Peramgak Zeliang, 16, a tenth standard student, was born in the North-East of India, a land where sports rules the heart and is the gateway to many aspirations. However, for many children, like Peramgak, aspirations often meet a brutal end. Their families are either incapable of supporting them, and these kids become victims of abuse, assault, and child trafficking. Many families in these areas fall prey to violence, which leaves these children orphaned.

The Art of Living, through its volunteers, has been giving a new lease of life to a number of such children since 2010. These children are not only given free education at our Ved Vigyan Maha Vidya Peeth (VVMVP) school in south Bengaluru but are also provided a home at The Art of Living International Center.

A beginning

To give this vision a boost, VVMVP joined hands with the telecom giant, Tata Communications in 2014. Our aim was to facilitate these children in achieving higher learning outcomes through ICT (information and communication technology) and using sports as an intervention.

Through The Art of Living programs, the children are also taught tools such as yoga, pranayama, and meditation which enable them:

  • overcome their past experiences of violence or violation
  • gain sharper concentration, confidence, and focus 
  • become healthier and gain more positive attitudes


But there were some initial hiccups we had to overcome.  Language barrier was a significant issue as our VVMVP classrooms are highly diverse and multicultural; students come from different linguistic backgrounds, making easy communication a problem. Moreover, our school is located on the city outskirts, so most trainers were unwilling to undertake the long commute and demanded a hefty pay to come on board.  Additionally, frequent power cuts made it challenging to use the smart boards.

The will shows the way

Overcoming these challenges, Tata Communications and VVMVP have since partnered in several milestones: 

However, the biggest game changer was the setup of the sports ground. Once the ground was available, the children started practicing under a trainer. It didn’t take much time for 35 of these students to be identified for their exceptional talent, passion, and dedication towards football.

Arie Bax, an Art of Living volunteer from the Netherlands and one of their proud guardians, chuckles, “Previously, when you asked them to get up early for studies, they would behave like any other children. But for football, they are up at 4:30 am so that they can practice before they head to school.” Arie is astounded at the transformation he has seen in the boys over the last year. They are more focused, joyful, responsible, and are excelling in what they do.

Sweet goals

In the latter half of 2018, the boys have participated in several sports tournaments across the country and returned victoriously. In August 2018, the Reliance group conducted the ‘All India Sports Competition’. Both the VVMVP sports teams (junior and senior) participated in the competition and performed very well.

An overall of 238 students participated in various sports competitions at the taluka, district and state levels. Of them, 78 have won awards in athletics and football.

Meanwhile, 15-year-old Gulu who came to VVMVP from Assam and aspires to join the India Army is looking forward to his next tournament in Mumbai. This time those self-stitched, patchworked shoes would not accompany him and his friends. Tata Communication has taken responsibility to sponsor their football kits for the next year.

Life will never again run out of hope for kids like Peramgak, Gulu, and their friends.