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Transforming the lives of Colombia's street children

Transcendental Meditation News - UK    Translate This Article
2 May 2011

The dynamism, love, and immense enthusiasm that radiate from Father Gabriel Mejia make clear how he has been so successful in helping the abandoned street children in Colombia. Over the last 25 years his Centres—Fundacion Hogares Claret—have helped tens of thousands of children find a way to live healthy, happy and purposeful lives.

From small beginnings the project has grown, and there are now 52 Centres in Colombia and throughout Latin America, which serve more than 3,500 children at any given time. Some of the homeless children are as young as 6 years old and many have resorted to substance abuse to escape the torments of their existence.

Initially the children are offered shelter and a good meal at the Centres, and are free to come and go as they please. Father Gabriel has learnt that the desire for change from their old environment, where they may be addicted to drugs, must come from the children themselves—and it may take time for them to break free from their dependencies.

As part of the rehabilitation process the children learn Transcendental Meditation. Father Gabriel learnt the technique himself in the late 1980s and subsequently became qualified as a teacher. As soon as he learnt Transcendental Meditation he knew that this simple but very profound technique would be able to release the traumatic stress these children had experienced, and allow them to go on to live more balanced and fulfilled lives.

As he says, ''When a child closes their eyes and begins to meditate they open themselves to a field of all possibilities . . . . The world opens for the child and then the child discovers their essential nature which is love.''

Many of the staff helping to run Father Gabriel's Foundation today were once street children themselves. Some of the shelters provide a longer-term environment where children can live as families with older mentors and receive an education. In recent years, as the power of the drug cartels has waned in Colombia, it has been easier to provide more shelters.

Much of the support for Father Gabriel's projects is provided by the David Lynch Foundation, established by the acclaimed film director. The Foundation's video production team—directed by Stuart Tanner, an award winning documentarian who formerly worked with the BBC—travelled through the streets of Medellin in Colombia to film a documentary about this story.

For more about Father Gabriel's programmes in Colombia, please see this news post on the official website for the Transcendental Meditation Programme in the UK. A short video clip on that web page shows the unbounded love and support Father Gabriel gives to the children and their great affection for him.

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© Copyright 2011 Transcendental Meditation News – United Kingdom

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