In 2023, we worked ̉with a mental health organisation to take a few workshops with the young girls in our community on ‘Compassion and Resilience’, informed by Buddhist philosophy. We were astounded at the kinds of insights our girls were able to arrive at by working with their own emotions, and contemplating on the truth of others’ lives. The experience led them to a deep sense of peace and understanding about the challenges in their own lives. It is this work that we would like to expand further. Project FORE hopes to build an ecosystem in our community that enables empathy, connectedness and a sense of purpose in the young, allowing them to consolidate their own capacity for compassion, resilience and peace while helping others build theirs. His Holiness The Dalai Lama has often said that the most selfish act is to be unselfish – since it is the immersion in the self and ego that gives birth to suffering. We also believe that it is in strengthening the community and the ‘WE’ that we build well-being.

Implemented by

Mahashakti Seva Kendra (MSK) is a non-profit organization based in Central India, with a strong community of  nearly 2000 members, most of whom are women from castes that have historically been structurally excluded. 

MSK began working in 1993 with the survivors of possibly the first major environmental disaster in India caused by corporate negligence (the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy). Slowly, the community has built itself back, despite the debilitating loss of lives and livelihoods, demonstrating not just resilience, but also enterprise. We have played a very small part in this story – our work with the community has focussed on building leadership in women to help them access their rights, take back their sense of agency and to gain financial independence by creating sustainable livelihood options. 

As we step into our 4th decade of working with the community, we are now shifting our focus to the young. Their challenges are very different from the earlier generation of women we have worked with. Many of the old ties of the community are withering, and the ‘individual’ has taken centre stage – ironically, leading to the young boys and girls of the community feeling inadequate to deal with the regular trials of life. 

In this context, our work has shown the need to build inner resources for youngsters on the one hand, as well as a strengthening of their links in the community on the other. Under the grant received from the Mind and Life Institute, it is this that we shall concentrate on, using contemplative practices derived from the community, and in close association with the mental health initiative in India, The Red Door. 

This, we believe, is pioneering work and will demonstrate ways to build inner strength and resilience in young adults in contexts similar to ours in the global south.