“Hey You!”

27-May-2011 Haiti Beautiful ChildrenThat was the greeting our YogaKids Go Give Yoga Team received continuously throughout our week in Blanchard, Haiti. Most often it was to get our attention as the children showed us their yoga poses; both during class and later as we walked through the village and tent city. Sometimes it was from a smiling caregiver as their way of thanking us or it was from a street vendor hoping we would buy their goods. But after the initial shock (how rude!) Hey, You! Became the warm embrace of the Haitian community and a symbol of our two worlds uniting as a Go Give Yoga.

We hope in this letter to share a glimpse of our experience and convey our plans for future work in Haiti.  Nothing is more powerful than seeing the smiles of peace and contentment of the Haitian children we worked with so please be sure to view the pictures posted on the YogaKids Facebook page. DVDs, a You Tube video and a press release will also be available shortly.

First, we could not have asked for a better “on the ground” partner than Partners in Development (PID). The Haitian and U.S. staff was warm, enthusiastic and accommodating. They provided food, transportation, housing, translators and a tarped in area to hold our classes.

Initially PID had scheduled all of our classes with the children from Damien, a local tent city, feeling that those children needed us the most since they could not afford to attend school and rarely got the opportunity to leave their community. But the local children were watching our classes on the first day and wanted to know when it was their turn. So we switched the plan to alternating local and tent city days. What we were not prepared for was the number of local children who would arrive! We started our first local class with the 20 students who had signed up. Then the class started getting larger and larger. Kids were trickling in from all openings in the tent. By savasana there were at least 40 children enjoying their relaxation. In subsequent classes we learned nametags were essential for crowd control.

For the children to have had their own space, a yoga mat, even if for a short while was something so special.  In spite of all the smiles, hugs, hand holding and yoga fun it was clear that stress, hurt and sadness lingers close to the surface.

In total we worked with over 200 children; several that came to more than one class and were saying “ Hey You Namaste!” by the end of the week. Classes were two hours long and included breath work, YogaKids poses incorporating many of the elements, games, dancing (Wow, can the Haitian kids dance!), snacks, visual vignettes Beautiful Haitian Children and a guided visualization. We sent the children home with crayons and paper to continue the creative process.

We were so blessed to have our fabulous translator, Woodeman, who embraced the YogaKids way and was really the bridge in our Go Give Yoga. We gave Woodeman copies of the YogaKids book in French and English so he can continue to study in our absence.

Which brings us to our future plans. It is the intention of the Go Give Yoga Board to continue our partnership with PID by sending teams to Haiti monthly during the seven “dry” months of June, July, and November through March . In addition we will be holding a Foundations in Haiti once we have identified at least five Haitian adults to participate in the training. Go Give Yoga will be providing scholarships to the Haitians and then employing them to continue holding YogaKids classes in our absence.

How can you help? 
  • Continue to fund raise.
  • Spread the word of Go Give Yoga.
  • Join the committee organizing future events and trips. 
  • Accept a leadership position on the Haiti Relief Team.
  • Go to Haiti with one of the teams. 
Contact Cinda Rierson info@gogiveyoga.com Chair, Go Give Yoga Foundation Board to let the Haiti Relief Team know how you would like to be involved.   

Thank you for your past and future support of this important mission.

Namaste,

The Go Give Yoga Haiti Relief Team

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