02 Feb BLOG #2: Africa Yoga Project
Tonight as I was working on my Africa Yoga Project piece news arrived that one of their most beloved teachers has died in Sierra Leone.. and he was not just any teacher. Tamba Fayia was a force of nature, a former child soldier determined to bring change to his country through yoga. Tamba procured a scholarship with Africa Yoga Project and became Sierra Leone’s first certified yoga teacher before creating his own organization YogaStrength. His mission was to use yoga as a tool toward spiritual healing. He spread the message and the healing to the disabled and those living in the slums and psychiatric hospitals alike. Tamba made sure yoga was available to all.
Recently I attended Saturday class at Africa Yoga Project’s Shine center in Nairobi. The theme of the class was immediately apparent. Inclusion. The teacher, Paige Elenson (also co-founder and Director) was heard saying “some of us are poor, some of us are rich, some of us are black, some of us are white. We are old and we are young but we are doing this together”. In the front of the class there is someone signing for the deaf and toward the back of the class there are teachers leading the blind through the poses. It is impossible not to be moved by the love in the room. It might very well be the most inclusive space I have ever been in. As I weaved in and out of this upwards of 200 person class there wasn’t a hint of “what is she doing here?”. It was more like “oh someone else, cool”.
Saturday’s class is donation only and free lunch is served after. Upon leaving we were even asked if we’d like to take an apple with. There is much more to AYP than Saturday’s class but Saturday’s class is indicative of what AYP offer overall- inclusion, learning, support, empowerment. I felt like I was a part of a community just being there.
For more on AYP check out what’s below and if you would like to get involved there are myriad ways! Go to africayogaproject.org for more!
Africa Yoga Project does many, many things with a focus on personal empowerment and job creation.
- Africa Yoga Projects VISION : To create opportunities for youth to step into their greatness, become self-sustaining, and be leaders in their communities. AYP delivers free yoga teacher training to marginalized youth in Africa, creating financial and social empowerment.
- PARTICIPANTS AND BENEFICIARIES: The majority of people who participate in yoga outreach, usually from vulnerable or marginalized communities, live on less than $1 or $2 a day. Free yoga outreach classes serve: youth (football, girl’s groups, arts groups), schools, orphanages, hospitals, jails, detention centers, special needs schools, (deaf, blind, cerebral palsy, autism, etc.), HIV/AIDS support groups, Masaai villages and many more.
In memoriam of Tamba Fayia, a true peace soldier.
*Africa Yoga a Project is a 501(c)(3) in the United States and a registered NGO in Kenya.*
(click photos to enlarge)