On 12th May 2008, the northern region of the Sichuan Province of China was struck by a catastrophic earthquake, the worst natural disaster in its history. The earthquake left nearly 70,000 dead and over 350,000 injured. The loss of loved ones, homes and infrastructure caused complete breakdown and was challenging both for victims and relief volunteers.
Disaster relief efforts
An international team of Art of Living teachers and volunteers provided immediate support by assisting in the search and rescue operations. Simultaneously, other members of the team began trauma relief workshops for survivors and relief volunteers, reaching out to over 2000 people. A trauma relief drop-in center was established for volunteers of the Communist Youth League, the coordinating agency for the search and recovery of victims. Through the Art of Living workshops, relief volunteers could release trauma caused by the devastation and gained the strength to resume day-to-day life.
“When people, especially caregivers such as parents, rescue, and relief volunteers are in trauma, how can they adequately attend to others in need? The most disturbing consequence is that children suffer the most. When children have cried all that they can and are unable to express themselves further, where else can they turn to for emotional support and affection?” – Sichuan Art of Living Trauma Relief Mission Team Leader.
Following this, 90 psychology students at Sichuan University were trained to become facilitators of the Art of Living workshops.