Maharashtra: Sharad, a resident of Jalna village, could study only up to matriculation. Though he enrolled for the ITI program, he had to discontinue. He shifted to his brother’s place but soon fell in bad company and got addicted to alcohol and tobacco. His life became worthless and aimless. His near and dear ones lost all hopes of his recovery and a bright future.
Sharad turned over a new leaf after his sister made him to join YLTP (Youth Leadership Training Program), an Art of Living program. Initially, he was reluctant to go there but he soon felt comfortable among many others like him. By the end of the program, he realized that some change had come over him and realized that someone was there to take care of him.
After completing the program, he became actively involved in service activities at the Bangalore Ashram. He served in various departments like transportation, kitchen, and light and sound for four years. These four years transformed him completely and he gave up his addictions after realizing that he was capable of uplifting others.
Sharad was sent to Vidarbha, Maharashtra, where farmers were committing suicide due to failure of crops and heavy loans. He worked very hard for two years and taught at more than 300 Nav Chetna Shibirs (free programs for villagers). These programs strengthened the villagers emotionally and spiritually to deal with any situation and the number of suicides came down in these areas.
Sharad’s tireless efforts were rewarded when Sri Sri honored him at a public event in Yavatmal. This honor uplifted him and motivated him to work even more. He became an Art of Living teacher in 2010.
Since then, he has taught more than 2000 youngsters in different areas of Marathwada, Maharashtra. The motivated youths are in turn doing a remarkable job in various places. Villages like Thokale in Beed district were awarded the Nirmal Gram Puraskar, and the Thokale School became an Aadarsh (Ideal) School. About 70 percent of the population here has been trained under Happiness programs and 60 Yuvacharyas are actively working to transform the area.
A team of more than 50 volunteers is striving to make the panchayat free of drugs and chemicals. A workshop on chemical-free farming was conducted, after which 15 farmers subsequently adopted organic cultivation.
Reported by Anil Tupe.