I blogged about The Africa Yoga Project in early December in my Holiday Giving Guide. Now they need your help more than ever.
My friend Paige arrived in Nairobi just days before the elections and remains there now.
Here is her letter asking for help. Please share what you can.
Nairobi 4 January 2007
Dear Friends of Africa Yoga Project,
Thank you all so much for all of the well wishes for my own safety and for the safety of the many students of Africa Yoga Project and Sarakasi Trust (our partner for acrobatic, circus and dance training here in Kenya). Is some of you know I am in Nairobi, I am in a safe place, and I am writing now to update you all.
I arrived in Kenya for my fifth time on December 25th, with the intention to teach. Within the last two weeks I have been a student of life in way I did not expect. I feel like I did when I first started to practice yoga, awake to the world in a new way.
Many of you have been following the elections in Kenya and the violence that erupted in the slums of Kenya with great concern. Most (if not all) of the Africa Yoga Project community hail from the areas affected and Sarakasi has been in contact with the students all through. So far there have been a reported 1000 deaths and 200,000 displaced families in the period since December 27th.
The stories we hear are very worrying and disturbing.
- Students in Dandora have gone days without food. The food available is marked up at over 50% for fresh vegetables.
- Students inI Mugumo have been forced to become soldiers and are patrolling their neighborhood. Civilians are openly walking around with fire arms. I have shared stories and time with an acrobat that was forced to be nvolved with violence.
- In Kariobangi, Kibera and Kayole people are forced out of their houses by their landlords, based on their (different) ethnicity.
- In Mathare North and Huruma acrobats want to be evacuated. Groups are hiding their group members of a different ethnicity and live in fear of being caught by their own tribesmen. A group I work with has been hiding one of their members whose house has been burnt down. The rest of the men and boys in the group are being forced from their houses to go around in groups and fight whoever attacks.
- The "downdog girls" cannot go out to buy food in fear of being raped. Sarakasi has been bringing them food and phone credit to use a shared cell phone.
I Press are not allowed into these areas and are kept out by police. The security forces are there but only patrol the main roads and, according to some reports, join in the looting. The situation is extremely tense and people are terrified. For me , I have the means ($) to stay in a safer neighborhood with police. For the acrobats and yogis from Sarakasi, they have been forced to stay in midst of chaos or become refugees in their hometowns.
We are trying to help where we can. Sarakasi has been going around meeting with the group leaders to give moral support and advice. They have given them small amounts of money so they can buy food to share amongst their groups. They are monitoring the groups that are hiding their members and are on stand-by in case they have to be evacuated.
But we need help to keep helping. We need to tackle the immediate problems: the need for food & other essentials, shelter and evacuation.
However, when all this is over and when the situation has been stabilized there will be more work to do: peace and reconciliation. We believe that within Africa Yoga Project we have a unique situation since the yoga - acrobat-, dance- and music groups comprise of different tribes, who up to now have worked,
created and lived together in harmony. We want to keep doing that and use our art and productions as a strong message of unity within the Sarakasi community and beyond. In order to help now and later we need funds. We of course will appeal to our donors for extra funds but that takes time. What we need now is simply money to help our community with the much needed essentials.
This war between the president and the opposition is fought on the streets where it is turning into a very ugly ethnic war and the poor people are the ones who suffer most.
Your donation however small is much appreciated and will be of great help. If you can not afford a donation , please dedicate a breath, a prayer, a yoga practice to Kenya's peace and unity. I want to acknowledge those of you, especially Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein of AcroYoga who have already sponsored a substantial amount of emergency relief.
You can contact me by replying to this email and send the checks payable to Sarakasi Trust and send them to my NY address. Please email me and let me know if you willl be sending a check.
20 Renwick Street 5
possible please add memo: Africa Yoga Project: Peace and Unity.
You can also donate through pay pal. PLease click here to donate $100.00
You can also transfer money to Sarakasi via the details below
In case you want to find out more about
Africa Yoga Project : www.africa Yoga Project.org
and Sarakasi: www.sarakasi.org
I can not end this email without acknowledging the great resiliancy and kindness of my Kenyan families. I have recieved more in the past two weeks than I could ever return. Each person I have met who has assited me has redifined to me what it means to be a yogi, in unity with a universal spirit of abundance.
Thank you so much for your love and prayers and I look forward to the future of this project. With great love,
Director, Africa Yoga Project
Correspondence Address: Sarakasi Trust, P.O. Box 33339, 00600 Ngara, Nairobi, Kenya.
Office and Rehearsal Space Address: The Godown Arts-Center, Dunga Road, Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel/Fax: +254-20-559757 and +254-20-555894. Mobile: +254-722-81126 and +254-734-811926
Bank Details: Sarakasi Trust, USD Account (012) 402009840; Euro Account (012) 432000110;
Kenya Commercial Bank, UN Gigiri, P.O. Box 39402, Nairobi, Kenya;
Swift Code KCB LKENX
The Africa Yoga Project aims to provide empowerment to some of the most marginalized people of Nairobi, Kenya. They look towards Kenyan organizations such as Sarakasi Trust and NAFSI acrobats, as models for being platforms of change in communties.
WHEN YOU PRAY YOU MOVE YOUR FEET
I Love Yoga donates 50% of the profits of this shirt to THE AFRICA YOGA PROJECT, turning young lives UPSIDE DOWN and creating sustainable livelihood through the yogic arts. The proceeds go directly to the care and education of the students in the program. more...