Give Kids a Chance Benefit Concert & Livestream

 

Give Kids a Chance Benefit Concert & Livestream

Our wonderful friends in Bristol, UK are putting on a fund-raising concert for us on 24 October, 2015. The concert will be in Bristol and will be Livestreamed around the world so anyone can watch it anywhere on their computer!

If you’d like to join the Livestream, please join our mailing list here to receive joining instructions nearer the time. Please also join and share the Facebook Event.

If you are in the UK and in reach of Bristol, you can buy tickets here and join and share the Facebook Event.

For full details of the concert and the world class musicians playing, see the Event Page.

Oh – and I will be there too in Bristol at the concert sharing about Ramana’s Garden.

Love

Prabha

 

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“Say YES Now”!

Interview with Prabhavati Dwabha

by Jason Francis

Share International Magazine

SI: What is the personal background like of many of the children who are helped by Ramana’s Garden?

PD: For them to live in Ramana’s Garden they have either no parents or a justifiable reason why they couldn’t remain with a single parent; a drunk and abusive father would be a reason, especially if he was involved in the mother’s death, or a widow with absolutely no way to sustain themselves or their children would be another reason. We also have a number of refugees who have come to us after the Maoist Guerilla war in Nepal. Because of wars going on in Nepal many children have lost their families. And girls who were sold into prostitution, we rescue them before they can actually get used in brothels. There is no one in the home itself who isn’t coming from a severely traumatic background or they wouldn’t be here.

 

SI: How are the overall mindset, self-esteem and self-image of the children being changed?

PD: We notice a huge change. The main thing is the kids empower themselves through their creativity mainly. We have a dance troupe that danced in the number one _Spa/Resort, Anand Himalaya. It was rated number one in the world recently. And they present cultural programs there every week so that’s very confidence building, creates a lot  of self-esteem. The dance troupe was been invited to Tour England in summer.They traveled to England to present “Giving It All Back”, cultural presentations for one of England’s oldest resort chains called “Butlins” as well as offering presentations in Omand Street Children Hospital and many underprivileged schools.

The children who live in Ramana’s Garden make most of their own clothes and clothes for the poor children. As part of our vocational training we run our own bakery and  Organic Café; so the children are very empowered. The beautiful baked goods are desired by so many people. The children are with the customers when they are actually serving in the café. The children also have their own gift shop where they make jewelry and sell it. These things are very empowering. Once you recognize your self-worth and your self-value than you come to an understanding that whatever has happened to you in the past has given you the strength and courage to be where you are now. And they begin to see what a tremendous advantage they have.

 

SI: You were going to leave India at one point but you had quite an experience with The River Ganga (Ganges) flooding the cave you were staying in and sweeping all of your belongings away. Could you tell us what you learned from that experience?

PD: I believe what the master intended for me to learn was that you can never put your foot in the same river twice being that change is infinite and never-ending. The message of the river was to understand that everything is in flux, everything is in constant change. And to come to really not only understand but live in impermanence and non –attachment, because it’s is only there that you will truly find what is needed to be  at peace within oneself.  I believe that’s why he sent me there. The impermanent part was the river rising and taking my cave and all of my earthy possessions. I feel whether I actually accomplished everything he sent me there to do I’m not sure I can answer that. What it did give me is  a tremendous trust in life and existence and certainly an ability to live much more in the present, in the here and now.

 

SI: Could you describe your concept of an inner, rather than material, “abundance” and why you feel that type of abundance is important?

PD: For the children it’s essential because no one can know what our future will be. No one can know when something could take the walls down around us and send the children back into the street. There’s nothing that I can give them on a material level that can ever give them true security anymore than I could say that if we had million$, which we certainly don’t, in the bank that would give us true security. The only thing that’s going to give myself, the children, or anyone for that matter, security is, when they understand that it isn’t about what they have on the outside. It’s about knowing who they really  are. It’s about having inner gratitude and you can’t take that away from them even if the outer stuff collapses around us if they really have trust in who they really are and their self-worth. They’ve come from nothing; if you have a rich comfort zone you fear losing that; you have a lot more attachments. The kids came out of nothing; some of them came really right out of the gutter; they know that they survived there. And we try to make them understand their misfortune was a divine gift. I believe, that you learn what you live. And through living they’ve had the opportunity to see the darkest of the dark. That will give them eyes to appreciate the life they’re living now. Not to fear that they might return to the dark, but to understand  what they have within them can never be taken away. I mean we are very happy if we have walls around us, a bed to sleep in, and lots of food to eat but our being, our true happiness, isn’t going to depend on that. Life gives us enough opportunity to understand and experience  that  when we really don’t have enough money to run this project. When money is getting really tight  I see the kids really make do with what we have and I don’t see anyone being depressed about it. We had a really meager Christmas where we just almost had no presents, and everybody made things, made cards, and recycled things. They was much more gratitude for what little we had, that we were together, that we were able to have anything at all.

 

SI: You claim this hardship is part of the teaching. Could you explain what you mean?

