Looking for a Better World
What I learned from villagers in Kerala and Tamil Nadu
When I first met Amma, in August 2006, I was coming back from Palestine. After six months of working in a local NGO, my head was full of questions. The main one was: why is there so much violence in the world? It sounds naïve, but it was actually quite traumatic. I was obsessed by images of war, I would often think about the people I had met on the field, and I did not know what to do with myself after that experience.
That year, then, I arrived in India, confused, and in need of clarity. A few years before, I had spent a year studying in Delhi, taking part in an exchange program offered by my school in Paris. India is a country I cherish, where I have always felt at home. I decided to give myself a break, to spend some time with my dear Indian friends, but also to learn yoga, hoping it would help me to find calm and to regain my balance.
It’s actually one of my friends who told me to visit Amma’s ashram in Kerala. To say the truth, I did not know what to expect. I was not on a spiritual path, I was not familiar with meditation, I was just lonely and sad. But, then, I don’t know how, something happened. Right from the beginning, I was moved by Amma. I liked her message of peace, I liked the way she walked the talk, spreading peace and building a better world thanks to the NGO she founded in the 1980’s.
I have seen several projects launched by Amma in Europe–green and social initiatives like planting trees, encouraging organic gardening, helping homeless people, etc. But I wanted more. I wanted to better bear witness to the countless Indian projects.
After that first encounter, Amma became part of my life. Inside, she was my spiritual master, outside, I watched her NGO expand. I was impressed by the programs she was launching. So much boldness and generosity, such efficiency in disaster-relief, such a modern way to address development issues. Not only did she have a vision for the world, but she also had the ability to inspire people to participate. I thought it was beautiful.
However, in my opinion, her huge work has not yet received the recognition it deserves. Sometimes, in the press, even skeptical comments about her achievements. Is all this really true? Can one believe it? Many journalists doubt such kindness exists. They question her capacity to have such an impact on the world and to come up with practical solutions to contemporary issues.
Over the years, I have seen several projects launched by Amma in Europe–green and social initiatives like planting trees, encouraging organic gardening, helping homeless people, etc. But I wanted more. I wanted to better bear witness to the countless Indian projects. That’s how I got involved with Amrita Serve.
Rajani Menon, supervisor of the programmes in the Idukki district of Kerala, agreed to be my guide. On a wet Monday afternoon, as the sun was going down, we left for what turned out to be a wonderful journey.