Dhammachari Maitreyaratna is one of the founders of Kalingamitra Trust, an NGO committed to social development work in Bolangir district of, Odisha, employing Buddhist principles of non-violence and self-sufficiency. The Organisation’s name itself suggest the meaning ‘Friend of Kalingas’ and refers to an ancient tradition that the Emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism here, and began a reign of peace and social care that lasted for more than 40 years. The history is that he was filled with remorse for the violence his troops had wreaked on the people of northern Orissa, the Kalingas, where the River Daya ran red with their blood and this live picture completely changed Chanda Ashoka to Dhamma Ashoka.
The Kalingamitra Trust is now heading a small team of young men and women which was registered on dated 25th June 2012 with 5 Trustees. It has a Management Body of twelve young men and women most of them trained at Nagarjuna Training Institute, Nagpur in the state of Mahrashtra. The Trust is based on the foundation principles such as Liberty, equality and fraternity and justice to create social development on the principles of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. The problems of Dalit & tribal community in Odisha are acute due to lack of investment & good policies by the State Government for the upliftment of Dalits and Tribals in Odisha. These communities are predominantly earning their livelihood based on agricultural labour and most of the tribal communities are settled in the forests. These communities lack basic amenities, no infrastructure, poor education and lack of awareness amongst the tribal communities. As Odisha is one of the most richest mining area in India it has caused serious problems of Livelihood,. Mining’s effects on health, land and water pollution, displacement etc are quite visible. Dalit community in the area has is equally bad like the tribal communities. Due to lack of livelihood opportunities Dalits and Tribal migrate in the neighboring states to work in the brick kilns and many of them are getting trapped into debt bondage. Kalingamitra Trust being aware of the social issues tries to do effective interventions and protect the survivors of violence in their work area. The trust is also dealing with the issues of illiteracy, Children’s education, extreme poverty, and eradication of superstitions prevailing on large scale in society, youth empowerment and Caste atrocities.
Maitreyaratna says “Even before Registration of Kalingamitra Trust’s in Odisha, we have been guided and directed in different ways by Manuski. The Manuski trust organized “Vision Building workshop” in Feb 2014 and “Workshop on POA Act”, Right to information Act in March-2014. It was especially arranged for Kalingamitra trust and few other local Dalit NGO’s and individual activists in Odisha to empower these youths. The representatives of the trust were also been part of the Manuski’s Capacity Building programs which were also held in Nagpur and in Pune from time to time. We have also received information on human rights issues and tools to empower NGO’s. The members of the trust after receiving training started organizing conferences, and programs for youths on different themes like “present education system and privatization of Education”. We also organized programs for introducing & promoting Ambedkar ideology.