67 minutes of service

On Mandela day, The Art of Living family in Africa and Singapore remembered Madiba’s contribution to humanity

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar often says only a lit candle can light others. The life and times of Nelson Mandela have served as an exemplary example to the rest of the world: a light of service, compassion and leadership.

To commemorate this light, The Art of Living family in South Africa celebrated Nelson Mandela Day. As Madiba turned 93 on July 18th, people around the world lit the lives fellow human beings through gestures of service and compassion. 67 minutes of service, to honor the 67 years Nelson Mandela served humanity.

Trails of service

“Even though we gave out material objects to ensure warmth during winter, the children were more in need of human contact and love. They wanted to be held and played with. However as with all children, receiving any gift, brought smile to their faces, and joy in their hearts,” shared one volunteer who distributed gifts to 90 children at the Jerusalem Home, Gauteng Province, South Africa. What really mattered to these abandoned, traumatized and abused children was the love, affection and attention they got from the volunteers. Stretching their 67 minutes, volunteers decided to regularly teach yoga to the children in the Jerusalem Home.

Demonstrating Art of Living’s motto of ‘Making Life a Celebration’, volunteers at the Phoenix settlement in Durban, South Africa led a program of music, dance and breathing techniques. The laughter and cheer from the settlement’s women and children expressed the unanimous verdict: an absolute feeling of relaxation, peace and happiness.

“It was a very fulfilling and joyful experience to share the contribution of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar towards humanity,” expressed Latha Ramkisson, an Art of Living volunteer.

Nelson Mandela honored at The World Culture Festival

During The World Culture Festival,which celebrated 30 years of The Art of Living’s service to humanity,four pavilions representing different continents of the world were arranged on2 & 3 July. As a prelude to the Nelson Mandela International Day,the African Pavilion showcased his legacy,highlighting ways to change our world for the better and drawing attention to what people can do on 18th July and not just for one day but to make every day a Mandela Day,one small step at a time, just as Nelson Mandela did. A book of gratitude was compiled, in which people expressed their gratitude to him in their native language. Dr.Ahmed Kathrada represented the Nelson Mandela Foundation at the festivaland received on its behalf, The Art of Living award for contribution to humanity.

At the Laudium Restoration Center in Pretoria, South Africa, volunteers painted, packed and assisted in organizing a new home for the twenty-odd youngsters, undergoing drug abuse rehabilitation. Anand Makan, a volunteer shared: “It's encouraging to see youth recognizing they have an addiction and need help. These youth are often looked upon by the community as ‘not my problem’. The center was opened by a Pastor, with youth from varied backgrounds and has welcomed The Art of Living Foundation with open arms. The Art of Living volunteers are committed and dedicated to serving the 'Laudium Restoration Center': to actively and constructively help these youth overcome their addiction with the techniques taught in the ‘Breath Water Sound' courses. These techniques together with formal rehabilitation processes assist the youth to live better, productive and constructive lives.”

Envisioning a peaceful solution for Egypt

While South African volunteers went to homes and settlements, The Art of Living family in Egypt spoke to youth and activists about a peaceful Egypt. The 67 minutes ended with a meditation and a resolve to find a solution for the country’s crisis.

Shares Shirish Soni, an Art of Living Volunteer. “We’ll be talking to Dr. Ahmed Kathrada, a lifelong freedom fighter and friend of Mandela's, as well as the Deputy Minister. This will give us clarity in shaping our responses towards finding a peaceful solution to the political crisis in Egypt.” Inspired by their counterparts in Africa, volunteers in Singapore came out in full strength to show their commitment to service on Mandela Day. The Punggol Park witnessed many Art of Living volunteers participating in a tree plantation drive and six senior citizens’ houses in the Henderson’s Community were freshly painted by the volunteers.