Conversation with Marja Olff (coordinator Europe), Soham Baba Mission

by Carol Nackenoff

Marja Olff

Marja Olff


The Soham Baba Mission is an international organization dedicated to promoting peace on earth by offering selfless service to the humanity.  It is also a spiritual mission, and from its website, we learn that “the Soham Baba Mission is the manifestation of the positive and all-embracing dream and spiritual vision of His Holiness 1008 Shri Shri Soham Baba and Shri 108 Ma Aparna Giri”


I explained that we were a new RINGO delegation from Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, and that our school has a long tradition of Quaker activism. Many of our students are politically progressive or activist oriented. I explained that our students had appreciated her remarks at the COP-19 President’s briefing for observers, when she said: “You say time is precious. I say we have no time,” and that we would very much like to hear more about the NGO she represented, and about her views at the conference.


Mrs. Olff quoted in our conversation the Founder/Chairman of the Soham Baba Mission, His Holiness 1008 Shri Shri Soham Baba, one of the greatest spiritual World Leaders of our time: “what about the climate change within us?”


The Soham Baba Mission is headquartered in the Netherlands, where Mrs. Olff is from, and there is an ashram near Calcutta. The mission is an early responder to disaster areas all over the world, setting up medical camps, distributing meals, organizing blood donation camps, and serving people needing practical help.  That may be in India (cyclone assistance several years ago when they were the first on the scene), the Netherlands, Africa, or South-America.


On behalf of the Soham Baba Mission, Marja Olff visited in 2011 the 4th UN conference for Least Developed Countries (UNLDC IV); a conference convened only once every 10 years. Seventy percent (!) of all the Least Developed Countries are in Africa. Mrs. Olff has the impression that representatives of the LCDs come to the UNFCCC to find funding to solve their pressing issues, including drought, because it is held every year. For these countries, many of their issues are interlinked with climate change.


The organization of the UN follows the economic paradigm. Annex I countries are wealthy and non-Annex I countries are not, for example. On the UNLDC IV, the Soham Baba Mission suggested to let go of this paradigm. Where the UN uses “Least Developed Countries”, His Holiness Soham Babaji officially proposed  the new terminology “Challenged Countries”; challenged economically, or socially, or spiritually, etc. This means that countries could be challenged in one sense and not challenged in another–it depends on the issue. High-income countries could be challenged spiritually.


I thanked Ms. Olff and wished her, and the Soham Baba Mission, success at the conference.

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