Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2015’
Our primary school in Tirana continues under the supervision of local margiis.
The Syrian crisis has led to a large number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and refugees. At the end of September this figure stood at around 2 million IDPs in Syria and 400,000 refugees in neighboring countries. Most of these people depend on humanitarian assistance, or sharing host families’ dwindling resources to meet basic needs. This figure is growing daily and has led to a doubling of people in need in the last couple of months.
AMURT and AMURTEL has local volunteers in Syria and Lebanon distributing food, non-food items and providing assistance with medical and educational needs. In Lebanon, AMURT runs case management services for refugee families hosted by their friends and relatives in the mountain villages overlooking Beirut. The AMURT team selects the most urgent cases and works patiently to meet their individual needs, be they getting a child admitted to a local school, or finding a hospital willing to provide urgent medical care.
Many of the refugees have harrowing tales to tell. Mohammed, a grandfather, took shelter with relatives in western Syria, but had trouble even getting bread as the streets were too dangerous to enter. He used his savings to pay an exorbitant fee to a driver to take him across the border. “It was like escaping from jail,” Mohammed said. “The driver took a lot of money because we could die in the street.” We have organized much-needed medical supplies and winter items for Mohammed and his family.
AMURT is appealing for funds to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of refugees seeking our assistance.
Zahraa and her family arrived in Lebanon as refugees from Syria a month ago. For the first two weeks they stayed at a construction site but are now in temporary housing. AMURT helped Zahraa to go to school and provided her family with bedding and other necessities for the winter.
These siblings escaped Syria with their mother. Their father had to stay behind as he is on dialysis and the treatment is beyond their means in Lebanon. AMURT helped this family with clothes and bedding in preparation for the cold months ahead.
In August 2014 an incredible group of 53 volunteers repeated an adventure that started in 1998, selling vegetarian food at music festivals in Portugal: Andanças Festival and simultaneously at the Boom Festival. Funds were raised for the development of Ananda Kalyani Master Unit in Portugal, plus donations to other AMURT/AMURTEL social service projects around the world.
In the beautiful Danish countryside, 170 people attended the 2014 Global Prout Convention at Ananda Gaorii Master Unit, Vig, Denmark.
Jaya Brekke opened the conference, as she has for several years, with a report on the impact of austerity measures in Greece, Spain and the Ukraine and resistance movements to them, screening the documentary she made, Future Suspended. Dr. Ed McKenna, Professor of Economics at Connecticut College in USA, gave three inspiring classes: Spirituality and Finance, Causes of the Economic Crisis, and The Way Forward. A video about the movement Future Tasmania ended with a videoconference interview of Liila Hass. Dada Madhuvidyananda gave a talk about sadvipras and a class about the Prout political party he has started in Germany. Ramesh Bjonnes and Govinda gave classes about four interconnected crises: finance, inequality, resources and the environment. Satya Tanner organized duty co-ops and presented Organizing Effective Teams. Hiranmaya from USA gave a workshop on Integrating Prout with Local Food Movements. Divyajyoti presented The History and Potential of a Nordic Union. Frands Frydendal and Martin Wozniak gave workshops on Sociocratic Decision-Making and The Dragon Dreaming Method. Candela Vargas gave a workshop on non-violent communication.
The most inspiring part of the conference was amazing news reports about Prout work around the world. Dada Vandanananda gave news of 14 active samaj movements in India. Didi Ananda Devapriya and Diipanii told about the inspiring work they are doing with the European Roma Movement and the NGO community in Romania. The Prout Research Institute of Portugal and the PROUTugal Movement are doing great work. Other great news came from Prout work in Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy, UK, Ireland and Germany. Dada Maheshvarananda gave a workshop, Strategy Ideas for Implementing Prout and news about the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela.
This interview on Prout was shot at the conference:
Meanwhile, Prout Blocks are being established all around the world. This one in Manchester!
Prout presence at Bilderberg 2014:
Dada Maheshvarananda met President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland at Áras an
Uachtaráin, the president’s official residence, in Dublin on 12 February, after
President Higgins read Dada’s book After Capitalism and invited him to meet.
