1. A Peace Centre which has a Shrine where those afflicted with the above-mentioned problems will learn to pray and turn to God for help. The Peace Centre is decorated with beautiful pictures of exotic birds, animals, scenic wonders with inspiring and uplifting sayings by Sri Swami Sivananda. Daily Ganga Arati and prayer service also takes place.
2. Counselling rooms where youth receive guidance on how to overcome bad habits.
3. A hall where regular Sunlit Path Programmes are conducted. The hall also serves as an indoor sports facility, giving youth the opportunity to play sport rather than take to bad habits.
4. A Computer Training Centre to teach computer literacy so that unemployed persons may acquire skills and earn a livelihood.
5. A Sewing School that teaches sewing skills so that unemployed persons can find employment in this field, or even start their own business.
6. Dining room & kitchen.
7. A Library with instructive and inspiring books.
8. Living quarters for resident supervisors.
9. An Alternate Health Remedies Clinic operates at the Centre.
10. Once a week, a programme is conducted for senior citizens.
Apart from the overcoming programmes, all activities at the Centre will be directed towards helping youth. Indoor sports, youth conferences, talks, plays, film shows, documentaries, etc. will be planned with this in mind.
The Centre is managed entirely by Divine Life Society of South Africa, in the same manner as the Sivananda Ghat is managed. Guidelines for the Centre's functioning were given by Pujya Swamiji as early as 2006. Strict levels of discipline and conduct are observed at the Centre, in keeping with the rules observed at the Society's Ashrams and at the Sivananda Ghat.
1. The Centre has trained devotees to counsel children on how to keep away from drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, etc. Instructors will also help youth and Spiritual Darlings deal with depression and suicidal tendencies which are very serious problems in areas such as Chatsworth.
2. They will receive extremely valuable literature written by Sri Swami Sivananda and Sri Swami Sahajananda that will guide them and teach them coping skills. The literature has universal appeal, and the teachings can be followed by adults and Spiritual Darlings of other faiths also, like Islam and Christianity.
3. The booklet, Bringing up Spiritual Darlings gives informative instructions to parents on how to guide and bring up their Spiritual Darlings. The term "Spiritual Darling" was used by the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, when he addressed children.
4. The booklet, Pathway to Peace & Happiness also contains valuable information on a variety of subjects, like the evils of gambling, liquor habits, how hostile forces create accidents, suicides, calamities, etc.
5. Pathway to Peace & Happiness is having a great impact on bereaved families who come to Sivananda Ghat, next to the Clare Estate Crematorium, to dispose of ashes of their beloved ones. Hundreds of people are turning to God by visiting the Ghat and reading the spiritual literature. A shrine of Christ is installed there because Christians are also resorting to cremation. Any number of tributes are being paid by those visiting the Ghat. They make their comments in writing, praising the Ghat for its divine, serene atmosphere. The comment invariably made is that the Ghat is "heaven on earth".
6. The most important instruction will be how they should turn to God for protection against bad habits, that God is their Friend, Mother and Father. Daily prayer will be highlighted and emphasised as the most important instruction.
7. Spiritual Darlings will be taught to maintain a diary to monitor their habits.Their diaries will be scrutinised once a fortnight or once a month and suitable awards given to them.
8. Maybe, once every six months or so, a graduation ceremony will be held where all the Spiritual Darlings who have maintained a spiritual diary and successfully overcome their bad habits will receive awards.
9. Spiritual Darlings who have overcome their bad habits and are fully trained will become ambassadors of the Centre and help to protect and advise other Spiritual Darlings on how to triumph over the bad habits mentioned above.
10. Instructions will be given about right diet for Spiritual Darlings and their parents to help combat their problems.
In 2006, Pujya Swami Sahajananda initiated the Sivananda Sunlit Path Programme to assist youth to cope with social evils such as drug & alcohol abuse, gambling, etc. and those suffering with depression and contemplating suicide. Numerous programmes have been conducted throughout the province, and over 1 700 children have signed a pledge to stay away from the above-mentioned social evils. They have now become members of the prestigious Sunlit Club, and receive a free supply of a quarterly magazine, Sunlit Path, which contains helpful articles written by Sri Swami Sivananda to help them in their daily lives. Daily prayer and turning to God for help are the main themes of the programme.
