*Shramadana* means “sharing work, knowledge, talents, and time.” The aim of the Movement is to use shared work, voluntary giving and sharing of resources to achieve the personal and social awakening of everyone ~ from the individual, to the village, and continuing up to the international level.
‘Awakening’ means developing human potential, and is a comprehensive process taking place on the spiritual, moral, cultural, social, economic and political levels. Sarvodaya strives for a model of society in which there is neither poverty nor excessive affluence. The movement’s holistic approach is based on Buddhist principles (including goodness, sympathy, and tranquility) and on the Gandhian values of truthfulness, nonviolence, and self-sacrifice.
*The five evolutionary stages of a village*
To fulfill its ambitions to develop human potential and to achieve widespread social effectiveness, the movement is working with a participatory approach in nearly 15,000 villages on the island. The program is adjusted to the specific social, cultural, and religious conditions in each region. At the same time, all of the villages go through five stages of evolution or ï¿½awakening.ï¿½
* *Stage 1*: Inquiry from the village and organization of an introductory _shramadana_ camp for the village, during which problems are analyzed together and needs identified.
* *Stage 2*: Establishment of various groups (children’s, youngstersï¿½, mothers’ and farmers’ groups), construction of a child development center, and training of staff.
* *Stage 3*: Program for meeting the basic needs and setting up institutions (including the founding of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Society, which is responsible for the village’s development initiatives);
* *Stage 4*: Measures to produce income and employment; establishment of complete self-reliance and self-financing;
* *Stage 5*: Support for other village communities.
The approach is designed in such a way that ten villages are always grouped around a pioneering village that has already reached the fifth stage. These villages cooperate, and the groups of ten are linked to one another in turn at the district and national levels, so as to be able to implement common projects such as a regional water supply. The aim is that the villages should be able to manage themselves as a community – to be organized, self-reliant, and able to act independently.
*Awakening through meeting basic needs*
The Sarvodaya Movement has identified ten elementary and basic needs. Satisfying those means, liberating the spirit from its own limitations and from unequal socioeconomic conditions, and thereby developing human potential in the Buddhist sense.
These basic needs are:
* A clean and beautiful environment
* Adequate provision of clean drinking water
* Minimal supplies of clothing
* Adequate and balanced nutrition
* Simple housing
* Basic health care
* Basic communication facilities
* A minimal supply of energy
* Holistic education
* Satisfaction of intellectual and cultural needs
This list illustrates Sarvodaya’s comprehensive approach to social development. It highlights not only economic and social needs, but also spiritual, moral, and cultural requirements such as cultural programs and village libraries.
*Activities involved in village development*
The activities carried out in these three stages of evolution can be divided into ten areas:
# Capacity building in the community
# Early childhood development
# Community Health
# Relief and rehabilitation
# Development of village infrastructure
# Environment and biodiversity
# Communication development
# Development of integrated education
# Applied research
# Peace work and youth work
As the first step, measures are carried out jointly that will unify the village community in its development efforts. Village streets are built, wells are repaired, and information about the village’s general needs is collected on a participatory basis. Further activities then include training in the areas of management, leadership, and organizational development, both for nursery school teachers and health-care personnel. In addition, there are seminars on home economics, nutrition, sexuality and health for young people, and library management.
All of these activities are accompanied by meditative reflection on the problems to be solved and the solutions to be developed. This reflects the Eastern, Buddhist nature of the movement. Reflection opens up deeper insights and hidden relationships, encouraging a receptive attitude; listening and thinking become tools for discovery. A harmonious relationship between receptiveness and sensitive activity reduces the risk that overlooked, underestimated, or neglected matters might give rise to counter forces that could later disturb or ruin the efforts altogether.
*Special aspects of the program*
A factor vital to success is the provision of explicit support both to young people and to older people. One way in which this can be done is involving young people in the activities and giving them the corresponding responsibilities. This strengthens their identification with the village community and their motivation to collaborate with development efforts. It is mainly young people who are trained to become organizers for village development or members of the Peace Corps. They receive access at the same time to information in the fields of health (sexuality, drugs, suicide prevention), communications (Internet, library access), and environmental protection while cultural and sporting events are also organized.
In addition, dialogue between young people and older people is very much encouraged in the community. This is based on the conviction that comprehensive development requires both the creativity and energy of young people and the wisdom of older people. Seminars are therefore held on cooperation between the generations, or on older people’s needs and ways of providing support for them.
In view of the continuing civil war, Sarvodaya’s efforts in the field of peace education, conflict resolution and conflict prevention, as well as international understanding, are highly important. Here, too, the emphasis is on children and young people, since they are the ones who will soon be determining the country’s future. In addition to arranging discussions on peace and faith between villagers and religious communities, young people are trained to become members of a peace corps that conducts conflict resolution and conflict prevention activities in the villages – particularly between members of different religious communities, such as Tamils and Sinhalese.
Finally, Sarvodaya’s development efforts are not restricted to meeting basic needs such as clean drinking water, housing and access to basic education and health services. In the light of social ‘awakening’ and the development of human potential, the movement also strives to achieve social and political participation for the beneficiaries. This goal is seen in the comprehensive educational and training measures aimed at developing capacities and abilities that can allow self-determined and responsible development. In addition, the involvement of nearly 15,000 villages means that a certain amount of social and political participation is also taking place at the national level. This ‘critical mass’ – one-third of all the villages in Sri Lanka are involved in the Sarvodaya movement – favors social change, and therefore has an effect on national development. The Sarvodaya model has in fact already influenced national policy strategies in certain areas such as health and education.