Our Bios

Ranji & David in Ethiopia 2011Ranjana (Ranji) Ariaratnam & David Johnson spent years overseas as humanitarian aid workers in Africa, Asia, the Balkans, and Central America. Yet they found that while the work they were contributing to was urgent and life-saving, it was largely not transformative in that it did not address the conditions which led people to become refugees in the first place. A few years after being introduced to NVC by Ranji’s Ammah (‘mother’ in Tamil), they returned to North America and immersed themselves in the study of NVC as part of their exploration of practices that address the roots of violence and suffering. As such they have found that NVC complements very well their practices of yoga and Vipassana meditation.

Some years ago, during a job interview David was asked what he thought was his greatest accomplishment. The interviewer was probably expecting an answer from his professional life, but David responded that it was his relationship with his wife. For years, Ranji & David have been exploring how NVC supports them as a couple and in all aspects of their lives, and how they can support others, both as a team and individually. They offer private sessions with couples and families, mediation in both personal and professional settings, workshops and series tailored to specific groups, and support for non-profits – particularly those working for social change – and would like to take this work back into the world of humanitarian aid.

In addition to sharing NVC, David reads tomes, writes about his life overseas, does yoga (he is 200-hour certified as a teacher), and still spends a surprising amount of time studying and playing chess. The fun, clowning side of him that shows up during the parties at the end of NVC retreats often surprises people – and they all enjoy good laughs!

Ranji, on the other hand, is often seen as the ‘straight man’ – but, as close friends have said, she can be pretty damn funny too. Ranji also teaches yoga (500-hour certification), is exploring how to bring yoga and NVC together to hold the space for people to heal themselves, and has finally gotten back to drawing and painting which brought her joy years ago.

Together Ranji & David have visited over 25 countries, and separately many more. They currently split their time between northern California and Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

Training

in NVC:

David looking at Ranji, 2008Ranji & David were first introduced to NVC by Ranji’s Ammah in 2005, exploring it more intensively starting in 2007, and doing full-time immersion study of NVC for a couple of years after that. Since 2008, they have more than 150 days of NVC training, each.

Ranji & David are both graduates of BayNVC’s North America NVC Leadership Program led then by Inbal Kashtan, Roxy Manning, François Beausoleil, and Miki Kashtan, as well as the first year-long NVC Mediation program with Ike Lasater and John Kinyon. Plus they have attended numerous other residential NVC retreats, as well as series and workshops with trainers in the USA, Canada, and Scotland.

 

in Humanitarian Aid:

Ranji focused her graduate studies in community planning for refugees and refugee and human rights law, subsequently working in several countries with people displaced by conflict in roles such as Program Coordinator, (Human Rights) Protection Coordinator, Protection Technical Advisor, and Deputy Director.

Ranji looking at David, 2008David’s graduate studies were in water and sanitation engineering for developing countries, after which he worked in several countries on water systems in returnee villages, displaced people and refugee camps, in positions such as Logistics Officer, Water & Sanitation Coordinator, Deputy Director, and Regional Program Officer for the Great Lakes of Africa.

For both of them, a major part of their roles was working with and managing people – and mediating the conflicts which arose in the interactions between diverse groups such as staff, program beneficiaries and community members. They have both thought wistfully how much they wished they’d known NVC in all their many years overseas!

Training section photos, credit Nic Dragomire, 2008; Photo in Ethiopia, anonymous photographer.
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