SELF RELIANCE EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT
In the aftermath of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, India’s coastal communities found that the aquatic creatures —upon which they relied so heavily for sustenance—had been entirely disrupted. As with so many of their needs, hopes and sorrows, they brought this crisis to Amma. It was then that Amma, who recognized an urgent need for an alternate livelihood for every family in the tsunami-affected areas, launched the Ashram’s first community-based self-help programmes. It was Amma’s firm resolve that at least one member in each family engage in a profession that was not reliant upon increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. To that end, Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) facilitated training in the following vocations:
- Tailoring: MAM established nine tailoring schools and distributed 2,000 sewing machines—one to every to every program participant.
- Nursing: 450 women were provided free training in nursing assistance along with a stipend to study at AIMS (Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences—MAM’s super-specialty charitable hospital).
- Driving: 500 youths received free driving lessons and received driver’s licenses to facilitate employ-ment as professional bus, truck and taxi drivers.
- Education: Seven eligible women received full scholarships to attend Amrita University Mysore’s School of Education and earned Master’s degrees in Education.
- Handicrafts: 1,500 women trained in making coir (coconut fiber) and coir-based products and over 150 women trained in handloom weaving.
- Electronic Repair: 200 youths trained in niche trades including mobile phone and TV/VCR repair; plumbing; fashion design and handmade bag production.
PROACTIVE SOLUTIONS TO COMBAT FARMER SUICIDE
In recent years, suicide has spread like an epidemic amongst farmers in In-dia suffering from financial debt, rising costs of cultivation, and crop failure. Overwhelmed by their inability to support their families, over 100,000 of In-dia’s farmers have taken their own lives over the last 10 years. Often, entire families commit suicide together. In 2006 in the Vidarbha region of Maharash-tra, there were 1,044 reported suicides—one every eight hours. After Amma held discussions on the issue with Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, MAM launched a multi-pronged aid project to help farmers and their families in distress. One part of this initiative is a massive extension of the Amrita Sree self-help programme, to ultimately reach 300,000 women from families affected by the crisis across the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.