Here’s Dada’s account of the meeting:
The military attache who showed us into the beautiful historic reception
room set up with tea and coffee explained where I should stand and greet
the president when he entered. When Niall asked him how long the meeting
would last he said, “That completely depends on the president, but I would
expect between 10-20 minutes.” In fact the meeting lasted almost an hour.
The president had invited Ruairí McKiernan, a young social entrepreneur
and self-described community troublemaker who had organized the Dalai
Lama’s visit to Ireland, to attend. After the photos were taken, the
president asked the reception assistants to bring orange juice for me, and
his attache to bring in his Prout books. The copy of After Capitalism that
Niall had mailed him had several book markers.
He said, “I’ve marked up my copy a lot. I know Marcus Arruda who wrote the
preface. We met during the Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro when
I was minister for the environment. We made a documentary together.”
President Higgins repeated several times, “This book is remarkable. It
needs wide circulation.” He expressed his gratitude to “this wonderful
person, Niall,” who had sent it to him. He explained that he had tried to
find Niall’s telephone but it wasn’t listed, so I joked that he wasn’t as
“efficient” as the NSA. Then he suddenly asked Niall, “Why haven’t you
made this book available to the public?” The president then suggested
various publishers and trade union leaders that we should approach this
week while I am here in Ireland.
The president opened his copy of the book and read to us one paragraph:
“The International Monetary Fund in 2009 estimated the total value of the
world’s economy to be US$70.21 trillion. And yet the total world
derivatives market in the second half of 2009 has been estimated at about
US$615 trillion, more than eight times the size of the entire global
economy!” And now it is even more than that, he emphasized.
He felt the second Prout book that Niall had sent him, Principles of a
Balanced Economy by Roar Bjonnes, is also very good but it’s more a
handbook for cooperativists.
He talked about the discourse on language, how it has been subverted by
the neo-liberal agenda. He said that the media throughout Europe now talks
about “the tax burden” as though it should be avoided completely, not that
it is part of our social responsibility. He asked me, how to change the
discourse of institutions? How to get this into the discourse?
He recounted his experiences in Nicaragua and El Salvador with international
human rights delegations. He said he knew one woman who was killed. He later
stood with the woman’s grandmother at the Monument to Memory and Truth in
El Salvador that has the names of 47,000 people who lost their lives during the
Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992). Sadly, he said, the children who were
refugees always made drawings of helicopters.
He said at the World Economic Forum that takes place each year in Davos,
Switzerland, all the people “have ashes in their mouths.” The politicians
keep going, but they keep mouthing the same thing because they haven’t got
I gave President Higgins a copy of Notes and Recommendations on the Irish
Economy by the Institute for New Economic Futures (INEF). I explained
that seven Proutist economists in different countries had contributed to
this 13-page proposal on how to make Ireland more self-reliant and resilient
to global financial crises. That 400,000 Irish, mostly young people, have left
the country since the 2008 crisis looking for work in other countries is a tragedy.
He feels there is a great misunderstanding in Europe about Latin America.
He talked about the different religions that depend on “the book” and
about the fatalism of India. I agreed that there are dogmas in both the
West and the East that are dogmatic and divisive, and how spirituality, on
the other hand, is all-inclusive.
He was very impressed about Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar and said, “Anyone who
can fast for five years on only two cups of yoghurt a day must be very
After a pleasant hour of charming conversation, President Higgins graciously
apologized for taking so much of my time. When we said farewell, he embraced
Also in Ireland, the Sunrise Farm has turned into a hive of activity:
Download Suryaprabha, the newsletter of Ananda Marga in Spain and Morocco.
Didi Ananda Devapriya was interviewed recently for the second time on TV6 Romania, on a spiritual talk show called Dialogues Between the Mind and Heart. The interview went into some depth about kiirtan and the importance of opening the heart with devotion.
The Sunrise kindergartens have been enjoying increasing enrollments and a lengthening waiting list, a welcome relief after several years of tight times.
We also have added new members into our teaching team, and this year they went through a well structured professional development program in Neohumanist Education in 4 saturday sessions. The Neohumanist Education Curriculum that our team has been working on for the past two years served as a basis for the training, and have helped to improve the integration of new members into the team, providing more clarity about the methodology and approach. Our Neohumanist Early Childhood Education Curriculum underwent a rigorous review and revision process with the help of a committee formed by Gurukul, and has at last received their endorsement. The Romanian version has just finished revision in July and we plan to submit it by the end of the month at the Ministry of Education for another review, in the process of accreditation as a national educational alternative.
