By Millie Weke
Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on April 05, 2017
Written by Anamaria Guerra Forero & Millie Weke
“To grow[up] in a ghetto is not easy but we are very grateful for our life because it makes us strong. You can sort any problem and also you fit in everywhere.” - Samuel Muindi & Alphonce Mutinda share with us theirs dreams and expectations for the upcoming Africa Yoga Project (AYP) Teacher Training 2017.
1. Picture of Samuel Muindi / 2. Push cart - To sell water in Huruma / 3. Masmoky Brother´s .- It is the name that Alphonce and Samuel gave to the push cart/ 4. Alphonce Mutinda.
Samuel and Alphonce are lifelong friends who grew up in the same slum: Mathare, and attended school together. Now life has rejoined them and they work filling water to be sold in their neighborhood, Huruma. The drought has been an opportunity for them and for many more to have an income. They rent a push cart that costs them 100 ksh a day, fill the jars with water at Ksh 10 in Kiamaiko and resell them in Huruma at about Ksh 30. “On a good day,” says Alphonce, “We can sell 20 jerrycans. Average we gain 300 ksh per day (about 3USD), we work most of the days from 5:30am until noon and then we start again from 5pm to 10pm more or less.”
1.Picture of Samuel and Alphonce and the cart / 2.The street where Alphonce and Samuel most of the time selling water in Huruma / 3. Alphonce with the cart / 4. Samuel buying some bananas
Growing up in a ghetto makes you resourceful and flexible with reality,” says Samuel, “you live with the essential. The money that we gain from that work is not enough to pay a whole rent, for that reason we move between Huruma and Mathare and we stay at friends houses.” “It is not an easy job.” adds Alphonce,“Pushing the cart under the full sun sometimes is difficult, it makes you spend a lot of energy. In this kind of job everything is unpredictable, there are better days than others, now with the oncoming rainy season in Nairobi we are sure that we will be out of work just like many who survive selling water.” They are already starting to look for different opportunities that will allow them to earn a living.
Samuel and Alphonce also told us about their dreams and how those dreams have had to transform over time. Alphonce remembers with a certain sadness that when he was a junior and enrolled in primary school, his dream was to be a Doctor, but later the cost of that career and the complexity of the exams excluded him from it. Samuel dreamed of being an architect, but for lack of financial resources his dream remained a dream. The dreams have changed through time; “It doesn't matter if you are an architect, an engineer or a doctor, the important aspect is to be a good person and work for your family and your community in a positive way to create changes to improve their and our lives.”
1. Picture of Alphonce walking through the street where they sell water in Huruma / 2. Samuel and Alphonce with their push cart / 3. Alphonce, Samuel and Millie practicing yoga on the street / 4. Water jar that they sell in the neighborhood.
One day about 6 months ago, AYP teacher, Millie was moving houses, and needed help carrying her belongings, and was introduced to Samuel. He helped her and later inquired about her work. She shared that she was a yoga teacher and there was actually an opportunity for them to try yoga as well and maybe even become teachers themselves! After attending a few yoga classes, they enlisted Millie’s help to buy data bundles and fill in the online scholarship application to join the 2017 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. We asked Samuel, with so little experience with yoga, why did he apply to become a teacher? “Because I really want to have tools to help me and help my community to provide better leadership to the youth giving them alternatives to get them away from bad stuff like drugs, alcohol, and becoming thieves and gangsters. You can easily be involved in trouble like this when you grow up in the slums.”
Alphonce and Samuel applied to the program and were selected for the scholarship! Today they have a mixture of feelings, they feel happy, with expectations as to what the course will be and what they can do after it. At the same time they are nervous as has a lot of experience with yoga; they only attend the community class on Saturdays at The Shine Center. But they feel motivated, truly they want to be part of AYP, “What is lived within the community classes is a sense of unity, no matter that you come from the ghetto, there everyone practices together regardless of if we have money or not or level or education. One feels alive,” Samuel told us and Alphonce added:
“With this new step we are taking, embarking from the 11 of April of 2017 for 10 days in the training, we will meet many people from different countries, gaining tools and experiences to share yoga, and in this way our dreams have widened. New opportunities and new doors are sure to open from us”.
1. Picture of Alphonce and Samuel working / 2. Picture of Alphonce / 3. Picture of Samuel / 4. Alphonce, Millie and Samuel.
In their words, “After training as a yoga teacher, we can teach in our community, and in different places, where we can develop as positive leaders who share another way of doing things. At this moment the idols in the ghetto are those who consume drugs, commit crimes and are involved in prostitution, but when we bring wellbeing and fitness to the community there will be a greater connection and care within the people. We believe that through yoga we can transform and help our friends and our community.”
They have GREAT dreams. We can see the brightness in their eyes, it's one of those moments everything is believed to be possible. At the end they told us: “We really want to transform our reality in a more positive way for our future generations, for our family and our children when they arrive.” In words of Samuel, “Dreams give us reasons to live, they are the energy and the motor to continue with life, to work hard and with conscience to reach them and make them come true.”