The Candid Eye

December 29, 2009

Art of Living ‘transforms’ juvenile delinquents

A group of volunteers of a spiritual organisation founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Art of Living, has succeeded in transforming the juvenile delinquents at the Boys’ Observation Home in Shivajinagar, Pune.

Though the NGO had organised its Bal Chetna and Nav Chetna courses for these children earlier, they did not have much impact. “Merely conducting the workshops was not enough. We then decided to start daily follow-ups, as suggested by the authorities,” said Nitin Pradhan, a coordinator of the group.

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar

“These children used to have violent fights, and at least 3-4 boys would escape from the home each month. They were always on the lookout for an opportunity to run away,” said MN Sonawane, superintendent of the observation home.

The results started becoming apparent four months ago when the teenagers, 46 of them, attended the Nav Chetna course. They were taught ramdhyan, pranayam and satsang. “Earlier, it was impossible to control these children. They used to become restless and would constantly fight among themselves. But we worked hard for two months. Their warden, who used to stand in the hall with a cane in her hand, did not require it after a couple of weeks,” said Pradhan.

Such has been the transformation that the children now look forward to the daily dhyan and satsang. “The running away stopped completely in October. They have become quieter and observe the daily routine with discipline. They have developed a bond with the volunteers as they feel cared for. The effectiveness of these workshops will be further proved once we rehabilitate them back into the society. We conduct various short-term courses like candle, paper bag, and chalk-making for them. One volunteer suggested that they should be trained as plumbers and electricians. We are considering the suggestion,” said Sonawane.

Their rehabilitation of these kids is essential because they tend to fall back into bad company. They also involve other youngsters from their area in criminal activities. This will stop if they start earning and realising the benefits of a positive way of life, Sonawane said. The observation home is now in talks with another NGO, which imparts vocational training for free to children from weaker sections of society.

Encouraged by the results, the Yerawada Boys’ Observation Home, which was in the news recently as the children had escaped in hordes from there, has also invited the AOL volunteers to conduct these courses at their home.

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