The program this year was diverse and creative in both kindergartens. In both locations, we invited our friends from the Fire Department, who came in fire fighter gear and taught the kids about fire safety. In the Mihai Bravu Kindergarten, the children celebrated world cultures by focusing on Egypt – and an Egyptian ambassador came to the kindergarten, presenting the children with papyrus scrolls and showing slides of his country. In Bucuresti Noi, the children had a Spanish fiesta, with costumes and lots of dancing! Our yearly theme of “Many faces, one human heart” about human diversity included a visit from Marius – a young man with cerebral palsy who attended the kindergarten when he was little, and Diipani, AMURTEL’s Executive Director who is of Roma ethnicity. The kindergarten’s approach to overcoming stereotypes is to form warm friendships with people from minority groups. In Bucuresti Noi, a total of 7 socially disadvantaged children attended the kindergarten through a partnership with the Department of Social Services. It was a chance to make a difference in the lives of these small children, and the parents also benefited from guidance and support from our staff. This is another facet of our inclusive education program, in addition to the inclusion of 3 special needs children in Mihai Bravu kindergarten.
There were also several special excursions organized – one of the highlights was a trip to a traditional village of pottery makers, where the children got a chance to work on pottery wheels and play with clay. We also went to visit a Salt Mine, deep under the earth with salty high vaulted walls, giving the impression of a massive cathedral, and tiny flecks of salt filling the air. Salt Mines are considered a therapeutic treatment, and a general health tonic, especially for children that tend to get colds – so many of the parents were happy that we organized this trip. It was an extremely hot day, but deep underground, the temperature was cool enough that we had to dress in warm jackets and hats! That day ended with a picnic outdoors alongside a salt lake and playing on inflatable slides and a trampolene.
In Bucuresti Noi, the end of the year programs were affected by an outbreak of chicken pox, but luckily most of the children were able to participate in the annual theater performance of Cinderella. In Mihai Bravu, the children performed a version of a famous Romanian story “Veronica”, similar to Alice in Wonderland. The “Ladybugs” family of smaller children performed a story about an apple tree.
The school year concluded with a very special event – an overnight pyjama party! The day began with our annual much-loved excursion to go horseriding. We returned to the kindergarten after a picnic lunch, and the children had a nap….Then they helped make pizzas – each child got to decorate their own pizza according to their imagination! They also helped decorate the courtyard with lots of balloons and streamers, and then we had a dance party – with musical chairs and other games – including apple bobbing! After dinner, Didi played her flute to help the children settle down, and then we had an open-air movie theater, complete with popcorn and icecream, and lit sparklers in the courtyard for a grand finale! It was exciting for the children to sleep in their familiar naptime beds overnight – so it took some time for all eyes to close, even after such a long and fun day! The next day, the fun continued with a pinata and splashing in the pool! Our dedicated teachers were quite exhausted after such a long 2 days – but everyone was very satisfied and happy with the memorable experience that the children had!
Fountain of Hope needs more sponsorships
Fountain of Hope is very full this year with 42 children enrolled. Buzau county, where Panatau is located, suffered from such an extreme winter this year that it made international news, showing houses literally buried under the snow with army helicopters sent in to dig people out. While the hilliness of Panatau protected it from the more extreme snow drifts, but the temperatures were very severe and many of our pipes broke and we still haven’t had enough money to repair everything. I also have had little time to dedicate to fundraising for this project, except for donations received when travelling, and as a result we have just about run out of money. So it is time to request your help to sponsor the project so we can keep it going. A yearly sponsorship for one child is 220 euros and it is easy to donate online in a few clicks.
Since its inception in 1995, Gradinita Rasarit “Sunrise Kindergarten” in Bucharest has been pioneering inclusive education in Romania, not only integrating special needs children within a the kindergarten setting, but also giving special attention to adapting the program itself to be accessible and welcoming for all. Neohumanist Education celebrates diversity and works to individualize the program to respond to the specific needs of the children.