Saturday, September 7, 2013

AYP Research Mission Entry Six: July 22, 2013-- He is a wise man who…. Thika and Kibera

Entry Six: July 22, 2013-- He is a wise man who…. Thika and Kibera

He is a wise man who…..
 “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus
Yoga was scheduled for 7:30 AM. I had decided to work on a playlist and to offer to teach upon arrival. Musa was scheduled to teach, but it is all of our hopes, including Musa’s, that we take turns and teach each other. No one who is not on the research team will understand this, but I tried so hard to down load “My Milkshake.” Sadly, I was not able. However, I was able to find, “Play that Funky Music.” Which Musa found amusing in class. So, I offered a 60 minute Catherine- Power-Hour and we rocked it out. Steve had a breakthrough on wheel lifting each leg to the ceiling assuring to all of us that he had completely recovered from his food-bourn illness!
 The whole group met for breakfast and we prepared to head to Thika School for the Blind. At our team meeting we discussed direct communication and its power. With clear heads we headed out.
 At Thika School, we met with over 40 children all of whom had some form of visual impairment. The boys and the girls meet and do yoga in separate groups. Some of our team met with the boys and some with the girls. The work required patience from the research team members and they brought it. Almost every demographic form had to be completed individually as the children read brail and we only had print. The children had lots good things to say about yoga. Some of the children that we met with did not practice yoga and wanted to meet the visitors (i.e., us). Susan played with the children who were not yogis, taught them the alphabet, and sang songs with them (see Facebook for photos). It was super, super cute.

 I don’t know how to express to you with my words the strength of the students at this school. They know their way around the whole school area, they run, they learn, and nothing holds them back. I am brought back to Jerry’s thought that, “Joy is a Choice.” The research team that I am working with in Kenya is so powerful in their actions. Nan and Susan donated funds to bring 14 of the students and some teachers to AYP Shine Center Community Class this Saturday. I have posted several very beautiful photos of the grounds and the children at the school (see my Facebook page). Read more about Thika school at the end of this blog post.
We had lunch at Qweru- Authentic Kenyan Food. Some of us were adventurous and some were not. I have posted a great shot of Susan with her Coca-Cola. Sometimes it is easy to find a little sip of happiness.  Then we were off to Kibera.
 Kibera is the largest slum in Kenya. I have information about Kibera below. I have also posted photos on Facebook. We walked deep into the slums. You cannot be sensitive about hygiene or standard of living. This aside, the people were making it work and seemed– happy.
 “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus

We practiced a little yoga and then commenced brainstorming. We worked our way through the demographic form in English and Swahili. The teachers brought benches into the space so that the children could sit and complete their forms. They wrote so neatly and you could see the benefit of their schooling. The children were attentive and wanted to help. They took turns, reluctantly, standing up and sharing how yoga has affected them. Like the other children we have worked with, many of them have noticed the physical benefits of yoga and a few of them have noticed how yoga has changed them body and mind. After we were done, the teachers moved the benches away and we danced. We danced an African Dance choreographed by the school and the children. It was completely grand and fun and sweaty and dusty and full of laughter and singing. We were full of—joy—and not because we had bought something at the mall or put in an in-ground pool. We were full of joy because we were dancing, dancing right in the middle of one of the biggest slums in the world. And then it was time for goodbyes and we headed home.

At dinner we were quieter today, reflective. We gathered our thoughts for tomorrow (item generation day) and after a short meeting, went to bed.
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus
Today and am so proud of the Power Yoga Buffalo Community. I hear that they have raised enough money for Christian Robinson to put out his demo track! Music is the song of the soul.
Today I am also thankful for my research team. They raised money for many months and spent thousands of their own dollars to come here to work hard all day, almost everyday. I am also thankful for our Kenyan Research Assistants who are working just as hard and making this possible for us!
 Last, I am thankful for my two beautiful daughters and my mother-in-law Barbara Harrigan who is watching them so that we could take this research mission to Africa.
Thika School for the Blind is in Thika, Kenya, and offers learning facilities for children who are visually impaired. The school is a mixed boarding school, which can accommodate up to 250 children. Programs at Thika include: a Kindergarten, speech therapy and living skills for children who have more than one disability, Braille Class for those who lose sight in regular schools, Low Vision Class for children with partial sight and Braille Learners Class for children who are totally blind or partially sighted.
Life in the Kibera Slum of Nairobi, Kenya
    The Kibera Slum of Nairobi houses 1.5 million people (nearly 50% of Nairobi’s total population) on less than 5% of Nairobi’s landmass.
    The people of Kibera live in an area the size of Central Park.
    It is one of the most densely populated places on the planet.
    Life expectancy in Kibera is 30 years of age compared to 50 years of age in the rest of Kenya.
    Half of all Kiberians are under the age of 15.
    1 out of 5 children in Kibera do not live to see their fifth birthdays.
    There is no running water to most homes in Kibera.  To obtain water, residents must purchase water from private vendors, paying two to ten times what is paid by a Nairobi resident outside the slums.
    Kibera’s 1.5 million residents share 600 toilets, meaning that on average one toilet serves 1,300 people.
    “In many parts of the world women are routinely beaten, raped, or sold into prostitution.  They are denied access to medical care, education, economic and political power.  Changing that could change everything” — The New York Times Magazine
    66% of girls in Kibera routinely trade sex for food by the age of 16.   Many begin as early as age six.
    Young women in Kibera Contract HIV at a rate 5 times that of their male counterparts.
    Only 41 percent of boys and 32 percent of girls know that condoms are effective in preventing HIV transmission.
    “Women’s empowerment helps raise economic productivity and reduce infant mortality.  It increases the chances of education for the next generation.”  – United Nations Development Programme
    Only 8% of girls in Kibera ever have the chance to go to school.
    Educating a girl in places like Kibera means she will earn more, invest 90% of her earnings in her family, be 3 times less likely to become HIV positive, and have fewer, healthier children more likely to live past age 5.

Amnesty International made an incredible video that depicts life for women in Kibera (

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