Sivananda Sunlit Path Centre
When a beautiful property in Chatsworth was donated to the Society by the Vedanta Mission in 2006, Pujya Swami Sahajananda decided that it will be the home of the Sivananda Sunlit Club, aimed at assisting youth afflicted with the above-mentioned problems.
Construction commenced in 2009, and the Centre was opened in April 2011. Although its primary focus is assisting youth, the Centre also comprises a Prayer Hall with a Peace Centre and Ganga Rani, an indoor sports centre, counselling rooms where youth having problems with drugs & alcohol, depression with suicidal tendencies, etc. are given assistance, an alternate remedies clinic, a sewing training centre, computer training centre, soya milk making facility, organic vegetable gardens and residential quarters.
The counselling of those afflicted with drug related problems is based on the teachings of the Divine Master and Pujya Swami Sahajananda. The approach is purely spiritual. Youth are given guidelines and a spiritual diary to fill in, as well as literature to help them with their problems. Those seeking assistance with the above-mentioned problems may call at the centre from Monday - Friday between 9am and 4pm.
The skills training centres equip the unemployed with skills that will help them to secure jobs. Skills are taught in sewing, computer literacy, organic gardening and soya milk-making. Weekly programmes are also conducted for senior citizens.
Divine Life Society of SA projects (1974-2010)
Most of the projects listed here have been undertaken by Divine Life Society of South Africa for the poor and disadvantaged in deep rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. To read more about the nature of these projects, please click here. Pictures of some of the recent projects can be viewed below the Projects List. Most of the projects are undertaken in partnership with Municipalities or Government Departments. Some have been funded fully by the Society.
1. At Umgababa, the Gozololo Children's Home comprising 3 blocks, including a residential block, was established in partnership with the Miriam Cele Centre.
2. In 2005, fifty computers were installed in Computer Training Centres in Stanger, Estcourt and Richards Bay.
3. A joint venture with the Ministry of Sport resulted in the creation of an Olympic-size swimming pool in Ulundi. It is the only public swimming facility in Ulundi.
4. Traditional African Handicraft Centres: 7 such centres were built in 2002 as part of a self-help initiative in rural areas.
5. Two Community Halls were built in the Umlalazi Municipality in 2008.
6. Liberal financial contributions were also made to about 40 temple organisations and institutions in South Africa, as well as numerous institutions abroad.
School Feeding Scheme
Everyday sandwiches are prepared and delivered to schools by devotees of the Society. About 2000 needy children of all races are provided with sandwiches daily.
Several hydroponics projects have been set up for charitable institutions to raise funds. These are at Spes Nova School (Phoenix), Crisis Care Centre (Hillcrest), Natal Blind & Deaf Society (Pietermaritzburg) and V.N. Naik School for the Deaf (Newlands). Vegetables grown at these gardens are of excellent quality and provide the centres with opportunities to raise funds.
The Society undertook two large housing projects. In the late 1990's, 181 low cost homes were built for displaced Indians and Africans at Waterloo near Verulam.
In 2006, the Society embarked on a major housing project at Parkgate, also near Verulam. Phase 1 & 2 of this project saw 346 homes built and allocated to displaced Indians and Africans for occupation. Phase 3 of the Project, consisting of and additional 39 houses, has now begun. In total, 385 low cost houses will be built at Parkgate.
Old Age Homes
In keeping with the teachings of the Master, the Society interacts with and assists all religious groups. When an appeal was made for providing accommodation for the aged at the Christian Care Centre in KwaMashu, the Society erected a large complex consisting of 36 rooms.
