Posted by: Zobha
Anne Maggioncalda, a retired Stanford Professor turned Yoga Therapist, traveled to Kenya to conduct a 2-week yoga intensive at Daraja Academy, a boarding high school for girls from remote tribes and the slums of Nairobi. Inspired by Anne’s journey, Zobha donated $4,000 worth of Zobha tops & bottoms to outfit 26 girls. Anne shared her experience and a few photos from her time with these determined young women. We wanted to share with our community:
Thank you so much for your generous gift of yoga outfits for the girls at Daraja Academy in Kenya. As you know, Daraja is a boarding high school for girls from remote tribes and the slums of Nairobi. These are girls would not be educated beyond eighth grade if it weren’t for Daraja. Through a very competitive process based on elementary school performance, need, and passion for learning, these girls have been given the opportunity to change their lives.
I arrived in mid-October and began a two-week yoga-intensive with them as part of WISH – their Women of Integrity, Strength, and Honor program. First, I distributed to them the beautiful yoga pants and tops you donated. The girls were so excited about these outfits and they cared for them like they were sacred, ceremonial costumes throughout my stay. I began by teaching the girls some basic anatomy and physiology. We progressed to yoga philosophy, including the eight limbs of yoga and a few Yoga Sutras. The girls learned Sun Salutations A and B and a yoga sequence I designed for them with a variety of standing and seated poses. My main message was that when we honor and care for ourselves, we become better able to honor and care for others – bringing positive change to our families, our communities and the world.
In general, the girls were very open to learning yoga. I’d say about one third of the girls enjoyed the relaxation and physical movement; one third related to the philosophy and call to honor ourselves and each other; and one third really absorbed the power of yoga to transform their lives. This last third became very passionate about learning, discussing, and practicing yoga. One girl stepped up to start a yoga club and lead her classmates in daily practice.
I found Kenya to be an incredible world of plenty – quite the opposite of what I expected. I anticipated going to Kenya and seeing poverty, disease and misery. Instead, I found a people filled with joy and hope. They have torn clothes, mismatched shoes, and they live in clay huts with thatch roofs. They have no TV, no radio, and no toys. All they have ever known is what they have, and it is enough for them.
Despite being orphans, abused or forced to hard-labor from a very young age, the girls of Daraja school are proud, determined, and powerful young women who will bring change to Kenya. Daraja is a safe haven for them, where they can focus on themselves and their educations. Yoga was a great addition to their curriculum.
Thank you again for your incredible generosity. The yoga-intensive was a magical experience for the girls and for me.
Find more information on the academy and learn how you can help here: http://daraja-academy.org/.