PD: It must be part of our lessons to learn from, it keeps happening and happening. I’ve been traveling for funding this project for eighteen years. I usually do a full around the world, eighteen or twenty cities. I meet the CEOs of companies everyday that could write me a single check and take care of this project for the next twenty years of its life and no one has done so. So, there must be some teaching in the fact that we go up and down and in and out of hardship otherwise the material abundance would have arrived; it could happen today. We can only accept that it hasn’t happened yet because we are supposed to become better surfers with what is.

 

SI: What do you mean by “Say YES Now”?

PD: Exactly that; that is the name of the whole project. It’s saying “yes” to “now”; now when there’s abundance, now when we have cake and ice cream, and yes to the times when we just have enough to eat but with the same yes. Not just saying yes to the way we would like it to be because then we’ll suffer because there is always going to be conflict and  things that are not the way we would like it to be. And just accepting whatever is happening now. That’s so important to these kids because I can’t promise; I don’t know how long we’re going to last. And people get really “freaked out” with me: “You have no financial security at all. How can you be doing that?” Well, because we are doing it, that’s just how it is. So, we try to constantly keep the focus on the “now”. Now saying we have enough—maybe not as much as yesterday, maybe tomorrow there will be more, but neither of those things are a reality. Right now we have enough and we have enough to be grateful for. That is what really matters: living in gratitude.

 

Prabha addresses peoples concerns about the dangers of terrorism in India

“If we are to reach real peace in this world, and  if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

It has been several years since I was called to visit Poona, home of Osho and my home for the first 14 years of my life in India.  It was Sat. my last evening there and I was out doing last minute shopping. German Bakery was on my list but as I past it at 6:00 in my rickshaw heading for M.G.Rd. it was already bustling with activity. We were held in traffic as I watched pretty young Indian girls carrying their friends on the back of their Scooty’s arriving in their designer jeans, glittering Icon Tee-shirts ,beaming with excitement in anticipation of their evening out on the town.

One especially pretty young woman caught my eyes as she crossed in front of me in her hot pink “Barbie Doll” Tee Shirt flinging her long , shiny, mane of hair confidently over her shoulder. How could I ever imagine the next time I would see her again would be in pieces.

Memories flooded back accompanying me all the way to town. All the plans, secrets, laughter, and dreams we shared there at those same tables over a cappuccino or an ABC juice when we thought better to be healthy. All the hurried  goodbyes as we dashed for the bus departing to Goa already afloat with visions of white sand beaches, swaying palms, and good beach parties… the early returning mornings eager to show off our tan and share our countless adventures with anyone ready to listen.

That was the magic of the “Bakery”, there was always someone we knew or were excited to know there to share a few moments of our often too busy lives.

Even on the gloomiest of mornings when we just wanted to disappear into our double espresso it was impossible to resist the wonderful Nepali waiter’s smiles.

On my way back I was suddenly shaken to my roots by an enormous blast that nearly derailed my rickshaw over the bridge. I assumed it was some kind of military test and grumbled on to the driver about how they really shouldn’t be allowed to do things like that as we sat immobilized in a herd of impatient traffic.

When we finally inched our way through to the petrol pump I was certain I would expire breathing a second more of the exhaust fumes and jumped out to walk to the Bakery. People were running toward me waving their arms yelling,”go back there is a bomb!” I proceeded anyway having to step carefully over all the pieces of the roof, wood, tin, and flesh that littered the street 100 meters away.

GONE! Absolutely everything that an hour before had been abuzz with laughter, chatter, meeting, parting,…LIFE being lived to fullest… innocent lives…blown to bits, still burning beyond recognition with chemicals that refused to give up their viscous flames of horror.

We all read it almost everyday;” 50 people killed and 200 wounded in Terrorist Blast that ripped through…….

But those doesn’t tear through your heart with the same intensity as it does when the splinters of wood surrounding you were a stool you sat not so long ago upon.. or  it’s the smiling Nepali waiter, or that special Sannyasin friend, you laughed with so often who will never smile or laugh again.

It is not for the dead I mourn here but rather the 58 injured. Better said, burned beyond recognition or missing limbs. It is for the hours, days, months that they will lie in agony praying for recovery as they watch those around them die daily bringing the new death toll up to 17??

As I finally walked away when the last victims were being loaded into ambulances, trembling with a mixture of gratitude for the Grace that had spared me this and feeling the icy grip of terror clenching my heart.

Terrorist :defined as one who instills terror in the hearts of masses.

Yes, they have been very successful tonight. No one of our Sannyasin family will ever feel the same safe and secure, cozy feeling we have felt all these years in our Poona Home.

Hate beyond anything we have faced in all our therapy chambers or pounded out on our pillows has left its bloody mark here. Hate that walked into the bakery filled with laughter, youth, life, hopes, and dreams with the deliberate intention to kill them all..

Did they sit among them; have a coffee as they watched them. Did they bump against them in the crowd: feel their bodies throbbing with life and vitality? Did they look into their eyes aglow with the excitement of the night before they placed the bag of death under one of their tables? Did they perhaps, ask them if they would watch the bag for them?

