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We are able to dream and dream big

Five young survivors of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake who have been receiving Embracing the World scholarships since then wrote a letter to Amma after graduating from high school this summer. They wrote:

“Dear Amma,
We would like to thank you for allowing us to graduate, because without your financial support this journey might not have been possible, because our country’s social and political situation sometimes doesn’t give us the chance to have dreams, but with this great support we are able to dream and dream big. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us to complete our journey, we guarantee you it will not be in vain.

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Picture from left: Christian Vendryes wants to study computer science and obtain a Master’s in video game programming. Barbara Ademar wants to study Civil Engineering. Quenjunie Paul and Neph Louis both want to study Medicine. Christopher Desilus wants to study Business Administration.

Once again thank you for everything from the bottom of our hearts!”

8 Aug 2015

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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Vidyamritam extented to 3000 more students

27 Sep 2012, Amritapuri – Amma’s 59th Birthday celebrations
Vidyamritam, free educational scholarships-for-the-poor program was expanded from 37,000 to 40,000 beneficiaries. K.C. Venugopal, Central Minister of State for Power handed over the cheque to the beneficiaries as part of the number of charitable activities launched during the 59th birthday celebrations of Amma.

New service initiatives on 58th birthday of Amma

Each year on Amma’s birthday, Mata Amritanandamayi Math inaugurates new charities, expands existing ones and releases a number of new publications. There was a formal public function for this as part of the birthday celebrations.

Many dignitaries were there for the function. They include: His Excellency Sri. K. Sankaranarayanan, the Governor of Maharashtra; Sri. Vilasrao Deshmukh, Honourable Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences; Sri. K.C. Venugopal, Honourable Union Minister of State for Power; Sri. Vishnupada Rai, MP, Andaman Islands; Sri. N. Peethambara Kurup, MP, Kollam; Philipose Mar Chrysostam, the senior Metropolitan Bishop of the Mar Thoma Church; Swami Prakashananda, Head of Sivagiri Ashram; Swami Pranavananda Teerthapada, Head of Panmana Ashram; Sheikh Aly N’Daw, the President of the International Sufi School in Senegal; Sri. M.P. Veerendrakumar, Managing Director of Mathrubhumi; and Sri. O. Rajagopal, former minister, amongst others.

Swami Amritaswarupananda formally welcomed all of them.

“For most people, birthdays are a holiday—a day we stop everything and allow the world to worship us. We become ‘king for a day.’ Our spouse and children do special things for us. We get presents. A feast is prepared. Perhaps we don’t even go to work. We stay home and relax. Very often, if someone asks us to help them on this day, we say, ‘Please, not today. It’s my birthday.’ But for Amma, this is yet another day to selflessly serve the world, just as she does seven every other day.” said in his welcome speech.

Two new projects

Two new projects were lauched on this occasion. Free Tuition Program by Sri. Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Honorable Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences and Amrita Santvanam by His Excellency K.Sankaranarayanan, the Governor of Maharashtra.

Ongoing projects

Amrita Nidhi pension program – providing widows and other disadvantaged individuals with monthly pension checks was extended to another 5,000 beneficiaries throughout India. The checks were officially presented to 25 beneficiaries by Sri. N. Peethambara Kurup, MP.

As part of AmritaSREE Suraksha – a joint venture between the Mata Amritanandamayi Math and the Life Insurance Corporation of India – 3,000 scholarships to children of members of AmritaSREE (Self Reliance Economic Empowerment) self-help groups were distributed by Sri. K.C. Venugopal, Honorable Union Minister of State for Power.

The Vidyamritam Scholarship Program, was also extended. Sri. Vilasrao Deshmukh distributed the scholarships to 25 students, representing the 5,000 new beneficiaries.

Book releases:

MAM Mission Trusts following books was released by Sheyl Al N’Daw, the President of the International School of Sufis, Senegal.

Amrita Darshanam, a collection of Amma’s sayings
Nectar of Wisdom, a compilation of teachings by Amma
Varaprasadam, a collection of poetry by Swami Turiyamritananda Puri
Blesssed Life by Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri (Malayalam translation)
Torrential Love by Swamini Krishnamrita Prana (Malayalam translation)
Random Reflections, a collection of poetry by Evoor G. Madhavan Nair

Amrita Books was launched on Amma’s 57th birthday in order to ensure books of about Amma and her teachings are available in books stores in India. Its four books were released on this occasion.

Amma: The Life of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi – in Hindi, Kannada and Telugu.
From Amma’s Heart – in Kannada

Matruvani Birthday Souvenir by Swami Prakashananda, the head of Sivagiri Ashram.

Amma’s Advice: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times, a coffee-table book by Konarak publications  by His Grace Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostam Mar Thoma Metropolitan.

Amrita Keerti

This year’s Amrita Keerti Puraskar went to Sri. Veerendrakumar, the managing director of Mathrubhumi, in recognition of his philosophical travel memoir, Haimavatabhuvil.

Veerendrakumar was presented with the customary cash award of Rs. 1,23,456, a statuette created by sculptor Namboodiri, as well as a citation were presented by His Excellency Sri. K. Sankaranarayanan, the Governor of Maharashtra.

