Violence is not merely that which is committed through wars, bombs, grenades and guns. Every choice and decision we make has the potential to be a decision for peace or a decision for violence. Making choices that lead to polluted and depleted water, soil and air due to which our brothers and sisters suffer and die from hunger, thirst or water-borne illnesses is also violence. Making choices that lead to a grossly inequitable distribution of critical resources such that vast percentages of people in our world needlessly perish is also violence. Making choices to permit -- through apathy, indifference or complacency -- a continuation and growth of global starvation, lack of sanitation and hygiene, inadequate health care, illiteracy, and subjugation is also violence.
Approximately one billion people will go to bed hungry tonight. Thousands of children will die today, and again tomorrow and again the day after, due to lack of safe and sufficient water, sanitation and hygiene.
In the foothills of the Himalayas, on the Ganga (Ganges) River, is the beautiful Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, a place whose name means the abode of service for all. Here, several global movements are ensuring a more peaceful world where people and nature coexist in sustainable harmony.
The inspiration for this work is Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, a world renowned spiritual leader who has dedicated his life to service for the environment, interfaith harmony, nonviolence, poverty-reduction, and disaster relief.
Said HRH Prince Charles of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, “I know that he and all the work that he and his colleagues do, is of remarkable significance.”
Among our programs are:
The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA)
Imagine if 90 school buses full of kindergarteners were to crash, with no survivors. The tragedy would be one remembered for the ages. Yet, every day this is how many of our youngest children are dying due to the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
Launched at UNICEF Headquarters under sponsorship of the Government of the Netherlands and USAID, GIWA is the world’s first global movement bringing together leaders of all faiths so that all people everywhere may have access to the life-giving benefits of proper water, sanitation and hygiene.
GIWA will be helping to provide clean water to approximately four million school children, in 18,000 schools in northern India, as well as hundreds of desperately-needed toilets so that women and children may be safe and community health improved.
Learn More at: www.i-wash.org
In June, 2013, tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of villages were tragically lost in flash-floods and landslides in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand, India. Countless families were left without homes, schools, or ways to earn a living. In several villages it is mostly widows and girl children who are left, as the men -- working in the mountains -- perished in the floods. Project Hope is working toward redevelopment of the area, focusing on safety, sanitation, safe water, safe soil (organic gardens, tree plantation), sustainable energy, free medical treatment for more than 60,000 people, skills-training and much more.
Learn More at: www.projecthope-india.org
The Divine Shakti Foundation
India is the hunger capital of the world, in which the lives of some 6,000 children every day are lost to starvation. One simple reason behind such needless tragedy is the lack of the education and skills training that can uplift people from the tragic bonds of poverty.
The Divine Shakti Foundation is dedicated to providing the skills and opportunities people need in order to not only survive, but thrive. In so doing, it sponsors, runs and supports several free schools, vocational programs, community and international outreach initiatives, environmental protection programs, as well as specialized empowerment centers and projects for women and girls.
Learn More at: www.divineshaktifoundation.org
Ganga Action Parivar
The life-giving Ganga is one of the most at-risk rivers in the world. Every day, it is polluted by some three billion liters of sewage and chemical waste, threatening the lives and livelihoods of the 500 million people who directly depend on it.
Ganga Action Parivar (family) was officially launched by the hands of H.H. the Dalai Lama, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, and many other revered saints and dignitaries. Its crucial initiatives are based on its 6-Ts Program (Trees, Trash, Taps, Toilets, Tracks and Tigers/Protection of Endangered Species), which provides a foundation for the people, animals and ecology of the Ganga River Basin to not only survive, but to thrive.
Learn More at: www.gangaaction.org
The National Ganga Rights Movement
The river that has inspired poets and sages for millennia has tragically become one of the most endangered rivers in the word. The water has become so polluted that it has become a hot-spot for cancers and other deadly diseases, such as typhoid and cholera.
National Ganga River Rights movement is a coalition of concerned citizens and organizations that are taking a stand on behalf of the Ganga River and its tributaries to ensure the river's right to flow unimpeded and unpolluted and the rights of those on Her banks to have healthy water and healthy soil.
The National Ganga Rights Movement brings a new and strong voice, backed by the successes in nations such as Ecuador, New Zealand and the United States.
Sign the petition for Ganga’s rights at www.gangarights.org
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This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 4: Season of Nonviolence