KADAM DHARMA CHANGING THE LIVES OF SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDREN
‘My name is Themba Baleni. I am the founder and Director of Fathers Connect, an organisation that connects children with their fathers and works to overcome gender based violence.
‘I was looking for spiritual help for the guys who we work with at Fathers Connect and I met Gen Pagpa. He is helping us a lot. Now I am really glad to be hosting meditation classes for the local public.’
These are the words of Themba who requested the first general program branch class in a South African township. The branch, which is based in Khayelitsha, home to over half a million people and one of the largest townships in South Africa, held its first meeting on March 17.
This is just one of the community outreach programs of Tushita KMC in Cape Town pioneered by the Resident Teacher Gen Kelsang Pagpa.
School meditation groups and more
Since 2013 Gen Pagpa, has been teaching a school meditation group in Khayelitsha township.The class has more than doubled since last year with sixty five children choosing meditation from a whole range of different extra-mural options.
In the last month, the Tushita KMC has also started giving extra-mural meditation sessions at another high school called Gardens Commercial High School.
The Centre is also currently running a four-week program at the Temple for a group of amazing children who are under the care of a local NGO called Molo Songololo, which provides support and upliftment to young people in township areas.
In their own words - what the children got from their retreat
For the last four years Tushita KMC has run a school retreat camp. The fourth camp was held over three days at the end of last year. This is what some of the children shared about their experience:
'I learned so much especially about the six perfections and now I can understand them. The practice of meditation really had an impact on my life as I had some anxiety and stress. The retreat was great. Thanks!'
'The retreat was so amazing because I learned a lot as a person and my level of thinking was enriched. I am very grateful to be given such an opportunity to learn how to better myself for the future and to be patient with where I want to be in life. The retreats are always so productive and full of information that you live by your entire life. It is always so amazing how you get to experience what you have been told in the meditation classes when you actually have to put everything you heard here into your everyday life.
Even if you don't realize, you are actually changing to be a better somebody, and people around you see that and are amazed. All in all I will always have everything in mind I gathered from meditation lessons as they made me love myself even more and to love and care for people around me.'
'I'm thankful to everyone who has made me feel welcomed here. Indeed, I am leaving wiser and much more confident to face my demons, thus I thank you.'
'I have learned how to get inner peace and be able to forgive. The activities that we did were able to unite us and some of us got confidence by being able to communicate with others.'
'We learned about the six perfections and how important it is to live up to them. We also learned how important it is to follow up your dreams and not be tempted by how others live their lives because each and every person has their own path.'
'It was nice to be here. As a person you have to have peace, share and forgiveness. I really enjoyed the activities, the place was good and lovely.'