Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on May 12, 2012
Alas, my time with Africa Yoga Project in Kenya has come to an end. My experiences over the past two weeks have left me transformed, enlightened, inspired & kinda, sorta, totally exhausted.
I am honored to be an Ambassador for AYP & I say that in a way I haven’t felt prior to this trip. The AYP teachers graciously welcomed Lisa & I into their homes, lives, & yoga practices. On & off the mat many memories were created that I'll cherish for a lifetime. Though this past week was especially challenging, given that we spent the majority of our time visiting AYP Outreach Programs throughout the Slums of Nairobi, invaluable lessons were learned & my heart has no doubt doubled in size.
Following our first visit to Kariobungi on Sunday (the day that inspired my last post), my ability to cope with being face-to-face with life in the slums diminished. Though my first ever visit to the slum was one of my most memorable & joyful experiences, that night my dreams were terrifying & startling. My sleep was interrupted by the smells, sights & sounds that I saw in the slums. It's almost as if I was revisiting the slums without the joy of the children.
Though my heart felt sick & my body began to take the pain, I marched on. In experiencing a life so drastically different than my own, there is really is no prescribed way in how to prepare or process the array of feelings & emotions. I came to terms with this thought as we continued to visit the AYP Outreach Programs. Though my heart ached in a way I never thought possible the faces, energy & love of the children in our classes raised me up.
Anyone that knows me, knows that the more time I can spend with children, the greater my spirit grows. So it goes without saying that I was delighted to learn that many of the outreach programs we attended were very children-centric. Shining Hope & the Kibera School for Girls, Gracious Kids, Hamlet Centre, School at the Langata Women's Prison, Rehema & Kings Junior Academy have children with smiles that melt your heart in a passing glance. AYP Class for the Deaf, Kreative Generations, AYP Meetings & Filmings were among our programs in which we experienced Outreaches geared more toward the older generations that were equally as memorable as those with Children.
The response to yoga from generations young & old was so powerful. It was so evident how healing yoga can be for people of all ages. The teachers and staff of AYP are working wonders as they continue to spread yoga throughout their local communities.
On our last day of visiting outreaches, Lisa & I had the pleasure of visiting Kreative Generations. The organization has recently teamed with AYP to share yoga throughout there communities as well. They shared with us a sweet performance including a rendition of “You Raise Me Up”, originally by Westlife. The moment brought me to tears in my reflection upon my last days with AYP on my first ever visit to Africa.
Words can’t express my gratitude for this journey with AYP. To the teachers, staff, & beings young & old in the slums…
You have raised me up to more than I can be.
Until next time, Katy Mason xo