The birth of Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education for Peace (USM) was the result of a proactive response to the huge challenges faced by India due to communal politics, religious fundamentalism, ethnic conflicts, discrimination and rampant corruption, which were destroying the country.
Fr. Varghese Alengaden, who had long years of experience of working with the youth, visualized a country which could be rebuilt by the youth. He had trust and faith in the youth and applied the ‘possibility thinking’ of ‘why don’t we train the youth to take charge of the nation with an inclusive, broad and lasting vision?’ With the dream of building a civilization of love with people of all castes, creed and culture, he made a life-long commitment to launch a holistic spiritual movement for transforming the country with the Gandhian principle of self transformation – ‘You Be the Change’.
He abandoned the security of the church campus and moved into a small apartment in Indore city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on 16th July 1993, fully trusting in the providence of God. He had a broad, inclusive and lasting vision for India and for the whole humanity, despite not possessing any material resources.
Though Fr. Varghese received the initial inspiration of starting a pluralistic community and Movement when he stayed for two months in 1989 in the ecumenical and international community at Taize in France, he plunged into action only in 1993. He was contemplating and planning to launch his peace mission during his stay in the interior villages of Madhya Pradesh for two years.
The communal violence and bloodshed that shook the whole India for many days after the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodya in 1992, and the serial bomb blasts in Bombay which caused death and destruction of many innocent lives and public property, prompted Fr. Varghese to launch his dream project. He wanted all moral forces in the country, especially the youth, to unite to build a civilization of love. Many friends from different walks of life who had similar dream supported this noble venture. Gradually, he was able to inspire and motivate more persons who shared the same vision and goals to join the Movement.
The national office of the Universal Solidarity Movement at Indore is an open community, where people are welcomed and honoured, irrespective of their social and religious differences, and given a sense of belonging and friendship. The community is unique in its composition, functioning and life style. The Movement continues to function in a rented building, despite hundreds of students, teachers and social workers from all parts of the country come for various training programs throughout the year. USM doesn’t apply for funds either from governments or from any funding agencies.
Fr. Varghese Alengadan has been involved in motivating and training student leaders, teachers, principals and managers of schools in value education and leadership. He has also conducted hundreds of seminars and workshops for the principals and managers of educational institutions across the country. His seminar for parents is unique with its holistic approach to various issues related to education and responsible parenting.
He has written over two dozen books on spirituality, education, peace-making, leadership and social issues. His songs, written for the music album ‘Pratyasa’, deal with variety of themes to promote spirituality, universal solidarity and patriotism. Being an effective motivator and eloquent speaker, he is sought after by many educational institutions and organizations across India and abroad.
Father Varghese motivates his friends and co-workers to face challenges with the following words: “Everyone 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.” This is the secret of the success of Universal Solidarity Movement with limited resources.