Didi Ananda Devapriya: Yoga and Meditation Teacher in Romania

Meditation Steps Romania

I am really honored and delighted to be part of the Meditation Steps project that Dada Sadananda initiated, with his very popular Russian YouTube channel, that now has versions in English and many other languages.

Together with the help of a very dedicated team of volunteers, we have managed to launch a Romanian version of the Meditation Steps course – called “Meditatie pas cu pas”  as well as a YouTube channel, where I publish a weekly video.

It is my deep wish to see the transformative power of developing a regular meditation practice reach as many people as possible in Romania in an easy, accessible way.



Invited to a talkshow on health “Atelier de Sanatate” to talk about meditation

I had a special opportunity to participate on the live talkshow “Atelier de Sanatate” (Health Workshop) with Dr. Smarada Vornicu, a very well-informed doctor that leads discussions on topics for improving health. She also told me off-camera how she also practices meditation and feels the benefits in her own life directly. Ten minutes was a bit short to give both some explanation and a practical demonstration, but I did my best.

Can spirituality really bring unity in such a secular and divided world?

How can Neohumanist leaders create a sense of the profoundly universal nature of the human experience of transcendence? How to even speak about spirituality in our current modern, scientific and secular society, or when working in situations with a diversity of strong religious sentiments? What elements of Neohumanist philosophy can help to bridge these divides so that the spiritual dimension of human experience can be recognized and cultivated in society beyond the confines of institutionalised religion?


Newspaper article about AMURTEL’s work with Ukrainian refugees

Since March 2022, with the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, and hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into Romanian through the border at Siret, AMURTEL Romania has had a team on the ground.

Melinda Endrefy, our professional emergency psychologist, with her big friendly stuffed monkey, Oscar made the rounds daily of all of the tents looking for refugees that needed a quick or sometimes complex intervention.  They have become well-loved by all present at the border.

My friend, Maria Andries from the Libertate national newspaper came with Dumitru Angelescu, the photographer, and made this wonderful article about our work there.

Here is a short excerpt, the full article can be found here, and includes a video in english at the start:

Siret Customs volunteers are preparing for new waves of refugees from Ukraine

“Oscar is a big stuffed monkey who makes the children passing through Siret Customs laugh these days. “Adults cry when they see him. I didn’t understand why, so I asked a Ukrainian mother. He replied that he was impressed that we were doing our best to make their children smile again. He hugged me “, says Melinda Endrefy, emergency psychologist at AMURTEL Romania.

When he is not amusing the children, Oscar sits in the office container where all the work of the Siret Customs volunteers is coordinated. After the first chaotic days, NGOs, volunteers, firefighters, and police began to work as an organised team. Access to customs has been restricted and police have formed filters on the roads so that only those with special badges are allowed to enter. “This was needed because refugees are vulnerable to human trafficking,” said Didi Deshaies, president of AMURTEL Romania.

Melinda is Romanian, Didi is American. In times of peace, AMURTEL Romania cares for disadvantaged children. “But I have volunteered in other countries in crisis situations. In Haiti and Lebanon, for example, “said Didi. “I told a Danish friend what was going on in Siret. The day after we spoke, he was on a plane and arrived here.”


As it turned out, Karl Johan Andersson, an IT professional by profession and a yogic monk by vocation, decided that a website was needed for ensuring good communication between the stakeholders present. “We looked at him, with his white beard, like a gentle Santa Claus. He told us that he needed a few hours to make the site,” recalls an ISU employee at Siret Customs. “We told him: maybe a few days, not a few hours! In the evening, the siret.help website was ready. ”
The siret.help site has six versions, in Romanian, Italian, Russian, Ukrainian, English, and Polish. It contains a map of customs, useful telephone numbers for various situations, a list of services that refugees can benefit from, instructions for volunteers, and other necessary information for both those who help and those who are helped.

TVR1 : On the talk show “Referendum” (Referendum: Feţele războiului din Ucraina)

I was invited to appear on this show “Referendum” on TVR1 , together with a political analyst, an Orthodox priest, an anthropologist, a psychologist and a Moldovian woman with relatives in the Ukraine. The piece was designed to focus not just on the politics of what is happening, but on the human impact. My role was to represent the federation of child protection organisations and talk about my AMURTEL experiences with refugee children. I also shared about conversations I had had that day with my brothers and sisters both in the Ukraine and in Russia. There is such a heavy, painful impact this is having on everyone. As always happens in these scenarios many innocent lives are paying for the decisions of a few, who try to drag the rest of us in by fueling powerful divisive sentiments.

Appearance on “La Maruta” talk show

This is a really nice piece,”A Yoga teacher that left America for Romania” that aired as part of one of the popular talk shows in Romania “La Maruta”.  The interview starts out about meditation and yoga and the first clips were when I was doing some sadhana and guru mantra to prepare my mind to talk (I didn’t realise they were filming already).  That day they followed me as I harvested some vegetables from my garden at the yoga center here in Bucharest, and made a meal for my older “graduated” kids from AMURTEL Family who they also interviewed and talked beautifully about growing up with us. You will see Florin talking about all the experiences he had and how he is now successful as a hairdresser.    The film crew were not planning to stay to eat with us, but they liked the food so much that they ate everything  – no leftovers which made me very happy to see that they enjoyed it.  So they also included me talking about vegetarianism a bit, and our organic farm project.


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