A group of volunteers in Coimbatore and other places have been sharing forward the gifts we have received through Nature Cure Camps that focus on Promotion of Health instead of Focus on Disease. These camps are also a a way for us to deepen our practice in Giftivism and broadening the ecology.
The experiment is 8 years old and ongoing and hence, thousands of people have attended these camps. In the previous years, volunteers have spent a lot of time talking about how everything in the camp is offered in the spirit of gift and yet, so many would ask at the end of it all - why don't you just tell me how much I need to pay for this and how much for that?
This year, that spirit, seems to have come full circle. One of my volunteering assignments for this camp was to call people beforehand to get to know them better and also familiarize them with the down to earthiness they are about to experience when they come to the camp. And very often, just as I got to the payment/contribution part, the so far ardent listener at the other end would jump in and say "I know how that works! My spouse/neighbor/friend/relative told me. I love that idea! / I can't believe it / am so eager to experience it!/ Bless you all". And many of them are every day people from small towns and even villages. Some of their words would leave me speechless and remind me again and again about the universality of Dharma.
And thus started 4 different Nature Cure camps spread over 2 weeks at Sadhana Farms, a 50 acre mini forest near Coimbatore.
About 35 enthusiastic and young at heart participants from mostly urban backgrounds attended Nature Cure Basics English Course , They spent 6 days with Dr. Arun Sharma learning Life Natural theory, doing hands on therapies, practicing Karma Yoga in the farm/kitchen and having fun with one another. One of the participants would break out into a song about every carrot and tomato that she touched and that was a great energizer, especially on the day of fasting.
And simultaneously, 15 practicing students learnt nuances of health education with Dr. Sharma in a Health Educator prep course. These students also assisted and trained with the basic course students, doubling up as their Health Buddies.
The logistics and therapies were handled excellently by parents of our good friend Dr. Arun Kumar
, who are now full time volunteers on the farm.
The following week, a new batch of 45 people started their Basic course the local language, Tamil. It was heartening to see many former students bringing other members of their families and neighborhood to the camp, tuning themselves to serve the space. Some of the students from English batch were also moved to stay on and serve the next batch.
The last 2 days was a celebration of sorts with 15 little people in the 8-14 age group coming in for a Kids Camp with Dr. Sharma who taught them, made up slogans and songs with them. Some teens would ask him apparently gross questions like how to build really big muscles and he would answer from the subtle framework and in the end both would be nodding and smiling. The kids pitched with dining service on a Saturday night and that brought a special flavor of joy to all.
On one of the days, the farm was facing power shortage that resulted in water shortage. And while hosting 80 plus people seemed like the challenge of the moment, generosity and self organization manifested where people in rooms with water in their storage invited others in so the camp can flow smoothly and as per schedule.
A lot of hearts melted in gratitude as many experienced a remarkable progress in health in just a week. And the idea of health as something beyond the body was exemplified by the lady with Multiple Sclerosis in her wheel chair putting out her best smiles and blessings for those around. And her tireless husband wheeling her, reflected those smiles into beams of light for everyone to soak in.
As people sat in circles sharing the purpose of being here and what brings forth gratitude within, voices choked and tears flowed. As they sang and danced at night, smiles rolled into laughters. Most importantly, in the beginning, middle and at the end, everyone was a volunteer and everyone was family.