In the remote villages of Odisha, there are some schools up to middle school level which are paid by the government. The schools are often badly maintained, the teachers are either notably absent or there are never enough of them to form a complete team. The small number of teachers is most notable in the remote regions.
Another problem is the culture of violence lived out in these regions, either within the family or because of ethnicity (caste system), religion, terrorism and poverty. Because there are no colleges for young people, the SFDC decided in 2003 to found the Karuna Shanti Residental Ashram in Golenthera, Odisha...
…At this college, students are given lessons in all important subjects such as mathematics, physics, biology and English…
By enrolling for this school, the students commit to financially assuring another child’s place at the Karuna Shanti Residental College after they will have finished their own studies and earn money.
The students are not only given lessons in school subjects, but also in meditation. Every day, they meditate for one hour in order to become peaceful human beings. The SFDC members remind them of their mission as peace workers by referring to them as “Human Harmonisers”. The students are asked to bring peace to the violent world of their villages and to set a good example.
To give the students the opportunity to talk about the advantages of a peaceful communal life in their home villages, Hope is life teaches non-violent communication according to Marshall B. Rosenberg at the Karuna Shanti Residental College. This model enables young people to support the cause of peace effectively. They can use the tool to settle differences in their own families and/or other families in their village and to find constructive solutions.
Hope is life has set up an education plan according to which local teachers can now give lessons in non-violent communication for 45 minutes a day all year. First, students do a workshop for beginners with the help of Hope is life or another coach of non-violent communication. The first class of students who learned to practice non-violent communication for several months already left the college. These youths are now continuing their studies at other schools or have returned to their home villages and their families.
The students’ interest in the subject and their progress in non-violent communication lead Hope is life to plan further training together with some of the students in order to learn how to practice non-violent communication. This group of interested youths calls itself the “Little giraffe group Odisha”.
1. Defusing situations of violence and taking action against violence
Knowledge and coaching in non-violent communication enable the students to defuse situations of violence and to take action against violence.
2. Recognising and realising the equality of women and men
Through non-violent communication, it becomes clear to the students that women have needs too, just as they have the right to satisfy them. When they become aware of the fact that women have the same feelings and needs as men, the youths also realise that both sexes are equal. The exercises in non-violent communication are intended to allow boys and girls to approach each other in a positive way.
3. Recognising own feelings and needs
The students get to know themselves better and can therefore strengthen their character to be prepared for the challenges awaiting them after college.
4. Making permanence possible
Hope is life offers the students a platform to give them the chance to network and attend further workshops also after college. Like this, the youths can improve their competences and use them to introduce the subject of non-violent communication to their families, the other villagers and their fellow students.