“I was tired of life and on the verge of committing suicide. The Art of Living program changed my life. Now I have found a new direction in life and motivation to cultivate my own land.”
– Sanjay Manikdarkar, a farmer from Vidarbha who attended our programs
Over the last decade the region of Vidarbha has accounted for nearly 70% of all suicides in Maharashtra. Lack of water and overuse of expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides has rendered the land infertile and has left the farmers indebted. Many farmers continue to lead lives of distress, disappointed by repeated crop failures.
It took a wholehearted effort by our team to bring about a surreal transformation in many of these villages. Through the highly effective Art of Living workshops, we empowered villagers and united them towards change. Initiatives like zero budget farming, and rainwater harvesting were effectively implemented leading to a lasting resolution of major issues.
The 507 villages we reached out to have been completely reinvigorated. Many farmers have re-started cultivation with the aim of clearing out their debts and getting their lives back on track. Testimony to our success is that amongst the 151 villages we adopted, there has not even been a single case of suicide.
No suicide case in the 151 villages that we adopted in the last two years.
How does the journey look so far?
507 villages reached out
in a span of 2 years, no suicide reported in 151 adopted Villages
Stress relief workshops
conducted for over 613,133 locals
1,086 local youth trained
as a part of Youth Leadership Training Program
Zero Budget Farming
workshops conducted for 16,312 farmers
91 Soak pits constructed
to enable water retention
programs initiated in many villages
How did we work?
We selected 35 of our best Yuvacharyas (youth leaders) from across Maharashtra to work in the target area. After training and briefing these Yuvacharyas they were divided into small teams and sent to different parts of Vidarbha.
These teams in turn identified prospective local candidates for the YLTP program and within a few months trained 1,086 local youth. These trained youngsters spearheaded our interventions creating a ripple affect in the adopted villages.
What did we learn?
As we studied the water conservation efforts we found that multiple government departments were active but there was no coherent strategy. Such uncoordinated efforts at natural resource management were well intentioned but did not yield the desired results.
The other primary learning was that to solve a human issue like farmer suicides merely economic aid was not enough. Involving the local community and inspiring individuals to drive the projects was also essential.
How can you contribute?
What we achieved in Vidarbha is a good example for the kind of change that can be brought about if a sense of community ownership is built. Our efforts albeit time bound were very effective.
Given the right kind of support we can significantly scale up our interventions and the resultant change.