Guided by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Art of Living has adopted a multi-faceted approach to bringing relief to those affected by disasters. While bringing material relief for immediate medical and food crises is the priority, the Art of Living also recognizes that rehabilitation in the true sense only happens when trauma is dealt with on an emotional level too. The Art of Living has therefore developed the following three-tiered approach which includes:
- immediate response with the provision of material aid
- short-term trauma relief programs to help victims deal with any emotional trauma
- long-term rehabilitation of the community, including the rebuilding of infrastructure
Immediate material aid and service
Due to its vast network of volunteers, The Art of Living can provide immediate material relief, i.e., food, clothing, medicine, and shelter. Doctors, counselors and other physical and mental health experts form an integral part of these immediate relief efforts.
Specially designed trauma relief workshops help participants to release emotional and mental trauma and equip them with skills to remain stress-free. These workshops include simple, practical breathing techniques proven to have an immediate calming effect on the mind. A study on the Art of Living’s Trauma Relief Programs which were delivered to large groups of South-East Asian tsunami survivors showed significant relief from post-traumatic stress disorder, including symptoms such as disturbed sleep and depression, in only four days.
A sense of community spirit is also developed in the workshops. Once the participants feel better, they naturally want to reach out to others to reconstruct their lives and support each other. For example, after the tsunami in 2004, initial material relief was provided in the form of boats, but due to the trauma experienced by the fishermen, they were afraid to approach the sea. After undergoing the trauma relief workshops, the fishermen were able to utilize the boats, resume fishing and provide for their families.
While aid is available in the short term, the Art of Living believes that true relief can only happen when people have a sustainable future. To achieve this, we work with local volunteers and communities in villages, building homes, sanitation systems, roads, schools, vocational training centers and other necessary infrastructure.