The Abalindi Welfare Society takes care of the aged in the rural area of Inanda. It is led by Rev. Arthur Sibisi. Divine Life Society adopted Abalindi Welfare Society for about 10 years from 1979, building a spacious dining hall, kitchen, pantry and two dormitories. The blocks for these new buildings were made by the members of the Abalindi Welfare Society in their yard. A feeding programme was also commenced to cater for the needs of nearly 500 people. The Indian stall-holders of the Durban Municipal Market generously provided the vegetables free of charge for nearly three years. Surplus cement blocks were sold to Divine Life Society for its school building projects. In 1986 another four dormitories were constructed, and the kitchen was equipped with modern cooking facilities, providing succour for the disabled and aged people of Inanda.
The Abalindi Welfare Society is now on its own feet, a well-organized relief unit, self-sufficient in operation, in the midst of a poor rural African community.
In 1993 the Folweni Learning Centre in the Umlazi region was constructed by the Isipingo Rotary Club. The Club approached Divine Life Society to participate in the newly created community facility. A large number of women in the neighborhood were unemployed.
The Society, through the kind help of its many patrons and well-wishers throughout the country, donated 20 motorized sewing machines, 10 Olivetti typewriters, 25 hand-operated sewing machines and one copying machine to the institution.
At Ntuzuma, another poverty-stricken area in the north of Durban, a similar need was identified. The St. John Apostolic Mission, under the direction of Rev. Khumalo, was doing its best to serve the local community. The Society worked closely with this organisation. Four typewriters were donated to it. A sewing centre was started with an initial donation of 10 hand-operated machines, since there was no electricity in the area during that time.
At the Umlazi Technical College, a modern sewing centre has been constructed by the Society and is being efficiently run by the College. The Society donated 30 sewing machines to the College.
The first of all sewing centres built by the Society was at Esikhaweni, near Empangeni. This centre, which is being run by the KwaZulu-Natal Government, provides training for about 100 women. The Society also donated 25 electric sewing machines to the centre.
In 2004, Pujya Swamiji decided that the Society administer sewing centres at its Ashrams. The Society currently administers five sewing schools which house 103 industrial and overlock sewing machines. The Administration Centre is located at Sivanandashram, Havenside, Chatsworth. Two other centres are run at our Ashrams in Merebank and Pietermaritzburg. A centre in Tongaat is managed by the Shree Veeraboga Emperumal Temple. The centre at Newlands West is managed by the Sai Organisation, Durban Region, Newlands.
Training is provided mainly to unemployed adults by qualified trainers who are paid by the Society. Training extends for six weeks, eight hours per day. Certificates are awarded to all â€œgraduatesâ€. Since the inception of this project in 2004, 2300 certificates have been issued. Almost all graduates have been absorbed into the industrial sector.
Trainees are provided with an opportunity of securing a free sewing machine, provided they sell a minimum number of garments sewn at their centre. To this end about 2000 sewing machines were purchased.
The concept of the Peace & Skills Training Centres began as a poverty alleviation project in 2006. Basic skills like sewing, computing and bead-making are being taught at these centres.
The first Peace & Skills Training Centre was built at Gamalakhe, near Port Shepstone early in 2006. To date, 35 Peace & Skills Training Centres in various parts of KwaZulu-Natal have been completed.
The Centres are playing a vital role in serving the needs of the communities in which they are built. Each Centre comprises a large hall designed to accommodate 40 sewing machines, a computer room and a Peace Centre. The Societyâ€™s policy is to install sewing machines and computers at all the Centres.
The Society offers to provide free accommodation and training to two prospective trainers from each centre in sewing skills. The Computer Centre will provide the youth and others with training in operating computers. Thirdly, the Peace Centre with its most beautiful colourful pictures of exotic birds, flowers, animals, scenic wonders, etc., with inspiring sayings in Zulu and English from the writings of our Divine Master will educate and uplift the people. Especially, school children enjoy reading highly educative instructions in English and in Zulu. There are sayings for the Junior learners as well as Senior learners. The Peace Centre will also help those with problems and conflicts to sit here and solve their differences.