Mrs S. Naidoo, Deputy Principal of Acaciavale Primary accorded a welcome to all and stated that this workshop should not only make a difference in the lives of learners but also the lives of others with whom they come into contact with.
We informed learners at the outset that the purpose of this workshop was to build a great world for all young people. Many of our youth have moved away from achieving their true potential and so the Sunlit Path team had to turn to the wisdom of the great Saints to guide them in their quest to help afflicted learners. We reminded learners that they are the leaders of tomorrow and that the path they take will shape their destiny. Our presenter summarised the contents of the initial programme where we spoke at length about the harmful effects of drugs and other social ills, prayer, affirmations, service, exercise, diet, tonics, silent sitting, introspection, gratitude and keeping a diary. All vital tools to enable them to maintain the resolves they made at the initial workshop in August 2017.
We are grateful to our Guest Speaker, Dr N. Balkaran, Senior Education Specialist in the Kwa-Zulu-Education Department (Uthukela District) for taking time off from her duties to share precious thoughts on how to eradicate the scourge of drug addiction. Using a power-point presentation effectively, she showed on the screen how the facial features of addicts changed over the years through the disastrous effects of drug addiction. Premature aging and death, unpleasant scars and dreadful sores, are some of the pictures that shocked learners. She narrated true cases of addicts who died a miserable death and of others who were unwanted and scorned by society. Truly, learners would do well to heed the advice proffered by Dr Balkaran.
The play, "Sunlit Path will take you closer to God" which encapsulated the major themes of the initial workshop on 18 August 2017, was well enacted by our Rishikumars (full-time residents of our Ashram). During the breakaway session, they brainstormed the following: "What is Prayer? Why should we resort to prayer when we encounter a difficulty in life? What are some of the ways to get rid of depression? How will forgiveness and gratitude help one to overcome depression? TV programmes with undesirable scenes should be avoided. Why? Do you agree? What is celibacy and why is it important? How can one benefit from practising celibacy? Why is suicide not an option?" Judging from the animated discussion, one can say that they enjoyed sharing their thoughts with each other. A very significant statement was made by one of the learners during the report back session: "If there is a problem and an argument ensues, walk away and be silent." We should all follow this advice.
In the section on the importance of the Diary and Checklist, we reiterated that the diary is a reminder of their daily actions. They were urged to introspect, detect their mistakes and weaknesses and try not to make the same mistakes again. In this way the diary will help them to build their character, to develop sympathy and love for others. Try not to hurt the feelings of others, they were told. The biblical statement, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" made them realise the importance of respecting all.
During the evaluation session we received positive feedback. Herewith, some of the responses:
1. I learnt that we must do a lot of exercise to release stress, depression, etc.
2. We don't have to pray sometimes, we have to pray all the time, so God can answer our prayers all the time. We should never lose hope because God always answers our prayers.
3. I learnt that we should not have sex before marriage and that committing suicide is not the best way to solve our problems.
4. After the workshop, my mind developed into something new. I have now started to think differently and I have learnt a lot of new things.
5. I must stay away from people who do the wrong things.
6. This programme taught us about how we can solve our problems and it prepares us for the future. I really enjoyed this programme.
We concluded with the Theme Song: No Harm will come to you. Learners joyfully song as a healthy competitive developed. The workshop concluded with a silent sitting, a coping skill which they were taught at the initial workshop in August 2017 which reinforced the value of drawing the Grace and bliss of God through silent sitting.
Our deep gratitude to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and the founder of the Sunlit Club, Sri Swami Sahajananda for making this function possible. Gratitude to the principals of Ladysmith Secondary, Windsor Secondary and Acaciavale Primary for allowing learners to attend this workshop during school hours. We cherish the fervent hope that this workshop will also result in improved academic performance. Thanks to the Department of Education for granting permission for the workshop to be conducted during school hours. Special thanks to Mrs S. Naidoo (Deputy Principal of Acaciavale Primary) for her welcome address and our Guest Speaker, Dr N. Balkaran. Perhaps this report would be incomplete if we do not express our sincere thanks to Mr A. Govender, Principal, Ladysmith Secondary for the pivotal role he played on behalf of Divine Life Society of S.A. in securing the hall, hiring the sound system, obtaining the necessary furniture, getting sponsors for breakfast and lunch and consenting to allow his learners to prepare refreshments and serve them in a highly professional manner. Ladysmith owes a debt of gratitude to Mr Govender.