The Touching Story of an African Boy Burned in a Fire. For All of Us Who Feel Shame.



Read full article Recently, I had the opportunity of traveling to Africa as a resident artist for Africa Yoga Project, an organization that educates, empowers, elevates, and employs youth from Africa using the transformational power of yoga. The vision of Africa Yoga Project is to create opportunities  youth to step into their greatness and become self-sustaining and leaders in their communities. The organization employs over seventy-two Kenyan yoga teachers and empowers over 6,000 people a week through its 300 free outreach yoga classes. The following is one man’s remarkable journey I had the honor of working with and being trusted to visually tell his story.—Robert Sturman

Images by Robert Sturman. Text by Kelly Holzscheiter.


“I am ugly,” he said as he choked back tears. The emotion surfaced so quickly with those three simple words.

My throat instantly felt tight, and my hands were clammy. He couldn’t look us in the eye. “I need a minute,” he whispered as the tears began to fall from his eyes. He got up and left our circle. There were five of us remaining. Silently we looked at one another, each one of us obviously affected by his words and stunned by his vulnerability. I felt him—his pain, his anguish, his fight.

As a small child, David Maina woke up one day to the roar of an angry fire and heavy smoke billowing around him. Frightened, he threw the covers off and jumped out of bed frantically looking for an escape route. In the midst of his search, the roof collapsed overhead, and a piece of it came crashing down on his forehead, searing his skin and imprinting this moment on his face forever. It was then he blacked out, only to later awake in the hospital. David miraculously survived the fire as a child, but in its wake, it left him with deep scars on his face, hands, and arms—a constant reminder of that fateful day.

Africa Yoga Project Educates, Empowers, Elevates and Expands Employability with youth in Africa using the transformational practice of yoga. Our vision is to create opportunities for youth to step into their greatness and become self-sustaining leaders in their communities.

There are so many ways to get involved with Africa Yoga Project through fundraising, mentorship, or service trips and more! Click the email icon above for more information!

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You can take class at the Shine Center when you’re in Kenya or hire a private instructor in any of the countries we have teachers in. Click the email icon above for more information!

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