Neohumanist Preschool, Caracas, Venezuela

By Avtk. Ananda Amegha Ac.

The Neohumanist Preschool in Caracas, Venezuela, started in October of 2003 with one student, with the assistance of Niilima. We soon reached out to the area adjacent to the preschool where there are several barrios with low income families. Our education project soon turned into a social service project, when we realized none of the parents from the barrios could afford to pay a regular private school fee. In the end we had 48 children attending our preschool, more than half of them free of charge. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful experience. We got a great director who implemented our neohumanist philosophy in the day-to-day interaction with the teachers, children and parents. Most of the teachers learned meditation and every day we did yoga and meditation with the children. We also had many artists volunteering activities with the children, such as dance, painting, theatre, etc. Over the years a lot of children, new teachers and parents have passed through the school, each one leaving their trace, and carrying with them the seed of Neohumanist philosophy and practice when they leave for a new destination.

Due to the political changes in Venezuela, there also have been many changes in the laws regarding education and private schools and due to the new laws, I had to let go of our excellent director, since her studies were in psycho pedagogy and not specifically in preschool education. Also economically it has become extremely tough to maintain the school. Due to the extremely high inflation rate in the country, the constant devaluation of the Venezuelan currency and a parallel economy which functions with a blackmarket dollar, most people cannot afford private education anymore. So every year the same question has arisen: Should we keep up a school that is incurring financial loss? And every year we have made the same decision: Yes, because Venezuela and the world needs more neohumanistic schools where children learn to become responsible members of society, with a universal outlook and love in their hearts for themselves and all creation.

Day of Water. 15 volunteers came from Caracas,several hundred people attended. The school-children from the area participated and presenteddances and different activities related to waterconservation. In the morning we did recycling and artactivities with the children and gave a talk aboutvegetarianism and in the afternoon we had a musicconcert with variousgroups and distributed storybookswhich we had received from a government institution.

This year is very special. It is a turning point in the history of our school. We have decided to buy the building where we run the preschool. This will enable us to repair and renovate the building so it is more suitable for the children. It also ensures that the project will continue for many years to come. I feel like we are embarking on a new and adventurous journey, and trusting in the divine providence, that if the goal is to create a bright future for the children and society, there surely will be the support of the universe in this mission. The fundraising to buy the building has just started. The total investment in purchasing the building is US$135,000. The initial down payment is coming from the income of our Indian store here in Caracas, but we still have to raise most of the money needed. This last year we had 33 paying children; our goal is to reach self sufficiency of the school in the next few years.

Thanks go to all of our staff, our new director Gaorii, and our four teachers. They have all learned meditation and at present are receiving our yearly Neohumanist Education training. Madalsa is in charge of cooking all the delicious vegetarian meals. She is a solid rock when it comes to defending our vegetarian diet and neohumanist philosophy. The children and staff love her food. Harinath has been involved in this project from the very start and has donated endless hours in administrative work and helping to resolve any existing problem. Many thanks also to Steve and Peggy Baker who have over the years supported unconditionally both the Preschool and Master units we have in Venezuela, and to all the other supporters. This last year we had the contribution of two volunteers, Malinii from Sweden who cheered up everybody with her spontaneous positive energy, and Dharmamitra from Venezuela who is an environmentalist and established our recycling project. They were a driving force in maintaining our neohumanist standard. For more information, please write to: