Letter from Swami Satvikananda following her visit to the Foundation in October 2013

This year, 2013, found me visiting Alwar in early October rather than my usual late November early December. I left England with a fellow Yoga Teacher and ‘Towards Nirvana’ supporter on the 10th October arriving in Delhi on the 11th and Alwar on the 12th. Because of the Cyclone hitting Eastern Indian head on we arrived in torrential rain. It never ceases to amaze me that you can drive through water in India that is two and a half to three feet deep, continuously, without any adverse side effects to the cars, when everything quite often comes to a standstill in England, when there are a few deep puddles to drive through!  By the time we reached Alwar the weather had become very warm and sunny so we were able to visit the schools keeping dry from above whilst jumping over various rather large puddles!!

It is always good to meet up with Nirvana to find out firsthand what is happening. I can personally assure all our supporters that none of the money that we send to India is wasted in any way, either in administration costs or by being misspent. All is spent wisely and with thought and every penny and pound sent is vitally needed.

My first visit was to our flagship school – Advaita Garden. This school has eight classes and serves three local villages. The children are all well and happy and there has been quite a bit of change within the teaching staff since I visited in December 2012. The result of this is that the classes are running even more smoothly than before. As we are able to pay our teachers a little better than before the calibre of the teachers that we are able to attract now is more professional and experienced.

However we cannot lose sight of the fact that our teachers also need to have commitment to the cause and a degree of altruism to stay on the staff.

 

Government teachers who often have a much easier time of it, and usually in better conditions, are far better paid than we can afford to pay ours. This does mean that we cannot always keep teachers, who with the best will in the world often do need to make more money than we can offer, to keep their own families clothed and fed.

A new venture this year is that of ‘a children’s village’ at Advaita Garden. Something that Nirvana has been anxious to do for some years. Still having no money to really do this, and no buildings to do it in, this ‘village’ has actually evolved rather than has been started. There are eight or nine young boys who have nowhere else to live and nowhere else to go, who just stay there now, sleeping in one of the classrooms over night. It would be wonderful if we could raise the money to help develop this ‘village’ properly and to extend it to other children in desperate need – both boys and girls.

 

   

The difference this care makes to their young lives is beyond words. Not only are they safe, they are clothed, fed and sheltered and they experience love and care where before there was only doubt, disappointment and low self worth.

I also visited a couple of schools in the Nat and Kanjer villages. Many of the mothers in these areas are prostitutes in the hot spots of Mumbai and Dubai, for eight or nine months of the year, and without The Nirvanavan Foundation the children often remain uneducated and alone. It is hoped that by educating the children it is opening the doors to alternative education opportunities in the future. The children are always so anxious to learn and the contrast to many children in the west who take their education lightly and often dismissively is palpable.

 

These children do not have all the tools to make education easy and have to really work hard to succeed. One thing that all the children in all the ‘Nirvanavan Foundation’ schools seem to have in common is that they are excellent at Art. This is so valuable because often children who are inhibited or frightened to discuss their doubts can release their negative experiences within their art work.

Another commitment of ‘Towards Nirvana’ is running the local Childline Helpline for the children in need of help and support, so my next port of call was there. I met a very lonely and sad little boy who had been separated from his family in a local festival. He was frightened and very quietly desperate. He said very little and if this local Childline office had not been there for him there would have been nowhere for him to go and no one for him to turn to. There is a happy end to this story when within 48 hours he was re-united with his equally desperate parents.

So I am pleased to report all is well. Nirvana is still a kindly and supremely efficient helmsman guiding young people into a better life. The children are healthy, happy and enthusiastically responsive to this help. The teachers, both new and long standing, are firm, supportive and always there to encourage and help the children. The Childline staff are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with compassion, empathy and determination to not let any child be abused or be lonely, frightened and friendless. The Children’s Village is hopefully gathering momentum. The buildings are still standing. But more money is needed for this worthwhile cause. You have all been so wonderful with your regular monthly donations and the fund raising ideas have been ingenuous this year, but can I ask you to do one more thing?  Can you talk about us a bit more to friends and family and even to strangers - please!  A wonderful man gave me £10.00 for the cause when I engaged him in conversation at Heathrow Airport on my way out to India in October!  Remember all your money does go to ‘Towards Nirvana’. There are no high administration costs, or Trustee or Committee Members, and the like, taking fees or even expenses. We do it because we believe in it. We do it because we can see the difference it makes to these children’s lives. Remember every penny really does make a difference in these very poor areas of India and every pound more so. I know that for a lot of people life is financially difficult at the moment but please continue to be our supporter because we really need you now - even more than ever before. Thank you for your help and support.