Project Haiti
Collaborative Effort to Bring Therapeutic Yoga to Haiti


Putting a together a project like this feels a little like cloud busting. You can have an idea or certain thinking around how it will all look, but there is also an element of just watching it take shape. It is futile to force it to be something that it is not. You look at what you have before you, and allow it to become. That is exactly what is happening with Project Haiti. After my initial “conversation” over Skype with Hannah, we were able to follow up over Gmail Chat. Like me, Hannah experienced a devastating divorce and her work with Haiti is the most healing place for her to be. We have engaged fully in some female bonding. I asked Hannah what her most pressing need was. She very quickly answered bringing trauma recovery programs to the 2500 children who are there at the refugee camp. She mentioned that they are all suffering from PTSD symptoms and are afraid to go inside any building.  Hannah made it clear that the children are her first priority so Maggie and Steve are now beginning to think about their recon mission. We will be able to determine what is needed and how to fill that need once Steve and Maggie are able to get a first hand look at the need.

While we thought that we would be serving first responders first, it looks like the kids will be the first group to receive these programs (and we are thrilled about that). In the meantime, Mark Lilly is going to lead a one-day workshop (in Boston) for first responders returning from Haiti. We are still looking for a hotel or space where we can have this workshop. We can gather important information in regards to the on the ground situation in Haiti from these returning aid workers.  We are connected with the IIB here in Boston to get our pilot program in place. Dave Emerson is looking into the funding for this program via JRI via the Department of Public Health and I’ll be heading down there with one of my yoga students who is Haitian and very familiar with the culture (and fluent with the language)

One of my YH contacts finally touched base with her friend who is a grant writer for Paul Farmer. She was very excited about what we are offering and will be getting the documents in front of the right people. Because PIH in Haiti is so busy and so big, it may take a while before we hear, so we are answering the call of the refugee camps and getting ready to put the wheels in motion!

In my conversation with Kelly (she’s at the camps) she asked me a question about a conflict that she was having. I was happy to listen to her explain her struggle. Kelly had spent the better part of a year gearing up to travel down to Haiti to design an educational yoga program for the children in the Northwest Region of the country. The earthquake hit the day that she arrived and obviously things changed. Kelly is not a yoga teacher and does not know a lot about the ins and outs of trauma but what she does have is a heart and a whole lot of love for these kids. Her struggle was this: “I want to offer a service of healing and empowerment through yoga… but I feel that more immediately, these people need food, water and acute medical attention… supplies I just cannot procure right now.” I thought about this statement and it seemed to me that she was telling me that she wanted to help and she was feeling frustrated. Her yoga program was not yet designed because she is still learning herself about the teaching of yoga. These children need medical supplies and basic necessities like food and water, but they also need love and healing.

This was my advice to her “In time you will be able to offer them yoga, but for now follow your heart and not your head. Be there for them in the best way you can be with what you know and the resources you have. That may just be playing with the children, or smiling at them and hugging them.  Giving them physical nurturing, love and care are all things that you don’t need to learn how to do. Everything they have known and counted on has been destroyed. Just be a consistent, loving presence. You already carry those gift within you and they are powerful healing tools.”

Her response was, “that is what my heart has been telling me.”

Conflict solved. Heart open.

Just look at what you have before you, and allow it to take shape.

Thanks for reading. More will be coming. Peace and love to you all!



2 Responses to “Cloudbusting”

  1. hey,
    lovely to read your post. just wanted to let you know i will be in haiti in may after my semester is over and would love to volunteer to work with the kids.
    let me know if you need anyone by then, program or no program:) i have a masters degree in journalism as well if you need anyone to write about what’s going on…
    sivananda yoga instructor
    masters student mph/msw

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: