Looking for a Better World

Part 4/8

Broken But Resilient

Twenty years ago, as Soundararajan was reading a newspaper at a bus stand, he came upon an article about Amma and her efforts to elevate poor people. He thought, “I would love to meet her.”

His life in the village was very hard: such low income, scarce food, no medical facilities and such back pain. Like all the villagers, he had to struggle to barely survive. How could he reach Amritapuri and ask for support?

A few months later, his barber told him about Amma. He had gone to see her and wanted to share his powerful experience with everybody. Soundararajan asked him thousands of questions. He wanted to know all the details about this wonderful Amma.

His dream finally came true, in a surprising way. A social worker arrived one morning. He had been sent by Embracing the World to offer literacy projects and vocational training to villagers. All over the district, courses were organised: plumbing, electricity, stitching, embroidery, handicraft, fruit preservation, etc. The villagers could register for free, follow the training and even get some micro-credit to start their own businesses.

His dream finally came true, in a surprising way.

Soundararajan was thrilled by these courses. Moreover, he took the opportunity to enumerate all the difficulties the village was facing. He talked about the lack of infrastructure: no running water, no bathrooms, no electricity. Dirty children were often rejected by other school kids. Children were failing at school because it meant nothing either to them or their parents. In reply, the social worker felt deeply moved when he grasped the situation.

Thus, when Amrita Serve was launched, the village was selected to benefit from the multi-faceted program. As the people in the village were already familiar with Embracing the World, Soundararajan had no problem convincing his neighbours to fully participate. He himself took the initiative to draw a list of all the villagers who qualified for toilets. He looks at me and smiles. A pale smile that lights up his face for a few seconds, taking away the deep down, heavy, ancient sadness from his eyes.

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