1 May to 20 May, India.
Continuing the crusade 200 years ago by Lord Swaminarayan against the vices of society, Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the sadhus have been perenially inspiring people to give up addictions. This summer a special campaign was organized by the Children's Forum through the inspiration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. From 1 May to 20 May, 10,000 members of the BAPS Children's Forum embarked upon a 20-day de-addiction campaign in Gujarat and other cities. The scorching summer heat and the challenges of personal contact did not deter them from setting out to redeem smokers and addicts from the vice-grip of addictions.
Facts and Figures
In only 20 -days children volunteers had accomplished a tremendous feat in personal contact during the campaign.
* Total boys and girls: 10,000
* Number of people contacted: 882,000
* Number of people who have given up addictions
from 882,000 contacts: 312,000
* Combined total savings of 312,000 people: Rs. 2,500,000 per day
* Cultural program seen by: 800,000
* Anti-addiction exhibition seen by: 400,000
NB: The number of people who have given up addictions during cultural program and anti-addiction exhibition are not available.
11,000 people die everyday of smoking related diseases in the world.
This growing scourge of smoking is also destroying the moral and social fabric of society. Pramukh Swami Maharaj says, "It is a purchased misery." To stem the habit, in whatever little way, the BAPS National Children's Forum launched a de-addiction campaign in Mumbai, Calcutta and major cities of Gujarat. The 20-day programme, inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, was launched on 1 May. In all, 10,000 children in 2,500 groups from the ages of 9 - 14, with four children and one leader to a group, utilised their vacation period in weaning people from the vices of smoking, drinking, pan-chewing, snuff taking and drugs. The anti-addiction campaign included: (1) A personal one to one approach, (2) Cultural Program and Drama presentation, (3) Anti-addiction rally and (4) Poster exhibition. Their personal visits to homes, railway stations, offices, hospitals, diamond workshops and hut communities have evoked an array of interesting responses and experiences.
To face the challenges of the mission they were trained at all local centers, armed with logical explanations and answers. The boys and girls donned in white clothes, carried a shoulder bag containing pictorial booklets and an all-in one murti. Each day they campaigned from 9.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. They politely approached people saying, "We belong to the Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha and have been inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj to help people give up addictions. Do you have any addictions?" When a person took an oath, details of his habits and address were noted. After 15 days, a 5-day period was reserved for a follow-up programme. The persons concerned were contacted and an enquiry made about their pledges.
An emotionally and practically effective drama called, "Kafan' was performed by youth and child volunteers in more than 1000 villages of Gujarat. 800,000 people saw the program and many had vowed to shun addictions.
From the small villages to the mega cities of Gujarat and Maharashtra anti-addiction rallies made their mark on the general masses. More than 2000 children participated in a colorful, spirited rally on the main streets of Mumbai.
To pay tribute to the efforts of children, the Governor of Gujarat, H.E. Sundersinh Bhandari, honored the BAPS with a certificate of appreciation during a public function at the Gujarat Cancer Research Society in Amdavad.
In conclusion, the campaign has enriched children with confidence, presentation skills and a spirit of service to society. The de-addiction program is now focussed on schools. Members of the Children's Forum have already started visiting schools to inspire teenagers to stay away or give up gutka and smoking.