How can we understand this depth of hate? Moreover, what can we do to stop it?

They weren’t visible monsters. No one even noticed them. They were just like everyone else there except something inside them had been twisted and broken.

Is there anything anyone could have done to prevent it? This is the question that haunts me.

Was everyone so caught in their own little bubbles of their lives to even notice them or feel their presence among them?

What if someone had looked into their eyes with love?

What if someone had gone out of their way to extend kindness to them?

Would it have made any difference? Would they still have been able to carry out their deadly plan? Was it so easy to kill because all were “strangers”?

I don’t have these answers. I face these same questions from my 67 kids:

What can we do?

How can we prevent it happening to us here?

Shall I tell them to live in fear; to run from every bag they see, to never talk to strangers, to close their bubble tighter around themselves when they meet strangers?

My gut feeling is to tell them, rather, to go out of their way to insure that none ever remain strangers. That all who cross our path feel our love and caring in whatever way we can share it.

I don’t believe the Governments are ever going to do anything to change terror other than continue to make it worse. As long as we remain divided, separate, strangers, hate will thrive and terror will feed on it.

Terror can only be stopped one to one.

They didn’t become terrorists in that instant. They had to ride in buses, trains, walk down streets, interact with shopkeepers, waiters,….. hundreds of people before that night.

We may never know why such a hate was there but I believe we are all given many opportunities to make a difference to defuse it before it explodes..

I told the kids to just imagine that every stranger they meet might be a potential terrorist. Something may have happened to turn his heart to stone. You don’t become a terrorist if you love yourself and feel love and connection for others. Now if they meet him sitting next to them on the bus it is their chance to defuse a little of that hate with a smile or just tuning into him and sending him love silently. But don’t ignore him! Don’t close down and withdraw from him. That only feeds his wounds.

When we were in London on our dance tour we saw people begging on the street. Hundreds of people were walking past them mostly ignoring them completely. Every once in a while one would drop a coin in their cup but without looking at them. Then the kids went to them and gave them 1 pound coin. They looked into their eyes, smiled at them, talked to them, telling them they hoped this would buy them a meal or a cup of hot coffee. The people’s reactions were so beautiful. They acted like the kids had given them 1000’s they smiled, grabbed the children’s hands thanking them.

So little goes such a long way to the heart.

Realizing the Abundance in Our Lives

An Interview with Prabhavati Dwabha

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Prabhavati Dwabha, Director of Ramana’s Garden, Rishikesh, India, formed Ramana’s Garden Home for Destitute Children in India as a result of her spiritual practice on the banks of the River Ganga. Here is a short interview excerpt concerning abundance:

Q. Why have you chosen abundance as the theme of your seminars?

A. We learn what we live. That’s what life in Ramana’s Garden is about: discovering our abundance. I can’t share anything that hasn’t come out of my own personal experience. Most of these children come to us from traumatic backgrounds having seen their parents murdered, or murder each other, having been sold into prostitution, or worse. I can’t promise them that now everything will be rosy and perfect here. I can only say maybe we will have some hard times and storms to weather together but they will not have to suffer anymore. Here they learn that happiness isn’t dependent on external conditions like whether you have the approval or disapproval of others, money, or luxury. They discover their own abundance within themselves that no situation outside can ever take away from them again.

Q. Speaking of finances, I have heard you often face extreme financial hardships here in the project. Are you going to tell me that you run this home and school for these children as well as 3 other schools for poor children with no security? (Her laughter is contagious and I find myself laughing as well.)

A. No, I won’t tell you that. It wouldn’t be true. Yet it is true that we have some hard times, but that is all part of the teaching. Our sense of security doesn’t depend on our bank balance. It is based in a deep trust that we will not be asked to bear more that we are capable of.

Q. A friend of mine visited in December and told me you were having an especially bad year and were not even able to celebrate xmas with the children?

A. Yes, financially speaking you could call last year a disaster but all in all it was one of our most abundant Christmases ever. Not having money was an invitation to expand our creativity. Until today we have always had enough food, mainly because we grow most of it ourselves. The children made all the decorations from rubbish they collect from the streets. They made beautiful colored lanterns, plastic bag flowers and x-mas trees. The results were magnificent. They baked hundreds of decorated cookies and on x-mas morning got up early and went into the village singing to distribute to all visitors and villagers.

Q. Is it true that you were an actress living the high life with fancy cars, a house at the sea, and closets full of designer clothes? Don’t you miss any of that?

A. Maybe a good Chocolate Mousse! I don’t miss any of the suffering. My life was an enormous begging bowl that was always empty. No matter what I put into it, it was never enough. I was still looking for abundance outside myself.

Q. And now you are not?

A. That would be foolish now, wouldn’t it?

Q. Aren’t you afraid that someday you won’t be able to manage all this?

A. If I let my mind run into the future, I can find all kinds of fears, doubts, and reasons to stop today. But sitting here with you now in the sunshine, listening to the children’s laughter and the delicious smells coming from the kitchen, I can only say: “Come on let’s celebrate over an abundant lunch.”