BR. SEKHAR MILAN
Br. Sekhar Milan responded to Amma’s passionate dream of Village Empowerment of our holy nation, Bharat. Amma instructed him to help alleviate the water problems of farmers through effective technical interventions. She asked him to help with domestic water, sanitation, water-borne diseases and more. Amma advised him to serve India’s rural family with care and devotion.
When Br. Sekhar visited a village in Rajasthan, it was an eye-opener. He said, “The sturdy resolve with which our village communities battle the age-old challenges of health, employment, agriculture, education and more; is worth emulation! I realize that they disregard lost battles, since the war will result in a decisive victory!”
Seeing their daily struggles induced in him a sense of gratefulness towards God. Their ethos of culture, such as ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ cultivated a feeling that he was yet to be civilized. In the village community, plentiful displays of care and concern contrasted with the isolation of his familiar culture. He sensed an unclear boundary between giver and receiver, embracing the opportunity for his own spiritual progress.
Br. Sekhar believes that the only task is to awaken the sleeping giant of rural India to its own self-belief and self-reliance. He firmly trusts that Amma is guiding Amrita SeRVe’s efforts towards Village Empowerment, and that Her dream will soon blossom in full colour and fragrance. Currently he is focusing on watershed management for farmers, for increased access and rainwater harvesting.
As a little boy David helped his father grow vegetables and care for goats and chickens, and his family was self-sufficient for food. Based on this early experience, David chose to work with nature so that its laws are respected and its diversity maintained. In the last fifteen years, David has planted 5,000 native trees in Ireland, managed an organic farm growing medicinal herbs, created a community garden, and conducted organic farming and seed-saving courses in European countries.
Considering bees as a keystone specie for all of nature, David started keeping bees 10 years ago. Rather than harvesting the honey from his 35 hives, the intention was to encourage the bee population. The natural habitats of bees are decreasing and are endangered by the pesticides used in modern agriculture. Bees are crucially important for pollination and seed-saving.
Having gathered his knowledge mainly through observing nature and experimenting with different growing techniques over the years, David desired to make this onfield knowledge easily available and realisable for hobby farmers using organic techniques. Through educational videos he’s shared with more than 4,000,000 people worldwide via his youtube channel “workwithnature.”
In all his gardening and vegetable growing activities David aimed at using organically-grown seeds. Lack of availability inspired him to start seed-saving himself. Seeds are where it all starts. He has now collected over 300 varieties from all over the world and created a seed exchange website. In conjunction with AmritaSeRVe and for the benefit of start-up organic farmers, he is presently starting a seed-saving farm and storage facility in India, as requested by Amma.
JAGANNATH (JOHN KAISNER)
Jagannath became passionate about Natural Farming and Permaculture after he met Amma in San Ramon, CA, USA, in 2008.
Previously, he was an actor in New York City and Los Angeles. He then became an Architect, receiving his M-ARCH degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign. He practiced architecture for 15 years, and has completed projects in Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. In 2012 he moved to Amritapuri ashram, where he began work as an Architect at Amrita University, Vallickavu campus.
Following efforts towards creating an EcoVillage on campus, in 2014 Jagannath was invited to join the Amrita SeRVe team as Head of Agriculture. He can often be seen wearing very dirty clothing and a big straw hat, as he is the principal worker at the Amrita SeRVe Demonstration Farm. What has impressed him the most during his tenure as farm manager is that by using virtually no budget and resources that are easily available in every village, the farm is becoming a true model of sustainability here in India.
He is very grateful for the opportunity to serve Amma and the villagers of India with this project, and feels quite fortunate to participate in a manner that brings all of his previous life experiences and pursuits together in a very special way.