After receiving the award, Veerendrakumar addressed the gathering, saying that Amma has symbolized the true message of unconditional compassion. He also said that he considers the award as a blessing, not just an award, and considers himself a very fortunate person for receiving it upon Amma’s birthday. “India exists not on its military strength. It has survived through the centuries by drawing strength and inspiration from its spiritually-oriented culture. Through Amma’s spiritual guidance and acts of charity transcending national borders she helped humanity experience love, mercy and grace in a world of hard realities.”

In his address, Venugopal said, “Amritapuri has been transformed into a center not for just spiritual pursuits, but has become a nerve-centre for human welfare across the world—be it natural calamities across the world or a wide range of programs aimed at the poor, cutting across barriers of color, caste and creed.”

Amma also conducted a mass marriage for the underprivileged couples.

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Amma in Hyderabad

27 – 28 February , Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh – Bharata Yatra 2011

Amma’s return to Hyderabad was marked by a significant expansion of her ongoing humanitarian projects—shortly after her first evening program began, a seemingly never-ending line of children flowed across the stage, standing in line patiently to receive a hug and a kiss from Amma, and another gift as well—a scholarship check. But in fact the children on the stage were representative of a crowd too massive to accommodate on stage during the evening program; waiting in the wings were more than 1,000 children who would receive checks that night, away from the spotlight but under the loving care and watchful eye of Amma’s volunteers. Each of the children would receive Amma’s darshan during the course of the evening, and they left the grounds of Amma’s ashram clutching their memory of their personal moments with Amma in one hand, and a ticket to a brighter future in the other.

Anita, who is currently studying the 8th standard has been a beneficiary of the Vidyamritam program for the past 3 years. She expressed her gratitude to Amma and told how with her scholarship she can buy books and pay her school fees. She shared how her parents are very poor and without this scholarship would not be able to complete her studies. She hopes one day to become an IAS (India Administrative Services) officer and wants to be able to help people like Amma does.

Mahesh, another recipient of a Vidyamritam scholarship, shared that both his parents died and he lives with his grandparents. He said, “I am very grateful and i am able to study because of this scholarship. I hope Amma is able to help more kids like me.”

Amma also took the occasion to launch the Amala Bharatam Campaign in Hyderabad, and each of the students of Amrita Vidyalayam school here received handkerchiefs which they were encouraged to use instead of spitting on the ground. The students, and the entire assembled crowd, received a personal demonstration from Amma on how she envisions using the handkerchief in a sanitary and sustained fashion, carefully folding it over after use.

After her satsang, Amma personally led the manasa puja in Telugu, and sang quite a few bhajans in Telugu as well—to the delight of the devotees of Hyderabad.

In the evening, during the darshan, the children of Amrita Vidyalayam put on various cultural performances. In addition, a group of tribal performers from Bhadrachalam staged a koya dance. Also, Sri. Samala Venu, renowned magician and hypnotist, performed some magic tricks to the delight of onlookers. Having dedicated his performance to Amma, he appeared to magically transform a long black shawl into brightly colored shawl bearing all the hues of the rainbow. Mr Venu, said that this represented the same magic trick Amma performs on each person who comes to her, transforming the darkness of their sorrow into a rainbow of peace and bliss.

The following dignitaries shared the dais with Amma: Sri. Chandravadhan, IAS Officer and Commissioner, Ayush; Minister for Textiles Sri. Shankar Rao; Former Minister Sri. Govardhan Reddy; and Smt. Ritha Chandrachud, Operations Head of the renowned Dr. Reddy’s Hospital.

Also on this occasion, Swami Purnamritanandaji’s book, Unforgettable Memories, was released in Telugu under the name Amrita Smrutulu.

At the end of the last darshan Amma led everyone in a joyous rendition of Devi Devi Devi in Telugu.

– Kannadi

Amma in Hyderabad

21-22 February, Hyderabad — Bharata Yatra 2010
Two days of Brahmasthanam festival programs were held in the ashram in the Mahendra Hills, Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

Amma’s satsangs were translated into Telugu, the local language, and touched on many points.  Highlights included the importance of giving and generosity, the value of avoiding intoxicants, and the meaning and worth of self-control.

Amma sang many new and old bhajans in the Telugu language and led a manasa puja at each program, speaking in Telugu at the puja. The devotees were thrilled to hear Amma speak their native tongue. When Amma started to speak in Telugu, there was a roar of applause from the crowd. As part of the program, Amma distributed free educational scholarships to five hundred more students under the Vidyamritam free scholarship scheme.

Students of the Amrita Vidyalayam, Hyderabad, performed a drama and danced during Amma’s darshan.

Vidyamritam: bagging prize, winning the heart

harithaThe series of competitions organized for Vidyamritam beneficiaries across Kerala culminated in the finals of the elocution competitions in the junior and senior category, held at the Pandal erected in the Engineering College grounds of Amritapuri campus.  Both categories saw eight participants each arguing vociferously on the need to preserve Mother Nature for a healthy future for mankind.  The topics for junior category was ” Nature, My Mother”, where Neethu T PIllai from Pathanamthitta bagged the first prize while the seniors were given a choice of topics between “Save Nature to Save Mankind” and “World Peace through Human Values”. Haritha K K from Malappuram won the first prize in that category by speaking on the former topic.

