“To come to a place where people are willingly here to serve you, to give you a safe and transformative experience, that by itself is healing.” ~ Aviram Rozin
EPISODE 17 – AVIRAM ROZIN ON REFORESTATION, COMPASSION AND VOLUNTEERING
GROWING FORESTS AND COMMUNITY OFF THE GRID
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About this interview:
How to create an open sustainable living community, rooted in compassion and regeneration of the land.
In this episode Amisha sits down with Aviram Rozin, founder of the Sadhana Forest project in Tamil Nadu, India. The reforestation project and sustainable living community, which was established in 2003 on 70 acres of degraded land just outside Auroville, is designed around the primary principle of compassion. From the vegan organic food to the hand chiseled granite building stone, everything is carefully and consciously chosen under the criteria of compassion for all life and for the planet. Unschooling and Gift Economy are some of the compassionate ideologies that underpin the social aspects of the project, and the community nurture a culture of non violent communication and service.
What began as a way for a family of three to live in alignment with their chosen principles, has blossomed quickly into a vibrant transformational community with two further projects being established in Haiti and Kenya. The project in India hosts over 1000 short term volunteers every year and is home to around 20 long term volunteers who share a deep community to service and environmental regeneration.
After the 2010 earthquake, an invitation out of the blue and a “series of unexplained miracles” led to the establishment of the second reforestation project in Haiti, which now hosts hundreds of international and local volunteers each year. Aviram shares the astonishing story of how this project and a further project in Kenya came about and of the commitment of volunteers who are willing to live for long periods of time in very remote, poor areas without most of the infrastructure of modern life that we are accustomed to.
Aviram shares stories of daily life at Sadhana Forest and how the project brings people into greater contact with what nourishes and supports them, both within and without – carrying buckets of water for their daily use, charging their phones and laptops with the midday sun and discovering lifelong talents and passions. He goes on to explain some of the rituals and practises that create the foundations for a thriving sustainable living community and underpin the transformational effect reported by visitors and volunteers at Sadhana Forest. Finally, he shares a little about his newest project, the University of Compassion, which launched in February of this year and aims to bring compassion to the forefront of human thinking.
Aviram has been a member of the Global Restoration Council (an international committee on land restoration issues constituted by the World Resources Institute, Washington, DC) since 2016. And since 2017 he is a member of the board of the Foundation for World Education and the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Living Lab, Lausanne, Switzerland.
“I treat love as a resource that is never depleted. So sharing my love with people, animals, plants, water, this is the recharge- it is like a two way stream all the time. I don’t feel like there is energy flowing out of me that will finish – it is all the time flowing in and flowing out.” ~ Aviram Rozin
Aviram joined Auroville in 2002 with his wife, in 2003 they started Sadhana Forest, a reforestation project on 70 acres of degraded land. Sadhana Forest is dedicated to sustainable living in all its aspects, from construction with local and natural materials, to solar and human powered energy, a vegan organic diet, dry composting toilets etc. Over the years Sadhana Forest has grown to be an international, volunteer-based project focused on creating long-term food security through environmental restoration. Globally, there are 133 million malnourished people living in arid areas who have private land but are not using it to grow food due to lack of water and agricultural knowledge. Sadhana Forest trains local people in India, Haiti and Kenya in the use of water-saving irrigation techniques and provides them with free seedlings to plant drought-resistant, indigenous, food-bearing trees around their homes. These indigenous food forests are well protected from cutting and animal grazing by their owners. Sadhana Forest won third prize at The Humanitarian Water and Food Awards in Denmark, 2010. Every year the organization’s India, Haiti and Kenya centers host and train a total of over 1,500 volunteers, students, and interns from around 50 countries. Since 2016 Aviram is a member of the Global Restoration Council an international committee on land restoration issues constituted by the World Resources Institute, Washington, DC. And since 2017 he is a member of the board of the Foundation for World Education and the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Living Lab, Lausanne, Switzerland.
To find out more about Aviram and to find out how to volunteer, visit www.sadhanaforest.org
To connect or work with Amisha Ghadiali, visit www.amisha.co.uk
Links from this episode:
Pilgrimage and retreat with Amisha Ghadiali and Mischa Varmuza in Jan 2019
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