In yet another story of bringing peace to people traumatized by war and conflicts, the Art of Living has made it possible for the citizens of the Republic of Chad, a central African country, to experience true peace of mind. Since March 2010, it has conducted several special workshops for the general public, staff of UNFPA (United Nations Populations Fund) and for Mongolian and Nepalese military working for UN’s peace keeping mission, MINURCAT.
The Art of Living has reached out to various vulnerable towns such as Goz Beida, Abeche, near the Sudan border and the capital city of N’djamena, braving red dust storms and extreme weather conditions. A noting from the diary of Hiteshini Juggessur, the Art of Living instructor, bears testimony to Art of Living’s commitment to making Chadians smile again. “Imagine red fog and not being able to see more than 10 meters ahead of you. I woke up to a strange reddish light outside; it was not even fog but dust! And it just lingers for a week or so at this time of the year. People are walking with their noses and mouths covered. This means no laundry for a while as everything you wash instantly gets covered in red dust the moment you hang it outside and white cloths turn pink! A course is going on at the moment”.
The Art of Living teacher and volunteers faced challenges of extreme weather conditions with maximum temperatures of 52°C and red dust storms. These outer conditions, although tough, strengthened the volunteers’ resolve to reach out to people, offer comfort and carry Sri Sri’s message of peace. “Last night, I gave an introductory talk to a group of 20 people, in the yard of a traditional mud-hut. There was no electricity, so we were seated in a circle on a carpet, on the sandy ground outside the home, under the stars, with one flashlight. We practiced breath techniques there, in the open. It's mind blowing,” shares Hiteshini.
And their committed efforts are beginning to show the worth. “This has been a very enlightening experience. I feel there is more that I can achieve. I have a responsibility to make a difference in my existence. I can overcome the barriers of stress and worry to achieve happiness and contentment,” said a participant after taking the course. Lauding the initiative, Mr Jean Wabo, the training officer in MINURCAT, commented, “We wish for these courses to be made available to our staff on an ongoing basis, particularly to equip them to withstand the high stress environment in MINURCAT. It will not only enable them to improve their physical and mental health, but also increase the harmony in the workplace.”
Encouraged by the response, The Art of Living is taking its programs to different sections of society. In February 2011, it conducted a special workshop for the staff and the foster mothers of the SOS Village children’s orphanage. Its volunteers also visited one of UNICEF's (United Nations Children's Fund) transit homes and brought fun and joy to many child soldiers who are being protected and rehabilitated.
With a view to expand its outreach, its volunteers have made presentations about its trauma-relief work in various ministries, including the ministry of youth, sports and culture and the ministry of social services. The Art of Living envisions a strong partnership with the Chadian government in order to offer many programs and workshops throughout the country, including specialized courses for schools, military and the large number of refugees.
“This is only the beginning. We have so much to do in Chad. We have just begun to scratch the surface,” says Hiteshini.