Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on August 16, 2012
Below is the final installment from the third outreach site the Seva Safari team visited. This one to one of the largest slums in Africa, Kibera.
On the last Sunday of the trip, we split up into 3 outreach groups and I was very excited to be part of the team that went to Kibera. Friends of mine from Power Yoga Canada had built a playground there on the March Seva Safari and I had heard many stories about it.
Coming out of our van in Kibera, the ten of us were greeted by two men, who would accompany us as security. Walking through the slums, I was both intrigued and on high alert. It was truly an experience for all senses, with the hustle, the noise and surprisingly good food smells. In fact, it seemed like every second place was selling food. The kids on the streets greeted us with big smiles and by saying "How are you?". They seemed comfortable with foreigners walking by and we were happy to see that they looked quite healthy.
Walking on in Kibera, we came across a tense crowd. Ducking down a different street, shortly we arrived at The Kibera School For Girls. Right away, this school stood out too me. It was a well built structure and painted lively colors. I could tell that great care had been put into it and sensed that it was a warm place. When we entered the school, the girls greeted us with kind smiles. After introductions, we did a yoga class, danced, sang songs and laughed a lot. Time flew by (always seemed to in Kenya) and before we knew it, it was time to go.
Before leaving the school, I quickly went up to the roof to appreciate the work of the March Seva group. Their playground was awesome and I wished that we had more time to play up there with the kids. The roof offered an eye opening view of just how many people are living in the Kibera slums. I was sad to leave the school, but also excited to continue to explore Kibera and to visit our good friend Benta.
Benta is one of the amazing AYP teachers that we had come to know very well. She had spent the week building the school with us in Amboseli and was so much fun to be around. When we arrived at her place, she welcomed us with open arms. We were introduced to her sister Lucy and another good friend. All of us hung out, shared some refreshments and chatted about Benta’s life and her passion for fashion.
Now, all of us knew that Benta liked to sew, because she had made beautiful yoga bags that we had purchased. Little did we know that she was a fashionista, making dresses, wraps, skirts, tops, you name it. Her fabrics were proudly displayed on the walls, as were photos of all of the things she could make. Benta sat confidently behind her Singer sewing machine and we asked questions about the business. She had saved for a long time to buy the machine and also regularly sent part of her income to family.
I learned that it was common for the AYP teachers to support their parents, siblings and friends. So different from North America, where most people save for a rainy day and try to accumulate wealth. Here we were sitting with an 18 year old woman, who was a yoga teacher and entrepreneur, and with little savings supporting a family. Her dedication and maturity was so inspiring to me and I felt really fortunate to have her as a friend.
Having returned home now, every day I think about the AYP teachers that I met in Kenya. They truly touched my heart and I am completely humbled by all of them and their passion for positive change.
- Jen Chapman, Seva Safari participant