Sri Sri's Unique approach of facilitating outer peace through individual empowerment has effected long-lasting change in conflict hotspots across the world. This approach, combined with self development programs, the principle of non-violence, dialogue and rehabilitation programs, has helped every section of society, from militants and estranged youth to victims and security forces, transforming hate, bitterness and violence into joy.
Rebuilding Strife Torn Iraq
According to the 2007 Failed States Index, Iraq is the second-most unstable country in the world, traumatized by continuing violence, and the loss of property and people. Since September 2003, more than 5000 people in Baghdad, Basra, Suleymania and Karbala have participated in the Art of Living Foundation's Trauma Relief program. In 2006, inspired by the program's benefits, 43 people from these regions volunteered to become program instructors. There are now 50 Art of Living instructors and 150 registered volunteers in the country.
In 2005, the Foundation launched the Iraq Women's Empowerment Program, which has benefited an estimated 500 Iraqi women. The project, which is gaining increasing popularity in the community, provides self development programs and vocation training in word processing and tailoring to Iraqi women.
On May 22, 2007, His Holiness accepted the Iraq government's invitation to embark on a three-day visit to Iraq as an ambassador of peace, and became the first Indian spiritual leader to visit the country. The Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, emphasized that the Art of Living Foundation has played a key role in rebuilding Iraq, and invited to initiate the Art of Living Prison Rehabilitation Program in the country's jails.
During his visit, we also held dialogue with youth ministers, members of the parliament, and leaders of the three opposing factions (Shias, Sunnis and Kurds), urging them to give non-violence and peace a chance. As an outcome of the visit, in August 2007, 55 Iraqi youth from Baghdad, Basra, Suleymania, Karbala, and Najaf traveled to Bangalore for the month-long Youth Leadership Training Program and graduated as youth leaders.
Equipping Youth with Tools of Non-Violence
There is anger and hatred all around Iraq. Iraqis need to learn how to manage anger and reconcile with the present. This requires a shift in the mind and a change of heart. Thats where spirituality has a big role to play. We are working to facilitate this process. - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
"We welcome your delegation with open arms and hearts. We welcome you as our brother and we are ready to work hand in hand with you."
- Shia leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Yaqubi
"We knew only death and despair. Now we can smile, and that is the greatest gift that Sri Sri has given us."
- Shafiqur Rehman, a trauma-relief program participant