Sustainaware @ Sugad : The Jai Jagat Experience
Posted by Abhishek Thakore on Nov 28, 2014
Our global family came alive at Sugad last week, as young change agents from 9 different countries (across 4 continents) came together for a retreat.
The intent was to explore ‘sustainability’ in a totally new light: a very Indian approach to deal with the challenge of sustainable development being faced by humanity.
As a part of Sustainaware, we travelled to different countries and understood their challenges, underwent their training programs and served there – from Nigeria to Argentina and Slovenia to Liechtenstein, it was all the diversity in the world.
The final leg was India – and we had to give our friends what we refer to as the ‘Ahmedabad’ experience.
What ensued in the next 6 days was soul stirring. A group of people used to intellectual conversations and project visits was suddenly practicing silence, cleanliness and doing dishes! There were looks of confusion, surprise and smiles as we began…
And yet, over the six days, they came upon some deep realizations. Michela(Liechtenstein) shared in the closing circle “I had come to travel India – but this was also such a deep journey within.”
After easing into the space with our opening circle, we had Siddharth sharing stories of our ecosystem – stories of Raghu, Nimo, Madhu and his own! We explored Gandhi 101 with clips from the movie….Gandhi 3.0 memories were refreshed. And the exploration of this man, this idea called Gandhi began.
Over the next few days, we explored personal edges and the ‘Integral Gandhi’ (how Gandhi’s approach combined the inner and the outer, the individual and the collective). There was also Theatre for change and a World Café….but the most profound ones were yet to come!
The silent dinner moved people deeply – “I have been to 28 programs before this, and NEVER have I experienced this” said Marchie (Hungary). There was an evening at Seva Café with spirited sharing from within the group – and spontaneously, 2 women who are amazing singers but had never sung before stepped up to sing to an audience! Bhaskar was in his element as the Seva Café team joined a robust ‘Sanedo’ dance. Jayeshbhai spent some intimate time with us at the Toilet Café, talking about heart-led social change.
The presence of this group became a highlight for the Anganwadi sisters whose program was going on in parallel – they could not stop clicking pictures and trying to start conversations. Our loving participants obliged – right from wearing a sari (suggested by Sonal from the Sugad team) to dancing the garba and interacting with the sisters during the session, sharing experiences.
All these experiences culminated with a visit to RamNagar – a 4000 people village outside Ahmedabad. Gandabhai, the head of the village ensured the warmest welcome ever – to complete strangers! Exploring the village crescendoed in a musical evening – with garba!
A huge circle with the villagers and participants dancing to live music – in the ensuing interaction, we spoke about how the world is now one family, we meet as brothers and sisters. The team performed for the villagers, and some interesting questions were asked including “Do your parents oppose love marriages in your country? What is the lifestyle? How do you celebrate festivals?”
The closing walk of gratitude, sharing by Madhu and interaction with Mukeshbhai moved some to tears.
The project aimed to involve youth with fewer opportunities - Denize (Argentina) aptly summed it up the realization, “….those with fewer opportunities are really those who cannot step into the shoes of the others.”
We had been chanting “Jai Jagat” through the conference, but the real meaning of this term truly sank in only at the end.