This is a post by Hans-Evert Renérius one of the adopted parents of my 132 children in Sweden.
– Translated from the author’s native Swedish
Sundsgården (‘sun’s garden’) High School at Helsingborg Sweden is beautifully situated at the strait. When I look up, I see unhindered Denmark approaching. I must wonder why there is no bridge here, to connect our Nordic togetherness.
Now at Sundsgården I listen to Arun Gandhi, whose grandfather was the great non-violence advocate Mahatma Gandhi. He was able with his peace march to bring the British Empire to its capitulation. The Gandhi Indian resistance grew from below and the immense India got its independence. For this he was put to death by a “lone assassin”.
But his spirit – Great Spirit = Mahatma – is lived by his grandson, Arun, whose words are now flowing towards me. However, this is not the first time that I have met Arun. I first got in contact with Arun and his wife Sunanda in 1978 when we sought to adopt our daughter. Sunanda and Arun had contacts with small orphanages in rural India areas thirty to forty miles from Bombay.
Traveling along squalid Indian “roads” was an adventure. Out there were namely the children, especially girls, who have been abandoned by their mothers. They were left at the village water source, where they were discovered and brought to the orphanages.
For those children who come into the world in degrading poverty there is no decent future. Therefore, Sunanda and Arun gave them new hope.
There were 132 emaciated children who received new hope and a loving stay in our foreign country Sweden. Now here at Sundsgården, many of them gathered. The children who came here in the late 1970s are now adults and parents themselves. Their children are now running around as a visible sign of life and love.
Our daughter came to Årstad a few days before Christmas 1979. It started with hospitalization in Halmstad – but after a day we could not leave her sad tears to the hospital staff so we took her home and made her our own.
35 years have passed and Arun is still working all over the world, now with America as a base, to spread the non-violent thoughts his grandfather once planted on this earth, called Satyagraha, a pursuit of Truth .
Arun is a world traveler and has met all the big politicians. He worked for 30 years as a journalist for the largest Indian newspaper Times of India. In more recent times he had his own column in the Washington Post.
Arun still runs his rescue projects for the poor and outcast children in their home village of Kolhapur. His non-profit US organization Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute has commenced building the Gandhi Center For Learning, in Kolhapur, and has plans for more centers.
Today, Arun sees how the poor of India are becoming poorer. They may not be part of any success experienced by some groups in India today. The rich safeguard their privileges and the poor become slaves in their own country Arun explains.
“The Indian miracle that politicians are talking about does not exist,” Arun tells us. “Although well intentioned, financial contribution without careful planning only further depresses the poor,” Arun adds.
Arun informs us of the training underway, at his affiliated training center and residential home, for parents and children alike. The Gandhi principal is to create opportunities for self-development and personal growth – ie. to help themselves.
In 2014 Arun Gandhi will turn 80. This fact, I have a hard time believing this bright August day in Sundsgården outside Helsingborg, where he converses with “his children”, now as adults they can look back on a fantastic development of their own lives.
And all this started once Sunanda and Arun saw how necessary it was to provide concrete help to a dignified life in the spirit of Gandhi!
Hans-Evert Renérius is a Swedish clergyman and author and was trained as a primary school teacher in Linköping in the early 1960s. He also worked as a general reporter at the newspaper Östgöten and published during the decade in various newspapers and magazines Lyrikvännen , Horizon , Our redemption and as a journalist for Teacher Magazine, a Swedish school newspaper Stockholm and Gothenburg Trade and Shipping Gazette, Gothenburg . In 1979 Hans and his wife adopted one of the children that was rescued from poverty by Arun and Sunanda Gandhi.