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A meditation flash mob was held in Caracas the day before the elections…
Centro Madre is a National Model of Small-Scale Sustainable Agriculture by local publication Venezuela Analysis
The first Global Conference on Neohumanist Education to be held in Caracas, Venezuela concluded with much inspiration and positive interactions among educators, social activists and project coordinators from South and North America and Europe. It was co-sponsored by the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela and Ananda Marga Gurukula. On Monday, April 14, more than 180 participants came to the science faculty auditorium at the largest and oldest educational institute in the country, the Universidad Central de Venezuela, for an all-day program, to hear dynamic speakers from around the world. Presentations included cutting-edge holistic educational initiatives that are taking place in Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, India, Venezuela and the United States.
Following this one-day program, 50 people attended the three-day intensive seminar held at the Quinta Prout. Seven Brazilian Neohumanist schools in Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre sent representatives to this meeting, plus the preschool in Lima, Peru and of course the preschool in Caracas, Venezuela. The conference presented a unique opportunity for them all to meet and share their experiences. Much inspiration was shared during the closing ceremony. Here is one of the comments: “One month before the conference I had a dream in which many people were dancing in an auditorium with the colors of the rainbow. When I saw the poster for this conference with the colors of the rainbow, I was very happy. And when at the end of the conference in the university auditorium we did circular dancing on the stage and then together sang the song Venezuela, I realized that my dream had come true.” Complementary programs during the week included a trip with 70 people to the local Botanical Gardens where Ananda Marga guru Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar had visited. Dada Shambhushivananda gave a public talk to 70 students and teachers at the International School, and to 50 students and professors at the Pedagogical Institute. A bus trip to visit Centro Madre had 30 participants. Ole Brekke gave a one-day clown workshop to 40 very enthusiastic participants. And four radio interviews took place before the event, two on Venezuelan National Radio.
Ananda Marga Chile continues to run its yoga instructor courses as intensives during the summer, and throughout the year as well. They have become well recognised in Chile for their spiritual depth and non-commercial flavour. Costs are kept to a minimum in order to give a chance to everyone to participate in this special experience.
Our yoga teacher training has became well-known in Santiago city for its spiritual content and affordable cost. At the summer course at our rural retreat, 23 people shared the mystical experience of the 15-day training, with spiritual philosophy, asanas, kiirtan, workshops and vegetarian diet. The city course started in April with 35 students. These students also go to our rural retreat every second weekend for theoretical classes.
The course is unique in Chile because our yoga system is complete, including all aspects of traditional yoga, and this holistic approach is very popular. It’s a great experience to be trained in our wonderful retreat center near the great Rapel lake. People really experience a special grace there. After intensive spiritual practices for 15 days they feel a deep change in their soul and only return home with great difficulty!
A new yoga teacher course started in the port of San Antonio. It’s a collaboration between Ananda Marga and the municipality. 34 students joined and now are taking the annual course, Dada Mokshananda and two other asanas instructors are traveling there regularly to give the classes. Two more courses, Ayurvedic medicine and herbal medicine, will start in June.
Also this year, on the occasion of Ananda Purnima a full moon kiirtan with delicious vegetarian food was attended by 130 members of the public.
Rurapuk means “people who help each other” in Quechua, the language of the ancient Incas. The Rurapuk Project is run by AMURTEL in Lima, Peru. It is located in an area of Lima called Paraiso Alto, which is in a zone of extreme poverty. In Paraiso Alto there is no running water or sewerage system and most of the people live in one-room shacks with dirt floors. The center of the Rurapuk Project houses the Rurapuk Hot Lunch Program which serves a free hot lunch to 30 children and 2 elderly ladies five days a week. It is also the meeting place for Rurapuk Mothers, a women’s handicrafts collective. The local community learn reflexology and face-painting brightens up the day.
The newest program of the Rurapuk Center is the formation of a group of therapists who will treat and cure the local people of common conditions such as colds, digestive disorders, joint pain, and stress related issues. The primary form of treatment will be reflexology, accompanied by treatment with local medicinal plants, and diet therapy.
Doctor Mirtha Acosta, Peru’s best reflexologist, and Doctor Martin Corbacho, a local homeopathic physician, have just finished teaching the first series of classes. Eight participants have finished the series. In the last class, Doctor Mirtha asked the students if they had been practicing, and what results they had seen. Señora Julia described how she had cured her son’s cold. The youngest participant, 12 year old Karla, explained how she had cured her mother’s headaches.
Alicia Semanario, project participant, summed up the project: “We chose reflexology because it is low cost, low tech, and cures. We want to use medicinal plants because Peru has an abundance of them and they are accepted as part of our culture and history. Good healthy food is important for everyone. What you eat is what you become. Our purpose is to make a team of therapists who can cure simple fevers and pains because the people in Paraiso don’t have money to buy medicine or see a doctor.”
Today, Rurapuk Stars employs six hearing-disabled women and one non-disabled woman who is our designer and the creator of the first dolls. These women are working full-time at a fair wage to make hand-made ethnic Peruvian dolls. The hearing-disabled women are talented, sincere, hard-working, and have a refined sense of art and aesthetics. It has been our experience that, with patience and proper guidance, they do higher quality work than non-disabled people.
The Machu Picchu Stars doll-making project began in the year 2000 with the idea of generating work for the poorest of the poor in Lima. We started with very little: about US$6, two borrowed sewing machines, and volunteer help. Our first commercial products were Peruvian ethnic dolls. We worked very hard designing, producing, and marketing them and by 2003 the project had grown enough that we were able to incorporate a working team of five hearing-disabled women. We named the project Machu Picchu Stars.
Since that time, we created a company called “Machu Picchu Stars Peru” which sells and markets the dolls and other products. To date we have sold more than 10,000 dolls. Our biggest client is a gift store in the Lima airport, and we have also exported dolls to Sweden, Italy, England, Germany, Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Taiwan, Japan and the United States. We now have a trained workforce of ten deaf women who earn a fair wage. Since 2006 we have also produced children’s clothes, including recently for the American company Flit and Flitter, and have built up a capital of industrial sewing machines, materials, and finished dolls.
In Peru, when a person becomes deaf it usually terminates their chances for an education and to have a job. Because of the lack of special education in, most adult deaf people have not learned to speak, to read and write, or to use sign language fluently. So the challenge of the deaf is to communicate and most employers will not make the time nor have the patience to do this. These communication challenges make the deaf person almost unemployable. S/he often becomes depressed, loses self-confidence, and feels that s/he is a burden to the family. The mission of Machu Picchu Stars is to remove the barriers that Peruvian society has put in the way of deaf people and to give them the opportunity to work with dignity. It has been my greatest joy to see how the deaf members of our team have grown in self-confidence and self-esteem when given these opportunities. I have also seen again and again that our deaf women work harder and better than so-called “normal” people. They are able to share and work as a team in a way that puts hearing people to shame.
Didi Ananda Muktivrata