000 more pensions.  On this occassion of Amma’s 61st Birthday, certificates of enrollment and first pension checks to 100 of the new beneficiaries were distributed.

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Vidyamritam scholarship program extended from 46,000 to 51,000 beneficiaries

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

Mata Amritanandamayi Math extended the reach of its Vidyamritam Scholarships for the underprivileged by another 5,000.

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Vidyamritam started in 2007 and, through it, 46,000 children are currently receiving scholarships in the form of a monthly stipend until they finish their education. Vidyamritam’s reach was extended by another 5,000 students from 46,000 to 51,000 during Amritavarsham.

Approximately 100 new recipients received their scholarship checks on this occassion.

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