Centro Educaco Neo Humanista Ananda Marga
A Neohumanist School in the Brazilian Amazon
By Taís Monteiro de Freitas
One of the most important themes of Neohumanist Education is the importance of taking care of animals and nature. This knowledge is taken very seriously at CENHAMAR, Centro Educaco Neo Humanista Ananda Marga which is located in a rain forest, where nature is abundant and where there is the greatest biodiversity in the world, but also where devastation is running fast, like a tractor passing over an ancient culture with its rich values of cooperation with nature. I spent 20 days observing the work that happens on the outskirts of the city of Belém, the capital of the state of Pará where many lack basic infrastructure like sewage, water and electricity.
CENHAMAR is an island in the middle of the desert; the place is clean and healthy. Before the beginning of classes all 40 children make a Circle of Love together, sing and meditate for a few minutes. They love to talk about nature. Neohumanism is concretely developed through the observation of nature, its care, and preserving the indigenous culture. Work is also done with the surrounding community. We can gradually see the result of the work; for example there is a reduction in bird hunting and cages.
Children, ages 2-7, have been attending this school since 2004. They receive a lot of love and affection and are offered healthy snacks every day. Many are children from parents who are sanitation workers and families that suffer from lack of various basic necessities. Many children come with emotional problems from their home, and experience the school as their home.
Lucia Rodrigues is the great leader of this project, but it would not be possible without the help of Dada Nirvedananda and the network of friends of Belém. Their involvement is daily, from the food to be served in the children’s snacks. Lucia often goes to her own home refrigerator when something is missing as her house is next to the school. Teachers are completely involved in the mission of the school. Sometimes events in the community affect the school as it is located in a dangerous region with traffic and police presence as everyone is affected by violent actions.
A place such as this school changes the lives of children and consequently of families, as it gives them a referential point of ethical and moral values. It is transformative in the face of the total neglect and lack of public policies. My way of contributing was through a day of activities with the teachers. Sensorial exercises of awareness were done, research on our self portrait through art education, and we talked about the principles of Neohumanist Education, including the theme of the Circle of Creation. If there is any interest to know more about the school and to get to know the work, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.