In March this year, Jeevika Trust – with the help of Department for International Development – took its five partner organisations to Auroville, an architecturally-designed township located near Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu in South India.
Founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (also known as ‘The Mother’) – and Sri Aurobindo, an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru and poet – Auroville was built to embody their vision of human progress and spiritual evolution:
Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.
Auroville has been created and inspired by the residence of many NGOs and other wholistic and globally-minded organisations which reside within the Auroville township and whose prime concern is to make the world a better place. All these organisations undertake research, experiments and apply their new-found technologies and knowledge using local resources with the aim of challenging and advancing progress in rural India.
What did we learn?
Jeevika’s partners visited organisations that used bamboo to produce anything from jewellery to buildings; that research fresh ways of using water systems to grow crops when water is limited; others produced earth blocks from moulds to build cost-effective, water-resistant schools, moveable houses and apartments up to four floors high with zero energy and without cement ; worked with volunteers to grow and generate awareness of sustainable food production; or worked with women, men and children using art therapy to empower individuals, cross-cultural, group & community relationships.
Capturing the learning
Back in their own project delivery areas, our partners passed on their new-found knowledge and skills to the villagers with whom they work in Jeevika-supported projects – and in this way, the Auroville experience helped Jeevika and its partner organisations expand their ways of working with some of India’s most disadvantaged villagers living in remote areas of Tamil Nadu and Orissa.
We also had fun!