Guiding and directing the youth in their life’s journey has been one of the main concerns of the Society of Jesus right from the early days of its inception. That concern helped in giving birth to Jeevan Prawesh (Life Orientation Programme) in Gumla, a place famous for its sports activities. Since then, the Jeevan Prawesh programmes have touched, shaped and moulded the life of thousands of youth of different faiths. The animators have inspired, challenged and supported all the youth that participated in the programmes.
With the help of well experienced and well coordinated team Jeevan Prawesh carries on the good work of guiding thousands of youth. At present, the team of animators consists of three members: a nun from the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Anne, Ranchi, a layman and a Jesuit priest who functions as its programme director.
Mode of Programme
Traditionally, Jeevan Pravesh has been conducting five-day residential Orientation Programme as seminars and workshop in different schools. However, time, circumstances and needs have changed. School management finds it difficult to spare the whole week for the programme and parents also do not like to keep their children away from home for a week. Practical difficulties related to infrastructure like the lack of accommodation, toilet facilities, constant supervision and security, provision for meals and other issues make the animators innovative and they conduct the programme according to the specific context of each school. In some places the number of days for the programme is reduced. But the impacts of these different sets of seminars are different on the participants depending on the time allotted for them. Usually, the Class X students participated in the Jeevan Prawesh programmes but many schools have upgraded to the Higher Secondary level and therefore the school authorities like to have the programmes together for boys and girls of Class XI and XII in co-educational schools.
Jeevan Prawesh should not be construed as a youth conclave or a youth get-together for mere fun and celebration. It is not even a programme to impart loads of information to the participants; rather, it offers time for prayer, guided mediation and other guided activities including the sacrament of reconciliation. These activities lead the participants to tranquility in the depth of hearts where in peaceful silence each participant begins to discover within himself or herself as to “who s/he is.” Of course, discovering all the vice and virtues, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses in a very short duration of five days might not be easy. But surely, this is one successful step of a great leap in one’s personal life. Therefore, it needs absolute patience and a careful attention of the animators to observe the communication of the participants – it may be verbal or in action. They need to make painstaking efforts to distinguish the movements of the spirits of the participants and help them accordingly. Thus, Jivan Prawesh is one of the means to share our Ignatian Spirituality to the youngsters as it is helpful in making their lives better in this material world and also an appropriate training for constantly seeking God in their lives.
Several topics on human development like self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-esteem, topics of religion and ethics like faith in God, respect for the parents and elders and dream for a better future with the help of the best career choice are imparted to the youth. Thus, Jeevan Prawesh truly touches, shapes and moulds the very being of a human person.
Nature of the Seminars
Seminars, in general, have been very successful. The students show their keen interest for these sessions. The interest, dispositions, and the longing desire of the students give a positive feedback and motivation to the animators of this programme. The teachers and the staff also give their strong supporting hand in the formation of the participating students. The common reflection and spiritual sharing sessions seem to be difficult for a while for the beginners, but later on they become the best moment not only for the animators but also for the participants to listen to one another. The sharing of experiences is beautiful, simple and heart touching moment. Once the deep negative experiences are expressed, the participants feel free, liberated and peace in their heart. The religious hymns played during meditation and reconciliation hour add meaning to the programme. The input sessions give them some new information about sociological background of the society where they live, teenage psychology and the current challenges and opportunities of the youth. It gives them some new insights and shows new paths which they can chose for their better future. Sessions about God, religion and moral life give them some new understanding and insight into relation with their personal moral life. It is very satisfactory for the animators when the students express their deep and sincere faith in God and moral uprightness.
It is a great challenge for the animators to be ideal leaders, motivators, and guide for the youth. They themselves have to be ethically and morally sound and deeply rooted in spirituality. They have to make a balance between heart and mind. They have to be aware of their responsible positions as animators and careful in their own communication, movements and attitude, for the youngsters imitate the example more than mere empty words.
The other challenge for the animators is to have the ability to understand the social, political, economic, and the related issues and circumstances of the participants. A youth whom Jeevan Prawesh wants to give its help is from a particular atmosphere; therefore the problem of the youth of one place will be different from that of another. For example, there is a craze for electronic gadgets in the rural youth. This craze has become a burning problem for parents, guardians and teachers as they find that the youth are fully distracted from studies because of these gadgets; whereas the same situation of obsession with electronic gadgets may not be there in other places.
These are the plans of the Jeevan Prawesh (Orientation of Life), which are set to be done in the next academic year:
• To conduct orientation seminars for the dropouts;
• To conduct leadership seminars for the village youth;
• Organizing a follow up program for those who have already attended the ‘Jeevan Prawesh’
• Upgrade and modernize our means and methods;
• Involve better capable and efficient members in the team.