By Millie Weke
Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on July 21, 2017
Visitor's footfalls are like medicine; they heal the sick. ~African Proverb
BY MILLIE WEKE
Have you ever dreamed of visiting Africa? Are you inspired to give back to your community? An Africa Yoga Project (AYP) Seva Safari promises to reignite the way you see the world around you, energize the relationships in your life, and inspire a greater enthusiasm for being of service.
AYP Seva Safari combines community service, travel and mindfulness into one life-changing experience. While on a Seva Safari with AYP, you will design and conduct a community service project for an African community that hones your gifts, enhances your yoga practice and makes positive change both in the community where you will work and in your own heart.
In order to get the most out of this amazing experience, however, you have to be ready. To support you before, during and after your project, AYP has outlined the 7 steps you need to crafting a meaningful and long-lasting AYP Seva Safari.
Before you go
1. Write yourself a letter
Before you touch down in Africa for your Seva Safari and are deep in the planning process, you’re going to feel a wide range of emotions. In fact, anxiety about visiting a new country and being surrounded by a new language, eagerness about your Seva Safari project and homesickness all often occur in Seva Safari participants.
It’s important to be extra mindful during this pre-Seva Safari time. We suggest that you gather all of your emotions and write yourself a letter about what you hope to do and get out of your time as a volunteer in Africa.
When you write your letter, we suggest not only focusing on the impact you hope to have on the recipients of your service, but also the changes you hope to see in yourself. In fact, if you want to make a real difference, you need to have a baseline for the difference you hope to see.
Your letter will come in handy throughout your Seva Safari, so pour out your heart and your mind out. When you’re finished, seal your letter in an envelope and put it in a safe place to read upon your return home.
If you’re having trouble getting your feelings and thoughts into words, use these prompts: what do you hope to gain personally and professionally from the experience? What changes do you hope to see? What are you most excited about and nervous about? If you need more help getting started, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Design your Seva Safari Project: “YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO”
There’s no limit to what you can do during an AYP Seva Safari! In fact, you don’t have to be a yoga teacher or enrolled in the Baptiste institute. AYP welcomes you to design a Seva Safari that shares your own gifts - even the non-yoga practice ones - in any part of Africa.
When choosing and designing your Seva activity, think about what your friends and family already say you’re great at doing. Yoga teachers may want to share some skills with AYP teachers. Nature lovers may want to lead gardening projects. Chefs and bakers are welcome to make healthy food for hungry communities. Handy-men and women are welcome to lead carpentry and painting projects. You can even choose to be an ambassador for AYP!
While you’re at AYP
3. Write about your Seva Safari experience in-the-moment.
Remember that letter you wrote yourself before you left for your Seva? Well, that writing should continue while you’re in Africa, too! During your Seva Safari, take the time to reflect on what it means to make a real difference as a volunteer with AYP. One question you can ask yourself is: where is the most change occurring- is it in me or in the people I’m serving?
In addition to being actively engaged in your work and community, we also encourage you to be a constant observer. Take note of unique interactions and beautiful exchanges. Jot down unfamiliar feelings that arise in you. Assess your mental and physical responses to your foreign surroundings. Trust those who have undergone the process before you and, please, always keep notes!
4. Ask questions
While carrying out your Seva Safari, don’t be afraid to ask many questions! Through conversation you and your new friends can both grow to a deeper mutual understanding and friendship.
We at AYP believe that if two people understand each other better in their souls, it is easier to overcome economic and political barriers. Our neighbour is, in the end, just like us - we have with the same problems and the same questions.
5. Share your story
In addition to asking questions, be sure you also open your heart! Join local dancing, answer questions candidly, and meet your new experiences with a playful heart. Also, realize that you are a visitor and people want to get to learn about your life. Be sure to be generous and share your OWN stories - don’t be shy.
In fact, by opening yourself up to a new part of the world and new people, you might find that you will discover a new part of yourself on the other side of the world.
6. Host a dinner party
Upon returning home and unpacking your luggage, you’re going to feel a wide range of emotions, just like before you left. To help work through these feelings, we suggest gathering a few close friends and family members together for a dinner. While sharing a meal you can share your experiences and answer your loved one’s questions about your Seva Safari experience.
7. Read your letter.
Remember the letter and the many notes you wrote for yourself? Now, it’s finally time to open up that letter, return to the notebook and read your writing out loud.
As you read, ask yourself what has changed since you left. Did you do everything you set out to before the Seva Safari? How do the predictions you made in your letter compare to the notes you took while you were on Seva Safari in Africa?
We hope your Seva Safari journey is one of the most amazing experiences of your life. COME BACK AGAIN! AYP LOVES YOU