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Yoga Moon initiative builds better lives

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Fundraising empowers the rural community in the Tansa valley by delivering basic amenities

‘Yoga Moon’, an initiative of PRASAD Australia (Philanthropic Relief, Altruistic Service And Development Australia / www.prasadaustralia.org.au), has been working towards empowering communities in the Tansa Valley near Mumbai city in India, to help them build better lives. PRASAD Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that is committed to improving the quality of life of these economically disadvantaged people through community development programs.

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The Tansa Valley is a rural area with a population of about 200,000 rural communities.  Using funds raised through Yoga Moon, PRASAD Australia continues to support sustainable community development and health programs to help local villagers build a brighter future for themselves and their families. Over last ten years, education programs around HIV transmission have helped in reducing the transmission from mother to child by 90 percent.

The 2015 campaign is primarily focused on supporting self-help groups for women to encourage them to build economic viability for themselves and the community as a whole. The women in the communities are integral to the development of the orchards (wadi) and organic farming and their success depends on PRASAD’s support to learn basic numeracy, bookkeeping and horticultural management.

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PRASAD Australia through Yoga Moon has made a difference in the lives of Tansa valley community members, through funded projects.

A typical example can be found in Sandeep Ananta Handwa, a beneficiary of the Yoga Moon initiative. A seasonal farmer, he earned his living working in the brick kilns, when not farming. Motivated by PRASAD educational programs, he took to organic farming and developed his own wadi, a better option that utilises his farming skills and brings in a stable income. Sandeep now earns more and is much happier, satisfied and in control of his life with brighter hopes for the future of his young family.

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Another success story is that of Surekha Prakash Sirsad, who was supported and helped monetarily through her SHG (Self-help Group). She now runs and owns a beauty parlour and is delighted to have gained economic independence which has improved her status in the family.

Now in its third year, the Yoga Moon initiative is focussing on two vital community development programs – Women Self-Help Groups and Organic Farming.  The fundraising drive starts on the full moon day on July 31 and ends on August 30, the full moon. Fundraising is voluntary and administrative costs are kept to a minimum of less than one percent.

Yoga Moon has attracted a number of supporters and sponsors which include leading wellbeing products and centres, yoga leaders and equipment retailers, and local artists and jewellers such as Long Silver Thread, Rasasara, Soul Song Lifewear, Stretch Now eco Mats and many more. All sponsors and supporters offer a range of discounts on goods and services offered whenever anyone donates money to the Yoga Moon project.

Yoga Moon initiative builds better lives

Yoga Moon Jewellery was introduced in 2014 by Zara Collins, a Sydney-based artist who will donate 20 percent of all online sales during the fundraising campaign. “I am happy to assist a cause that can address social inequalities which exist in India,” stated Zara.

Devoted yoga practitioners and teachers have committed themselves to be Yoga Moon ambassadors. Among them are Michelle Jayne, a Melbourne-based yoga teacher, therapist and mentor, and Ambika Chadwick, a yoga teacher.

Ramona Lalita Yagnik runs a Kalari healing centre in Melbourne and is one of Yoga Moon sponsors, offering discount massage vouchers and martial arts passes as their contribution and encouragement for this cause. Similarly, Brenda Teh of ‘The Source Bulk Foods Prahran’ is pleased to partner with a charity whose values are synergistic with theirs.

Michael Long, founder of Stretch Now group supports Yoga Moon for the commendable work they do in improving the lives of thousands of disadvantaged people.

Speaking to The Indian Telegraph, Julie Bali from the Board of PRASAD Australia, offered a first hand account e into the progress made by the organisation, on her visit to India.

“In December 2014 and January 2015, I had the opportunity to  visit PRASAD Chikitsa’s Anukampa Health Clinic and hospital in Ganeshpuri, and to go out with field staff to visit organic farming ventures and  projects in many villages. I saw family toilets being built, health clinics and hospitals, dental services, an eye surgery operating theatre, pathology testing facilities…. Most of all, I wanted to see how clients were treated – most of whom are poor tribal people. Patients pay Rs15 for a consultation or medicine, if they can afford it.  I was moved by the gentle and respectful way in which patients were treated, and the care and thoroughness of the help provided, as well as the rigour and confidentiality of record keeping.  There was a practical nature of help provided to meet needs identified by villagers themselves.

These activities and achievements made a big impact on me, such as making clean drinking water available via low-cost, high-volume water purifiers, and assisting families to plant kitchen gardens for vegetables and herbs. A donation of A$10 helps staff provide seeds to a family and works with them to regain lost skills of keeping an edible garden that will supply greens and herbs to improve their diet.  I was heartened anew to see the enormous difference that donations to PRASAD Australia are making.”

More details on the Yoga Moon initiative can be found at  yogamoon.org.au

The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia

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