Amrita Sanjeevani, the student seva association of Amritapuri campus, organized a youth camp titled Sanjeevanam’15, at Attapadi during May 24-26, 2015. The camp provided a rich experience for all the participants, serving to expand their hearts and minds and leading them to discover a new kind of happiness.
Forty Amrita students participated in the three day camp. The camp was inaugurated by Sampoojya Swami Turiyamritananda Puri. Swamiji distributed bags, umbrellas, sarees, towels, woollen clothes and medicinal plants like the anti cancer ‘Lakshmi Tharu’ to the villagers which they received very thankfully.
The first of Sanjeevani’s efforts at Attapadi was to renovate one of the old Ashram buildings to make it usable as a tuition center for the village children. The next step was to create awareness through classes on the health consequences of alcohol and smoking and why we should avoid these evil habits and finally, the very necessary guidance on sanitation and cleanliness for improving healthy living by creating clean surroundings.
The students were divided into 3 groups and were assigned to three different activities, renovate ashram building, conduct awareness classes and provide guidance on sanitation and cleanliness. The first group took charge of renovating the ashram building and painting to bring a new look for children's tuition classroom. “The pathetic condition in which we found made us decide to give colours in their classroom learning environment,” the team shared.
The second group was assigned to conduct awareness and educate the villagers. The group was further divided into small teams and they visited each and every house in the locality and interacted with the locals and educated them and created awareness on evils of alcohol and smoking and to improve sanitation and hygiene. “The task was not easy, as there were many who refused to change their conventional ways of living. Nothing could withdraw them from those set things and customs. But our group could move at least several, particularly the young, which we would consider a great success,” the team said.
The third group undertook the task of sharing knowledge with children. The children at the village were very energetic and eager to learn more. “The light of knowledge was already lit in them. What we could do was to enhance the glory of that light. We were captivated by their innocent laughter, smile and friendliness. These really touched us. They embraced us with passion and love,” the students shared.
“We, the staff and students, were equally surprised at the welcome we received from the local tribal villagers. There was a natural and spontaneous spurt of societal commitment and compassion felt by each of us– which is bound to be alive in us for years to come,” shared Brahmacharini Vandana, Director of Amrita Sanjeevani. The enthusiastic participation of the children of the village helped Amrita Sanjeevani, through tireless efforts, to bring about a change in the village in just three days. “The full credit for the fruition of these ‘achievements’– should go to the capable guidance of the staff members from Ammachi Labs, no less to the initiatives of Amrita Foundation courses: AYUDH- the Village group; Amrita CREATE, ICTS, GAD and the guest room members of Amritapuri. The great support of the Coimbatore campus Administrators, CREATE team at Attapadi and the Alumni members of Parippally cannot be described in words. We are extremely thankful to all of them and to our well-wishers in and out of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham for their great and whole-hearted support to this venture, ” Brahmacharini Vandana added.
The students further shared, “Many things in our life come unexpectedly. They unfold magical feelings and imprint golden marks in our life. Sanjeevanam'15, the Youth Camp at Attapadi village, was such an experience. It brought ecstatic moments to our otherwise routine life of books and study. The forty students who decided to go for this visit can undoubtedly say that was one of the best ever experiences in our lives and we are be proud of our decision to participate in this venture. What we gained by this trip in terms of satisfaction, happiness, enjoyment and contentment was very much greater than what we expected. Those 3 days of togetherness has created memories that will live for decades in each of us. Coming to what we did there, we may call it "service", but I think, more than a service it was doing what is our responsibility to society and to our less-fortunate brethren. It has given us all new strength to see that we could be of help to our fellow beings who are in suffering and difficulty.
With tears in eyes and heart brimming with affection, they bid us farewell on the last day. Our eyes too were wet by then. We feel short of words to describe the depth of our experiences at Attapadi. Though we went there to ‘give’ what we can to them, we now know that we actually have ‘gained’ a lot in the process. There is no doubt that none of us will ever miss another chance to go there if it comes our way.”