A small seed sprouted in the city of Indore on 16th July 1993 and grew into a magnificent tree,spreading its branches across not only India but also beyond. Within a short span of 20 years,Indore based Universal Solidarity Movement (U.S.M) has reached out to 800 schools and colleges all over India communicating the message of peace and promoting the values of justice,true democracy and solidarity to teachers, students, parents and other groups
Though the original idea of ‘Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education for Peace’ was conceived by Father Varghese Alengaden, when he spent two months with in the community of Taize in France in 1989; the movement was born on July 16, 1993 in Indore. It was a pro-active response to the traumatized atmosphere that existed in the country due to the increasing corruption, violence, terrorism, discrimination and communalism. Several peace loving citizens supported this venture.
The movement with its broad, inclusive and lasting vision of building a civilization of love in world of hatred and violence, promotes a pluralistic spirituality focusing on acceptance, appreciation and promotion of diversity in all its dimensions. Its core principle ‘Transform the World by Self Transformation’ is achieved through living the ‘Five Paths’ which results in reducing the distance between our words and actions.
The Five Paths of personal transformation are:
1. Pray daily for Peace.
2. Skip a meal once a week to express solidarity with the needy.
3. Do a good deed a day.
4. Honor parents, teachers and all human beings.
5. Respect the earth and save its resources.
The Universal Solidarity Movement stresses personal transformation prior to all social activities. Fr. Varghese Alengaden, the founder and the national co-ordinator of the movement, always inspires the members saying, “Each one should believe that nothing is impossible;the more the problems the greater should be our determination;the more the darkness the greater the need for us to be the light;the more the indifference, the greater should be our sensitivity. Each citizen needs constant alertness to nurture and develop positive thoughts and attitude to create a better world;a world of universal solidarity and peace.”
Universal Solidarity Movement desires to set new trends in practicing and preaching its philosophy and vision. The movement is pluralistic both in its content and organization. The members belong to different religions and cultural backgrounds. The seven-member national executive consists of members belonging to four different religions. Among them at least three have to be women.
From its inception, the movement has practiced transparency in financial matters. The yearly statement of accounts is published and made available to the public. The Annual General Body Meetings and other discussions are open to friends and well wishers to participate actively. Constant evaluation is the life line of the movement. The movement doesnot apply for funds even from government or funding agencies. It carries out its activities through the love offerings sent to it from its members.
Sr. Mary introduced Universal Solidarity Movement in our school in the year 2012 Ms. Neetu Joshi and Fr. Vincent Carmel laid foundation of the USM in our school in Meerut. A member of Universal Solidarity Movement since past one year, the school has taken active part in all the U.S.M. activities. Two recent programs, both conducted at Indore, M.P. were enthusiastically attended by our school that led to the self-transformation of many young Sophian minds.
The current President of Universal Solidarity Movement is Miss. Shubhanshi Agarwal, Secretary- Miss. Aishwarya Nehra and Treasurer- Miss. RitikaS oni. The Universal Solidarity Movement meetings are held thrice a month to promote Universal Solidarity Movement in every way possible, by means of rallies, orientations, felicitations of the poor, etc.
U.S.M organizes an annual Knit India Program promoting unity, brotherhood, community service and a spirit of co-operation in the youth of India. Various students from schools all over India participate in this event. They share their stories of personal transformation as a result of their living the Five Paths and participating in the Action Programs that they organize in their respective schools. Sophia’s very first exposure to the U.S.M, outside the boundaries of its city was in this event hosted in Indore from 28th December 2012 to 31st December, 2012. Principal, Sr. Mary along with Mrs. Uma Gupta, Mrs. AlkaBhatnagar and Mr. Arjun Singh and three selected students from our school, i.e. ShubhanshiAgarwal, RitikaSoni and TanyaVarshney, enthusiastically took part in the event, gathering numerous accolades and learning from everyone around. The event aims at developing responsible citizens of enlightened leadership- capable of creating ecological consciousness, promoting harmony among religions and ethnic groups and creating awareness of values enshrined in the preamble of Indian Constitution.
Sophia’s second trip to Indorewas for the Cabinet Training Program, from 11th June, 2013 to 18th June, 2013.Sister Principal Sr. Mary Mathew, three animators, Mrs. AlkaBhatnagar, Mrs. Namita Pant and Mr. ArjunSingh along with 35 students from classes 8th to 12th took part in this event.The seven day course aims at giving orientation and motivation to the young students to develop their leadership qualities and influence their fellow students and teachers for creative venturesas the members of the School Cabinet(Student Council)have much influence on the life of the entire student body of the school.
At the Enlightened Leadership Training Program, Indore, the interactive sessions, discussions and united reflection brought us to some inferences and we evaluated them, preparingthe following action plan for social and individual transformation.