Spotlight - Disaster Relief

Service & Social Programs | Updated: | 4 min read

Spotlight - Disaster Relief

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has designed a three-stage intervention program for disaster relief to attend to the mental, emotional, and material needs of those devastated by man-made or natural disasters – Material Relief, Trauma Relief, and long-term Rehabilitation.

“Unless the trauma is released, food and medicines will not work. People cannot eat or sleep because the mind is full of the terrible tragedy that has befallen them. With a healing touch, support, and a vision for the future, disaster victims are able to reclaim their lives.” ~ Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Examples of past relief efforts include …

Beslan Terrorism

On September 1, 2004, Beslan’s Secondary School Number One was seized by a group of 32 terrorists related to the Second Chechen War. The siege ended on September 3 with a bloody shootout between the terrorists and Russian security forces, leaving 334 civilians dead and hundreds wounded. Children accounted for 186 of the fatalities.

The Art of Living Foundation launched trauma relief programs in Beslan to help alleviate the psychological trauma of victims, relatives and the Russian army. More than 1,000 people, including nearly 300 Russian army personnel, have benefited from the programs.

Ukraine Conflict

Art of Living centers in several cities of 7 neighboring countries were opened for refugees from Ukraine. Over 1200 students and 650 Ukrainian families were provided food and accommodation within the first few days of the refugee crisis.

Gurudev provided guidance and inspiration to the volunteers and organizers in Ukraine and neighboring countries on a daily basis.

Southeast Asia Tsunami

Within hours of the 2004 Tsunami, more than 5000 Art of Living Foundation volunteers began the emergency relief and trauma counseling efforts in affected regions. Within days of the tragedy, Gurudev traveled to the tsunami-affected areas and met with victims.

In Sri Lanka, hundreds of trauma-relief programs and counseling sessions were conducted. More than 25,000 people benefited from these programs. The Foundation also initiated long-term rehabilitation measures for the victims. In Nagapattinam (Tamil Nadu, India), the Foundation built 120 houses, set up vocational training centers and free educational facilities for the tsunami-affected children.

New Orleans Hurricane

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana, causing 1,500 fatalities, and leaving survivors in a state of shock, depression, and trauma. Within 48 hours, the Art of Living Foundation launched relief efforts and trauma camps.

Gurudev flew from India specifically to visit Katrina evacuees in Austin, where he was welcomed by Mayor Will Wynn. In Houston, Art of Living volunteers distributed food and emergency materials, helped to organize evacuees, and conducted empowerment and trauma programs for more than 200 children in evacuee camps. Within 30 days, a series of stress and trauma relief workshops for victims were conducted in Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas and Austin.

Gujarat Earthquakes, Floods, and Riots

On January 26, 2001, an earthquake that measured 8.1 on the Richter scale killed more than 20,000 people and destroyed a million homes. Under Gurudev’s directive, the Art of Living Foundation launched relief efforts within hours of the calamity.  After the earthquake, the Foundation built 24 homes, a multi-purpose community center, a primary healthcare center, a village government center, a primary school, a place of worship, a water tank, a water supply system and a drainage system n Dahisara Nana. A high school, dormitory and 15 temporary schools were also built for neighboring regions.

In 2002, following violent communal riots that resulted in the death of 2,000 and displacement of more than 150,000, The Art of Living Foundation launched trauma relief workshops in 25 refugee camps.

In August 2006, heavy floods in Surat, Gujarat, claimed hundreds of lives and affected thousands more. Over 1,500 volunteers provided food and emergency aid, and aided more than 11,000 people through free medical camps. The volunteers worked closely with local government officials, the army, other NGOs and service organizations, to extend assistance to affected populations, including people trapped in remote areas.

COVID-19 pandemic

During the pandemic the Art of Living and IAHV swung into response, addressing the need of the hour and in countries across the globe volunteers responded to their community needs.

Gurudev launched the campaign “iStandwithhumanity” on March 25th, days within the announcement of the lockdown in India. Gurudev’s outreach through relief material, workshops, live interactions and meditations has provided much needed solace and strength to face the unprecedented global crisis.

Disaster Relief work was done in following calamities

  • Ukraine conflict (2022)
  • COVID-19 pandemic (April 2020)
  • Odisha cyclone “Fani”, India (May 2019)
  • Kerala, India Flood Relief (August 2018)
  • Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India Flood Relief (July 2017)
  • Chennai Flood Relief (December 2015)
  • Nepal Earthquake Relief (April 2015)
  • Manila Floods (September 2009)
  • West Bengal, India and Bangladesh Floods (2009)
  • 26/11 attack in Mumbai (November 2008)
  • Bihar and Assam floods, India (September 2007)
  • Virginia Tech Campus shootings, USA (April 2007)
  • Vidarbha farmer suicides, India (2007)
  • Surat floods, Gujarat, India (August 2006)
  • Lebanon war (July 2006)
  • Mumbai train blast, India (July 2006)
  • Kashmir & Pakistan earthquake (October 2005)
  • Hurricane Katrina, USA (August 2005)
  • Mumbai floods, India (July 2005)
  • London subway blast, United Kingdom (July 2005)
  • Gujarat floods, India (June 2005)
  • Indian Ocean tsunami, India/Sri Lanka (December 2004)
  • Beslan school hostage crisis, Russia (September 2004)
  • Madrid train attack, Spain (March 2004)
  • Iraq War (2003)
  • Bam earthquake, Iran (December 2003)
  • Jakarta floods, Indonesia (February 2007 & January 2002)
  • River Elbe floods, Germany (August 2002)
  • Gujarat riots, India (2002)
  • Kosovo conflict (2002)
  • Afghanistan War (October 2001)
  • 9/11 terror attack, USA (September 2001)
  • Gujarat earthquake, India (January 2001)
  • Orissa cyclone, India (October 1999)