The Art of Living has adopted a multi-faceted approach to bringing comfort to those affected by disasters. With its worldwide network of volunteers, the organization is often able to respond swiftly to disasters anywhere in the world.
“Unless the trauma is released, food and medicines will not work. People cannot eat or sleep because their mind is full of the terrible tragedy that has befallen them. With a healing touch, support, and a vision for the future, disaster victims are able to reclaim their lives.”
- Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
While bringing material relief for immediate medical and food crises is the first priority, The Art of Living also recognizes that complete rehabilitation only happens when the trauma is dealt with at an emotional level.
The Art of Living Disaster Relief hence follows a 3-tier approach:
- Immediate: Includes the provision of material aid and supply of necessities like food, clothes, medicines, and temporary shelter. Doctors, counselors, and physical relief workers are typically part of the effort.
- Short Term: Trauma-relief programs to help victims deal with any emotional stress. These are breath-based, practical techniques that have been proven to calm the mind, enhance sleep, and eliminate depression.
- Mid to Long Term: True relief can only happen when people have a sustainable future. Volunteers work with local communities, building homes, sanitation systems, roads, schools, vocational training centers, and other necessary infrastructure.
Featured Disaster Relief Projects
On 26 December, 2004, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale shook the western coast of Northern Sumatra. The earthquake spawned a series of tsunamis that travelled across the Indian Ocean from Indonesia to Africa’s Eastern Coast, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.
- Within hours of the disaster, more than 500 volunteers swung into action, distributing food, clothes, medicines, and other relief material from India
- 250 tons of relief supplies and 100,000 liters of drinking water were sent to Sri Lanka
- Medical camps were organized to deal with post-disaster ailments
- In Southern India, over 50,000 people benefited from the trauma-relief programs
- The Collectorate of Nagapattinam recognized The Art of Living as the official NGO conducting trauma-relief programs
- In Sri Lanka, hundreds of trauma-relief programs and counseling sessions were conducted, providing relief to more than 25,000 people in over 20 cities of the country.
Mid to Long Term
- Vocational training centers were set up to build skills for alternative livelihoods
- The Sri Sri Vidya Mandir Matriculation School started in 2007 at the Anaikoil village, Tarangambadi Taluk, Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu, from pre-primary to class 10 with over 600 students
- One orphanage-cum-school is operational in Sri Lanka
- 104 houses were completed in the Periamanikapangu village of Tharangambadi, in north Nagapattinam
- Residents constructed 10 houses in Kallimedu village, Nagapattinam, bringing a sense of self-worth among the villagers
The Art of Living has done similar work in many other areas struck by disaster:
- Sichuan Earthquake (May 2008)
- Kashmir-Pakistan Earthquake (Oct 2005)
- Gujarat Earthquake, India (Jan 2001)
- Bihar, India (Sept 2008)
- Mumbai, India (July 2005)
- Flood Relief in Eastern India (2008)
- Surat floods, India (Aug 2006)
- Hurricane Katrina, USA (Aug 2005)
- Tsunami (Dec 2004)
- Bam earthquake, Iran (Dec 2003)
- Jakarta floods, Indonesia (Jan 2002 and Feb 2007)
- River Elbe floods, Germany (Aug 2002)
- Orissa cyclone, India (Oct 1999)
Featured Rural Transformation Service Projects
360 million people in India i.e. roughly 40 percent of rural households do not have access to electricity. A majority of these people rely on kerosene and other fuels to meet their lighting needs, which is hazardous to both their health and to the environment. Every year 2.2 million litres of kerosene is burned for lighting, emitting approximately 5.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Traditional fuel combustion, the primary source of indoor air pollution, causes between 300,000-400,000 deaths per year in India alone.
Initiated in 2012, The Art of Living’s vision to ‘Light a Million Homes’ is an on-going campaign inspiring individuals and corporate partners to work with us to bring clean and affordable lighting solutions to un-electrified homes and villages in India and in Nepal.
The Light a Home follows an integrated approach that combines multiple elements of rural transformation including building rural entrepreneurs. While there is still a journey to be completed, smiles are already lighting up thousands of faces as they begin to experience the benefits of this project.
- Assam: India’s largest solar battery charging station launched to power 287 houses on a remote island in Dibrugarh, Assam in December 2016. With women heading the implementation, the portable solution has been installed on a sandy island.
- Arunachal Pradesh: 33 homes light up in the remote regions
- Jammu & Kashmir: Two schools fully electrified after the 2014 floods
- Tamil Nadu: A remote tribal settlement of Kodamban Kombai in the Nilgiri forest was electrified for the first time
- Karnataka: Three remote villages on the border of Karnataka and Goa got electricity for the first time in their history
- Maharashtra: Solar lamps provide portable electricity to nomadic laborers who are migrants and travel from place to place