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Empowering breakthrough for former inmates by The Art of Living

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The Art of Living Social Projects is driven by a passionate commitment to service, with dynamic volunteers addressing crucial issues under the compassionate guidance of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. In pursuit of a just and compassionate society, the Prison Rehabilitation Program initiated by The Art of Living spells hope for the often neglected community of former prison inmates. Since its inception in 2019, this transformative initiative has played a pivotal role in rehabilitating and reintegrating over 6,500 inmates across 28 prisons in India, whilst sparking profound changes in the lives of more than 8,00,000 individuals in 65 countries.

At the heart of The Art of Living’s mission lies a steadfast commitment to ethical leadership, life skills, and technical capabilities. Recognising the untapped potential within all, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the programme aims to empower them with the skills needed for sustainable livelihoods. As a certified partner of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), The Art of Living is authorised to provide NSDC certification for vocational and skill development training covering a broad spectrum of approximately 4,000 job roles across 32 sectors. Impressively, more than 5,000 inmates have received certifications, highlighting the programme’s global impact on over 800,000 lives.

A commitment that goes beyond mere skill development

Through a focus on comprehensive rehabilitation, The Art of Living exceeds conventional strategies, recognising that true transformation requires addressing both skill development and the crucial aspect of behavioural wellbeing. The Skill and Behavioural Training Programme is a comprehensive training module focused on enhancing practical skills that are applicable to various professions, ensuring that inmates are equipped with practical knowledge and expertise. The goal is to empower individuals with marketable skills, increasing their chances of successful reintegration into society post-incarceration and facilitate their reentry into society.

1. Emotional Healing with Clay

Utilising the therapeutic benefits of art, clay therapy offers self-expression and emotional healing for inmates. Through creative clay activities, emotions find a constructive outlet, fostering accomplishment and aiding in the rehabilitation process by addressing psychological challenges.

 2. Learning the Art of Beauty Behind Bars

Inmate beautician training covers beauty and wellness skills. It extends beyond technical skills, encompassing customer service, hygiene standards, and business fundamentals, fostering career opportunities post-release.

3. Unlocking Opportunities with Mobile Repair Training

Inmate mobile repair training imparts technical skills for diagnosing and fixing mobile phones, covering troubleshooting, hardware repair, software updates, and customer service. With the high demand for mobile device expertise, this programme enhances employability prospects post-incarceration.

4. Sewing for Change

Tailoring programmes focus on imparting sewing and garment-making skills to inmates. Participants learn to use sewing machines, create patterns, and stitch garments. Tailoring skills not only offer a pathway to employment but also provide a means for inmates to develop a sense of accomplishment.

5. Empowering with Electrical Skills

Inmate training covers wiring, circuitry, and safety, paving the way for entry-level positions in the electrical field. It also emphasises safety protocols, ensuring that participants are knowledgeable about best practices in electrical work.

6. Mastery over Sports Equipment

Sports equipment training involves teaching inmates to create, repair, and maintain various sports equipment. This hands-on programme not only provides vocational skills related to sports equipment production but also fosters teamwork.

7. Cultivating Growth through Gardening

Gardening programmes focus on horticultural skills, teaching inmates how to cultivate and care for plants. Participants learn about soil preparation, planting, watering, and general garden maintenance. Beyond the vocational aspect, gardening has therapeutic benefits, promoting a connection with nature and instilling a sense of responsibility for the environment.

8. Hope through Handicrafts

Inmate training in weaving, pottery, and manual arts fosters creativity, fine motor skills, and attention to detail, paving the way for potential income and pride in craftsmanship.

A Glimpse of Two Initiatives, with Many More Behind the Scenes

Since 2005, The Art of Living’s Prison Rehabilitation Program has provided training to over thousands of inmates at Sajiwa and Manipur Central Jails. The primary emphasis has been on addressing the needs of the ‘victim inside every culprit crying out for help.’ Male and female inmates alike have participated in these programmes. Notably, even during the challenges of the Covid pandemic in 2022, the initiative continued. It extended its reach to inmates facing serious charges and those associated with insurgent movements, offering them a fresh perspective on achieving their goals through peaceful and democratic means. Some individuals from these programmes have become active inspirations, encouraging others to embrace the path of peace.

Several prisons, including the Central Jail in Srinagar and Kot Balwal Prison in Jammu, have witnessed the positive impact of The Art of Living’s interventions. Noteworthy initiatives include the establishment of an electrical lab at Srinagar Jail, a tailoring unit, and a Digital Literacy Training Program. Additionally, the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) Special Project in Srinagar Jail has further expanded the scope of capacity and livelihood training for inmates.

The Art of Living has not just provided practical skills for thousands of inmates to secure sustainable livelihoods but has also nurtured a sense of responsibility and positive change. As the organisation persists in its unwavering efforts it remains a driving force of hope for individuals yearning for a second chance at a meaningful life beyond the confines of prison walls.

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