Francisco Moreno Ocampo, a full-time Art of Living teacher from Argentina, who is now based out of Venezuela: a country he knew nothing about up until 2008. That’s when he had a brief chat with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar about going to Venezuela. Shares Francisco, “I was the first teacher to go there in a long time and even I didn’t know anyone, but I had the confidence that everything will work out well. And one of the first things I did was I asked people for the most popular magazine in Venezuela and phoned one of the journalist’s who wrote for it. I told him about The Art of Living and the work we are doing all over the world. And before I knew it, he was attending a course that I organized and soon after, he wrote a five-page article about the course because it was so good for him.”
That one article got Francisco queries from more than 500 people in two days and as a result, more than 100 people signed up for the next course. “From that point on, one thing led to the other and the courses started to grow and the people started to blossom in a very magical way,” smiles Francisco, leaning back in his chair over a skype call, amidst phone calls, effortlessly switching from Spanish to English and back.
70 percent of the population in Venezuela is below poverty line, “Which made it necessary for us to organize breath-water-sound workshops, giving them a chance to experience spirituality. And things have just happened miraculously – courses, intro talks and satsangs for hundreds of people in the middle of the city, who know nothing about bhajans, chanting or singing in Sanskrit,” shares 33-year-old Francisco, who studied Economics in University and worked in a media company, publishing houses and set up a real estate business before becoming an Art of Living teacher.
Initially, when Francisco came to Venezuela, “I didn’t know where I was going to stay; who I was going to meet… every day was a new adventure. After almost three years, now there are more than 1,500 people who have taken the course, there are Venezuelan teachers, a beautiful center and many people willing to share this amazing knowledge with others,” smiles Francisco, whose biggest inspiration to do seva (voluntary service) has been Sri Sri.
Today, “My day starts at 5.30 am because there are volunteers and other devotees who come to my place in Venezuela to listen to knowledge tapes. Else, we do sadhana (meditation) from six to eight in the morning, after which I take the course from nine to 11.30. And after the course, I work on the development of the Foundation in Venezuela (volunteers, press, pr and organizing events). In the evening, I take my second course (yes, they have two ongoing courses at the same time). And these days, we are working on our trip to Berlin as there are 50 of us going there from Venezuela. In fact, I am encouraging all my students to go to Berlin because the energy will be very different as thousands will meditate together for peace and love. And that’s what everything is about isn’t it? It’s all about the energy and Guruji’s presence allows that energy to blossom.”