To see people helping other people live better lives and empower themselves to improve their communities is truly an incredible thing to witness first-hand. I had an opportunity to do just that in February when I traveled to India, where I was invited to participate in Sylvia Nakkach’s Yoga Voice program. One of the workshops was held at the Parivartan center in Bihar.
Parivartan means “transformation.” This is goal of the center’s founder, Sanjiv Kumar. The center’s mission is to help lift surrounding communities out of poverty and empower people by teaching skills and providing the necessary resources to make positive changes in their own lives. The energy of the center is truly amazing and inspirational in so many ways.
I feel very fortunate to have visited Parivartan, as it is a very special place that turns hope into reality. You see, many of the people in these poor communities are not exposed to anything special beyond their everyday survival, but the center is changing that by offering access to many things that can enhance people’s lives, such as a K-12 school, a library, a computer lab, a science lab, a pottery workshop, a theater, a soccer field, and programs that promote art and learning.
They also hire expert teachers to teach other teachers in neighboring villages how to teach in their own classrooms. There are classes at the center for farmers, too, so they can learn best agricultural practices and bring those practices to their own villages. The center’s professional kitchen provides meals prepared from non-GMO food grown at Parivartan. All of these resources are free and open to students who often have to walk as far as six kilometers or ride their bikes to come to the center.
An important aspect of Parivartan is how it is empowering women, some of whom were not allowed to leave their houses because of conservative ideas. The center invites women to come and learn how to spin yarn and sew pure cotton and hemp saris. I visited them while they were working, and their smiles lit up the room. They get out of their houses and out into the world where they are learning new skills, which gives them self-confidence and a sense of purpose that goes beyond looking after their households. This is real transformation at work.
To learn more about Partivartan, visit http://parivartanbihar.org/.