Mr. C. P Nair, former Chief Secretary for the Kerala Government and a judge for the event remarked “All the participants have a very refined accent and intonation.” Other judges were M. G Radhakrishnan, Assistant Editor, India Today magazine and P. Rajan, a veteran journalist. Mr. M. G Radhakrishnan advised the students its not enough to use good vocabulary but the need  to imbibe Amma’s style of speech. “Amma’s speaks on the stage like she is talking to a neighbour. It is so earthy. There is simplicity. Those words come from experience.”

Almost all the participants winded up their speech with special thanks to Amma for giving them a forum of this magnitude to express their oratorical skills.  The participants are all from rural villages of Kerala and many are travelling outside their villages for the first time in their lives. Mata Amritanandamayi Math had arranged a series of competitions including Essay Writing Service, Pencil Sketching, Poetry, Painting and Elocution. The finals for all competitions except elocution was conducted in the first phase held on September 6, 2009 which had around 2000 participants from all over Kerala painting, sketching and writing not only in an effort to win prizes but also for an opportunity to showcase their talents.

The prizes were distributed in a special function held on the eve of 26th.

Art competition for Vidyamritam recipients

21 September 2009 — Amritapuri

Approximately 10,000 children—ages nine to 16, from all over Kerala—will begin converging on Amritapuri in the evening of 24th September. They are coming to participate in a grand finale of cultural events that have been organized for the beneficiaries of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math’s (MAM) Vidyamritam scholarship program.

MAM started Vidyamritam in 2007 in order to provide scholarships to children from impoverished agricultural families throughout India. So far, 30,000 children have been enrolled in the program. Another 2,000 will be officially enrolled in Amritapuri on the 26th of September. The new batch of beneficiaries not only includes children from agricultural families, but also children with parents who have HIV/AIDS and orphans.

In fact, Vidyamritam offers more than scholarships. This academic year, beneficiaries have been encouraged to participate in a series of literary and cultural competitions. On September 6, 2009, 3,000 Vidyamritam beneficiaries took part in competitions held at 22 centres throughout Kerala. Events included poetry, elocution, painting and pencil sketching. The competitions were arranged by the volunteers from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, MAM’s deemed university.

For junior students, the theme was “Nature, My Mother” and “Through loving and contented family life, one can achieve peace in society.” For senior students, it was “By protecting Nature, we protect mankind” and “World peace can be achieved by developing human values in individuals.” Students and their parents were bussed to and from the competition centres by MAM. Meals were provided, as were the necessary materials in order to compete. Each child was also given a pen, a pencil and a box of water colours.

The work of the top 25 or so competitors has been sent to eminent Malayalam writers and artists for selection of prize winners. The semi-finals and final round of elocution are slated for the 25th and 26th of September in Amritapuri. The judges for the finals are also eminent figures in Kerala’s literature scene.

Vidyamritam extended to include HIV/AIDS orphans

21 September 2009 – Amritapuri

On 26 September 2009, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) will provide another 2,000 scholarships to impoverished children. The scholarships are part of the Vidyamritam program {news}, through which 30,000 children throughout India are already receiving such aid.

Vidyamritam was launched by MAM in September 2007 in order to help fight ‘farmer suicide,’ an epidemic plaguing India with increasing frequency, as drought, crop failure and debt become more and more common. Experts say that at least 160,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997, with 17,500 incidents between 2002 and 2006. Perhaps one of the most shocking statistics is one reported in the Vidarbha Region of Maharashtra, wherein, in 2006, 1,044 suicides were reported in the agricultural community—that is one death every eight hours.

Through Vidyamritam, MAM will ultimately pay for the education of 100,000 children living below the poverty line. The 2,000 scholarships will expand the current number of scholarships to a total of 32,000. The latest batch of beneficiaries not only includes children who have lost parents to farmer suicide, but also children whose parents have HIV/AIDS or have been otherwise orphaned.

The children (ages 10 to 15) receive a quarterly stipend until they finish their education. MAM volunteers regularly verify the children are continuing their educations and that the funds are being used either for school fees or supplies.

Reports show that farmers in India are committing suicide over debts as small as $300 U.S. As such, the Vidyamritam scholarships help keep children in school without adding to their parents’ sense of financial burden. Only if the children of such families receive proper educations will their families be freed from total dependence on agriculture as a source of income.

Vidyamritam is a permanent humanitarian program of MAM, with new students taking over the scholarships of graduates.

Beneficiaries are from the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.

As an extension of this project, MAM is conducting camps and programs for Vidyamritam beneficiaries in order to help inculcate values and a sense of empowerment. One such program—for 10,000 Vidyamritam beneficiaries—will be held at Amritapuri on 26 and 27 September.

Educational scholarships are also offered in Singapore {news} and  Nairobi {news}.