Martin Donkin writes:
Thirteen people met on Tyneside on 11 February to consider the ideas and practice of Manavodaya. We began the day with yoga and meditation. We heard Pete Richmond and Doreen Kelly talk about the work of Manavodaya in rural India – helping villagers to set up self-help groups. Pete and Doreen described how Manavodaya International UK was trying to financially support this work in India and explore connections with and relevance to practice in the UK.
The discussion focused on three areas where there might be relevance to the UK.
- Inner developement – some participants already practiced some reflective techniques or gave carefull consideration to their behaviour and its impact upon people they were trying to support.
- Professional work – facilitators of work who support dispossessed or marginalised people often work flat out to keep their organisation going. There seems little time for reflection about how our values are reflected in our behaviour. Self-reflection will benefit our work and sense of fulfillment.
- Equality work – the group considered Manavodaya’s ‘outer development’ or equality work related to the UK. There were many good ideas for collective action: joining a local community action group, environmental work, supporting the Hardest Hit campaign. The group was united by common values around social justice but wondered what would be the group’s common purpose. The Eight Steps in Action were thought to be a useful structure for future discussion while thinking further about how social justice practice could develop.
Some of the discussion was about the universality of the Eight Steps and how there were similar useful frameworks. Many of the group wanted to think more about them and meet again. Others unable to attend on the day can join the discussion then.